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4 Great Progressive Metal Albums

Updated on June 27, 2016

Opeth: Ghost Reveries

If you are someone who can not stand cookie monster growling vocals, you may have a hard time getting on board for this progressive death metal masterpiece, 2005's Ghost Reveries.

Guitarist singer Mikael Akerfeldt only sings in the growl style for about 40% of the album, but those vocals are done in a way that enhances the theatrics of the music.

In fact Akerfeldt's style for clean vocals is quite startling in how much different he sounds, truly a Jekyll and Hyde style. The band never seems to run out of heavy grooving riffs either with some heavy doses of 70's prog mixed in to keep the music organic and varied.

Ghost Reveries is my personal favorite Opeth album, with Deliverance and Black Water Park coming in a close second. Opeth's latest release Heritage is also a fine album, but is much different from this style of Opeth.

I like this band in the Death Metal Mode, the combination of 70 prog influences with the crushing death metal sound was why I got into them in the first place.

Dream Theater: Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence from progressive metal icons Dream Theater, is quite simply breathtaking in its execution and sheer musicianship.

Guitar god John Petrucci and the equally prolific drummer Mike Portnoy bring together all of their prowess to deliver a nearly 100 minute knock out punch.

Some times I believe Dream Theater can suffer from Emerson Lake and Palmer disease, in that they like to hear themselves play so much that sometimes their music can become a big wank fest, especially when top 40 aspirations crept in.

Singer James LaBrie has never been my favorite singer, and clearly he is the weakest link in Dream Theater, yet I will say his vocals have improved each and every album, and on the last few albums, LaBrie has a fully formed style.

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence's first disc breaks each track down into different life struggles. and disc 2 is one 42 minute track divided into 8 parts that deal with different social disorders and disabilities.

This track has heavy doses of jazz and folk music mixed in with various metal styles. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess really shines on the entire album, and more than anything gives the band a 70's prog vibe. There are a lot of diverse sounds on Six Degrees, Pantera and Metallica styles, along with Radiohead and U2 styles.

Metallica: Ride the Lightning

Though I would consider Master of Puppets to be Metallica's best album, Ride The lightning to me feels more progy, and my reasoning is this:

Kill em' All was a speed metal workout, heavily influenced by Motorhead. That album has an almost early 70's vibe to it as well, maybe that has more to do with the raw production of the album?

Ride the Lightning is the bridge between Kill em' All and Master of Puppets, but the vibe is still earthy and influenced by others, yet they are looking to breaking new groundb

"Call of Ktulu" an instrumental piece certainly seems progressive, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Fade to Black" are very much in the progressive vein. Really any of the first 5 Metallica albums are very progressive in nature, But Ride the Lightning feels like their definitive "progressive metal" album.

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime

Operation Mindcrime a masterpiece? It certainly is within the Progressive Metal realm.

Queensryche, originally an Iron Maiden influenced progressive metal band, they hailed from Bellevue Washington. It's hard to argue, front man Geoff Tate is the main inspiration behind Operation Mindcrime.

Though guitarists Michael Wilton, and Chris De Garmo's twin guitar attack, with their Icy harmonized guitar runs, and power metal riffs, they create the canvas for Tate's paint.

Tate's sense of theatrics and paranoid political view drive this music to classic status. Tate is no doubt coming from a left-wing viewpoint, but interestingly enough, the story line could fit into any ones paranoid political viewpoint.

My own musical tastes have changed and evolved over the years, I don't listen much to this music of my youth anymore, but this is one I do return to from time to time.

It's that good. I also recommend Operation: Mindcrime II as well, Tate does a great job on that one, even if it does not quite live up to the original. It's pretty close though, plus Ronnie James Dio is on it, so there's a bonus.

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