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Top 100 Progressive Rock Bands and Progressive Metal Bands

Updated on September 16, 2016

Progressive rock is a sub-genre of rock music. The genre came into its own in the 60s when bands and artists explored complex structure in experimental rock and psychedelic art forms to form a new sound, this led to the birth of progressive rock scene. This space is dedicated to the greatest progressive rock bands and progressive metal bands.

The Progressive Rock Years

Since the late 60s progressive rock bands have left music fans and critics flabbergasted with their complex brand of music. The 70s saw a splurge of English bands taking the progressive route. The popularity of progressive music was significantly high in the 70s. However with the 80s came glam rock, disco, hard rock, and punk amongst other genres all of which gained prominence. The progressive scene seemed to fade away in the 80s but made a powerful comeback in the 90s, and until now has remained a popular genre with musicians that love complex music structure. The new prog rock bands that emerged in the 90s had a heavier sound as compared with bands from the 70s.


The progressive rock scene that emerged in the 60s became a strong entity in the 70s with bands exploring complex musical structures in the realm of diverse rock genres. The Canterbury scene which is considered a subgenre of Progressive rock developed towards the late 60s and had a cult following in the early 70s. Musicians in the Canterbury scene were known for their improvisational skills incorporated in complex musical structures. The Canterbury style that originated in Canterbury, Kent, became a hugely popular underground music movement. The Canterbury scene paved the way for avant-garde and jazz fusion genres that showcased jaw-dropping improvisational elements influenced by the progressive music movement.


The sounds of progressive rock bands in the 60s and 70s were diverse musically and lyrically. The compositional structure and the use of instruments in non-traditional ways gave unique identity to the progressive rock genre. An instrument that became associated with many art rock and progressive rock bands in the 70s was the Hammond organ. The sound of this musical instrument was aesthetically incorporated in musical compositions thereby adding flair and dynamism to the neo classical sound. Time signatures in progressive rock have always been the talking point. The 5/8 and 7/8 time signatures have been explored creatively by numerous bands in the prog domain. Polyrhythmic structures with complex time signatures have become an integral part of musical compositions among progressive rock bands. Lyrical themes such as folklore and psychological theories are popular in progressive rock genres. Concepts in the progressive genre lean towards intellectual subjects or topics that are often addressed in lengthy compositions. The various stages in a concept album are broken into parts making it a thought provoking musical journey for listeners.


The Progressive Metal Years

Progressive metal a subgenre of progressive rock made its presence felt in the 80s and since has become hugely popular. While bands with progressive roots in the 70s were arty, prog bands post 90s took to a complex structural approach. Complex odd time signatures stand out in majority of progressive metal bands. The sounds of new progressive metal bands are definitely heavier than bands from the past. However one thing that hasn’t changed since the 70s is the lengthy instrumental parts included in songs.


A number of prog metal bands came up in the 90s. Since the late 90s Scandinavian prog metal has dominated the music scene, and it seems just the beginning. Sweden, Norway, and Finland boast of some of the finest melodic prog metal bands. Concepts, lyrical themes, melody, and harmony form an integral part of progressive rock albums. Progressive rock and progressive metal draws its influences from a wide range of genres. The thematic lyrical compositions infused with technical accuracy of instrumental parts makes progressive metal hugely popular with audiences from various rock genres. A person listening to a progressive band for the first time may find the music obscure; however, you gradually acquire a taste for concepts and thematic compositions.


Most progressive albums are constructed around a theme or story and maybe in parts with one song flowing into the next without a break. Subjects of progressive rock albums are centered on themes that include folklore, literature, science fiction, fantasy and mythology. A strong influence of classical music is evident in progressive rock albums. Improvisational passages in this form of music draw heavily from classical and jazz genres.

Below is an epic list of the best progressive rock bands and progressive metal bands.

