59. Ayreon – The Human Equation (2004)
Taking a bunch of my favourite singers and throwing them into one album, Arjen Lucassen’s psychological concept album was a break from his science-fiction world (kind of) and instead explored human emotions, trauma, love, and so on. The stand-out for me was how neat, if not a bit campy, the concept album was – yet it worked beautifully. Every so often, instead of a movie, I’ll put The Human Equation on instead – as it features everything someone would want in a film.
58. Shadow Gallery – Tyranny (1998)
What I always felt as a modern take on Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime, Tyranny showcased the technical prowess of this relatively unknown progressive metal band. This album, like The Human Equation, was a regular mainstay at my home – both my brother and I spinning them regularly. I loved the intricacies of the story and the science-fiction element of Big Brother. It was a fun story that just happened to have some incredible musicianship backing it.
57. Kamelot – The Black Halo (2005)
While this is the third concept album in a row in my list, I didn’t actually care for The Black Halo’s story. But the songs! Holy smokes – are they great. For Kamelot, The Black Halo arrived to critical acclaim. With strong songs like When the Lights are Down, March of Mephisto, and the melodic Moonlight, who needs a story when one can headbang along to these amazing tracks?
56. Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion (1985)
Celtic Frost’s debut LP broke boundaries upon its release. Like Emperor’s Nightside album, I revisited this album later in life to appreciate what it did and ended up loving it. Each track is explosive and filled with power. By the time you get to the haunting final track in Necromantical Screams, you’re a changed person.
55. Ulver – Flowers of Evil (2020)
2017’s The Assassination of Julius Caesar would’ve been here, but Flowers of Evil was just that much better. As the only 2020 album on my list (because it’s hands-down better than TAoJC), it’s wild to consider how much Ulver has evolved. This dark synth album features incredible moods and soundscapes which are drizzled with uniqueness. Where Ulver will go next is anyone’s guess, but I cannot help but appreciate this album for all of its strangeness.
54. Death – Leprosy (1988)
Like I said, this list is my favourite albums – not the best. While Death has some better albums out there, Leprosy is hands-down my favourite. Watching the evolution of the death metal genre through this album is what really stands out for me. With songs like Choke on It, and my favourite, Pull the Plug, the oozing growth of the death metal genre is on display for all to see. As an aside, I truly appreciate the sound of the snare drum on this album.
53. Dream Theater – Images and Words (1992)
One of my first forays into heavy metal, Dream Theater’s Images and Words literally changed my life. I would listen to this album on a regular basis – going to sleep with in on all throughout high school. I learned many of the songs on bass guitar and even had my own band covering Learning to Live. This album may not be their best, but it’s highly influential to me for many ways. Not to mention the guitar work is out of this world. If you want to hear one of the greatest guitar solos of all-time, listen to John Petrucci’s (and his tone) in Under a Glass Moon.
52. Wood of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light (2012)
The final album from the late David Gold: his Juno Award winning album, Grey Skies & Electric Light hits all the marks for an incredibly moody and sorrow-filled album. Spot on as always, Gold’s lyrics force deep self-reflections and thought-provoking concept makes this album feel like catching up with an old friend.
51. Porcupine Tree – In Absentia (2002)
Again with the drummers: With Gavin Harrison’s arrival, Porcupine Tree evolved (again) to something bigger. With In Absentia, the band’s groove changed. More straight-forward tracks like Blackest Eyes, Trains, and The Sound of Muzak may feel safe, but come with incredible nuance. In addition to songs like .3 and Gravity Eyelids, an awesome depth is brought to the album. It’s powerful, progressive, and most of all, wonderfully executed.
50. Devin Townsend – Empath (2019)
Listed as my favourite album in 2019, Devin Townsend’s Empath is an adventure. Featuring a swath of different musical genres, instruments, and musicians, Empath is a breathtaking wonder to behold. With so much to absorb, each listen presents something new and wonderful. Songs like Why?, Sprite, and the epic Singularity, each are unique, yet come with the flair in songwriting Devin Townsend’s known best for.