69. Gentle Giant – Free Hand (1975)
Of all Gentle Giant albums, Free Hand stands out the most to be not only for its accessibility, but because it’s just so damn fun. Every song, while feeling pop in nature, is very progressive. I’ve felt it is easy listening for the uninitiated prog fans and still progressive enough for die-hards to enjoy. The album comes with a Genesis and Jethro Tull feel (just listen to Time to Kill), yet the album stands out as unique.
68. Judas Priest – Stained Class (1978)
One of the band’s greatest releases, Stained Class comes with some incredibly classic tunes: the speedy Exciter, the moody White Heat, Red Hot, the bellowing Saints in Hell, and more! I find myself revisiting this album regularly just to hear the mighty Halford wail, “Stand by for Exciter!” Stained Class is a powerhouse record that I feel is underappreciated within the Priest catalogue.
67. Stone Temple Pilots – Shangri-La Dee Da (2001)
Of all the STP albums, why is Shangri-La Dee Da is my favourite? While it features one of my least favourite STP songs (Days of the Week), from the fourth track to the end, each song is so beautifully and honestly written, I can help but appreciate the songs within the scope of popular music. From Black Again to Bi-Polar Bear, the songs ooze with emotion and don’t shy away from uncomfortable truths. To make the album even better, most of the songs are absolutely calming and beautiful.
66. Amorphis – Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994)
While I still feel this album needs a re-master, Tales from the Thousand Lakes is just a beast to take on. It’s still one of the more unique death metal albums in existence with its strange approach to instrumentation and songwriting. While the band may not be what they used to be, Tales has a long-lasting legacy of being one of most important death metal albums to come out of the 1990s.
65. Black Sabbath – Master of Reality (1971)
The final Black Sabbath album to make my list, Master of Reality is a jaw-dropper. Including the well-known hit single Sweet Leaf, each song is absolutely stunning. The chugging of Children of the Grave, the bluesy Lord of This World – the album has it all. And the final track, Into the Void, still resonates to me as one of the greatest guitar riffs ever to have been written.
64. Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth (2006)
The proof is in the pudding that drummers matter: with Frederik Ehmke joining the band, A Twist in the Myth breathed a new life into Blind Guardian with their most progressive and powerful album to date. Featuring new musical styles from the band, the musical flair really came from Ehmke’s addition. With solid riffs and catchy choruses, Blind Guardian really hit the mark with this album.
63. Blink 182 – Take off Your Pants and Jacket (2001)
I’m sure this is an unusual album for everyone to see, but TOYPaJ is a masterpiece from both the production side of things and a songwriting aspect (especially if considering it from the band’s perspective). Every song has some major punch with it and features incredibly well-written progressions. TOYPaJ proves that there’s more to music than just power chords – there’s feeling – and the production behind that feeling. As a metal head listening to this album, it comes across as a very basic album (Travis Barker aside). As a music lover, the TOYPaJ offers so much more to the listener.
62. Evergrey – The Inner Circle (2004)
This dark and dreary album is progressive power metal done right. While previous albums like Recreation Day and In Search of Truth carried similar themes, The Inner Circle created a feeling of claustrophobia and despair. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be until Glorious Collision where the band would be able to capture that particular feeling again. Like previous albums Suden uni and Covenant, this album was in the right place at the right time for me and was monumental when I first came across it.
61. Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse (1994)
Influential to both the black metal genre and me, In the Nightside Eclipse is a sonic landscape. With its low production value and incorporation of keyboards, black metal would never be the same after its release. For me, it was going back and hearing what this album meant for the music I was listening to now. I appreciate this album for everything it has done, but also for some of the incredible sounds that come from it. The riffs and screams in Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times will always stand out as a favourite of mine.
60. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery (2015)
Had this album not been released, 2004’s Songs of Darkness, Words of Light would’ve probably made this list. Feel the Misery is an incredible douse of sadness and doom with strong storytelling and great execution. It’s become a comfort album I find myself returning to every-so-often.