Top 100 Progressive Rock Bands and Progressive Metal Bands

  1. Yes (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  2. Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Progressive Rock/Art Rock/Symphonic Rock
  3. King Crimson(Progressive Rock/Proto Prog/ Art Rock)
  4. Camel (Progressive Rock/Symphonic Rock)
  5. Genesis(Art Rock)
  6. Van der Graaf Generator (Progressive Rock/Art Rock/Experimental Rock)
  7. Gentle Giant (Progressive Rock/ Avant-Garde/Experimental Rock)
  8. Soft Machine (Jazz Fusion/Progressive Rock/Proto Prog
  9. Triumvirat (Progressive Rock/ Art Rock)
  10. Renaissance (Progressive Rock)
  11. Jethro Tull (Progressive Rock)
  12. Dream Theater (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  13. Gong (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion/Art Rock)
  14. Pain Of Salvation (Progressive Metal)
  15. Can(Avant-Garde/Experimental Rock)
  16. PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) (Progressive Rock/Symphonic Rock)
  17. Rush (Progressive Rock)
  18. Barclay James Harvest (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  19. Symphony X (Progressive Metal/Symphonic Metal)
  20. Spock’s Beard (Progressive Rock)
  21. Trace (Progressive Rock)
  22. Harmonium (Progressive Rock)
  23. Lemur Voice (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  24. Anubis Gate (Progressive Metal)
  25. The Nice (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  26. Star One (Progressive Metal)
  27. UK (Jazz Fusion/Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  28. Area (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  29. Fates Warning (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  30. Sieges Even (Progressive Metal)
  31. The Flower Kings (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  32. Coheed and Cambria (Progressive Rock)
  33. Tool (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  34. Andromeda (Progressive Metal)
  35. Spheric Universe Experience (Progressive Metal/Symphonic Metal)
  36. Pagan’s Mind (Progressive Meal)
  37. Seventh Wonder (Progressive Metal)
  38. Evergrey (Progressive Metal)
  39. Pendragon (Neo-Progressive Rock)
  40. Areyon (Progressive Metal/Symphonic Metal))
  41. Procol Harum Art Rock/Progressive Rock/Symphonic Rock)
  42. Tesseract (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock/Djent)
  43. Periphery (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock
  44. Gordian Knot (Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal)
  45. Vanden Plas (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  46. Transatlantic (Progressive Rock)
  47. Canvas Solaris (Progressive Metal)
  48. IQ (Neo-Progressive Rock)
  49. Threshold (Progressive Metal)
  50. Magma (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion/Art Rock)
  51. Triana (Progressive Rock)
  52. Queensryche (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  53. Circus Maximus (Progressive Metal)
  54. Pallas (Progressive Rock)
  55. New Trolls (Progressive Rock/Symphonic Rock)
  56. Twelfth Night (Neo Progressive Rock)
  57. Porcupine Tree (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  58. Intronaut (Progressive Metal)
  59. Marillion (Progressive Rock)
  60. Aphrodite’s Child (Progressive Rock)
  61. Starcastle (Progressive Rock)
  62. Museo Rosenbach (Progressive Rock)
  63. Anglagard (Progressive Rock)
  64. Nevermore (Progressive Metal)
  65. Asia (Progressive Rock)
  66. Green Carnation (Progressive Metal)
  67. Focus (Progressive Rock)
  68. Shadow Gallery (Progressive Metal)
  69. Opeth (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  70. Ange (Progressive Rock)
  71. Tasavallan Presidentti (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  72. Maxophone (Progressive Rock)
  73. Anekdoten (Progressive Rock)
  74. The Mars Volta (Progressive Rock)
  75. Cynic (Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal)
  76. Adagio (Progressive Metal)
  77. King’s X (Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal)
  78. Proto-Kaw (Progressive Rock)
  79. Landberk (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)
  80. Curved Air (Progressive Rock)
  81. Between the Buried and Me (Progressive Metal/Technical Death Metal)
  82. Planet X (Progressive Metal)
  83. Dysrhythmia (Progressive Metal/Avant-Garde)
  84. Spastic Ink (Progressive Metal)
  85. Psychotic Waltz (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  86. Scale the Summit (Progressive Metal)
  87. Liquid Tension Experiment (Progressive Metal)
  88. Henry Cow (Avant-Garde/Progressive Rock)
  89. Animals as Leaders (Progressive Metal)
  90. Royal Hunt (Progressive Metal)
  91. Glass Hammer(Progressive Metal)
  92. Stream of Passion (Progressive Metal)
  93. Redemption (Progressive Metal)
  94. Watchtower (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  95. Platypus (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  96. Beyond Twilight (Progressive Metal)
  97. OSI (Progressive Rock)
  98. Crimson Glory (Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock)
  99. Riverside (Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal)
  100. Aeon Zen (Progressive Metal)

If you love prog rock, you will have an opinion. It was no easy task to compile a list of just 100 progressive rock bands and progressive metal bands. Keep this list alive. Feel free to have your say in the comments section.


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