Oy! After writing 200 album reviews in ten days, You'd think I would be completely worn out...and you would be right. I am nearly out of it, but I got the weekend coming up to recharge my batteries and power through the rest of the list! But til then, I can not forget these 25 albums that I hold dear. Let's start talking about them!
Here's How The Rules Go Down:
1.) 14 Lists of 25 albums a piece, counting down from 350 to 1.
2.) No more than one album per project, otherwise this list would be in the 1,000s.
3.) This list is as close of order as I could get it and be somewhat happy. If I overthink it, I could easily rewrite this whole list in a new order over and over again. Right now, I'm happy with it enough to write it down for the world to see.
4.) If there is an album/band/artist missing from this list that doesn't fit the criteria above (mainly number 2) it is because I either didn't hear it enough, didn't like it as much, it's too new to me to be fair to add to the list, or it just isn't my bag...baby!
5.) My list isn't your list. Your favorite band might not be on here, it might be too low for you, a band you hate might be too high for you. Just remember, it's just my opinion.
6.) The goal of this gigantic list is to show off my roots, what I love in the past, and now, and most importantly, to show YOU something that you may not be familiar with that you may enjoy. If you can't find something to enjoy within these 350 albums, we are just not going to click musically. Different Strokes...
7.) Yes, I enjoy every single album here. Every album I can enjoy front to back, not wanting to skip a track. Not a single album on here is just thrown in to fill out the list, nor is there a single album that I feel is weak. To me, it's all killer and no filler.
So...Let's get it on!
150.) Evans Blue- This Pursuit Begins When This Portrayal Of Life Ends (2007)
FFO: Hard Rock, Alternative Metal
Another underrated hard rock band that should have been one of the biggest bands in the world. Between the first couple Evans Blue albums they had everything that makes for the perfect formula of a successful band and they did start getting the right recognition, then the ups and downs of being in a band hit and members left and all parties either continued on with the band or ventured elsewhere. This album in particular is a fantastic record from start to finish, no matter how heavy it gets or somber ballady it gets, it hits right at home on so many emotions and something I still put on all the time. Seriously, if you want some of the most solid hard rock of the 21st century, pick up this album and enjoy the pain you hear in this album.
149.) Wolfheart- Constellation Of The Black Light (2018)
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Another winning point for Finnish Metal! Wolfheart is such an incredible band that tears apart at you in the most melodic of ways and equally, the most brutal of ways. Don't believe me? Just watch the video for The Saw! The latest album from this Finnish melodeath band takes everything you love about the band and intensifies it. There's much more orchestration, brutality, melodic moments and the cleanest production for the band to date. The band is really starting to garner attention over here in the US, and deservingly so. I can't wait to see where the band goes next.
148.) In Mourning- The Weight Of Oceans (2012)
FFO- Progressive Melodic Death Metal
This is what I love about bands, there's nothing they have to stick to one style and make that their own. You can adapt, you can evolve. That's exactly what In Mourning did and they became such a stronger band for it. You really started to hear that 7 years ago with this album. Instead of focusing on the Gothic metal side, they started incorporating more progressive and melodeath elements and the sound became so much bigger, stronger, and more diverse. I will go on record and say that Celestial Tear is one of my favorite ballads of all time. In Mourning is such a phenomenal band that is worthy of your time. Start with this album and go from there.
147.) Cauldron- In Ruin (2016)
FFO- Heavy Metal, Speed Metal
One of Canada's best kept secrets, Cauldron is a band that is slowly taking the underground speed metal/heavy metal revival and making it their own. Everything from their imagery to their vocal harmonies, to their overall sound is exactly what I love in this style. Match it with their just clean enough but raw production and you feel like you are in the 80s listening to that music that your parents told you would send you to hell. A seriously great band and such a killer album. Go get it!
146.) Periphery- PII: This Time It's Personal (2012)
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
While a hilarious album title, it's also the perfect title for this album. It is a much more personal album. It proves that the band was much more than the DJent tag that is attached to the band to this day. PII showed off their true progressive metal, melodic metal, and band writing skills. With several great guest guitar solo spots, so many great nods to other genre styles and up till this year's release of PIV, the most authentic Periphery album to date. If you continue to overlook Periphery, go back and check this album and actually give them a proper shot (or the brand new album, that thing is so killer!).
145.) Prong- Ruining Lives (2014)
FFO- Industrial Metal, Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
What? You mean your favorite album isn't the one with the snap your fingers, snap your neck song? It's not. I love Cleansing a lot, but I honestly feel that Prong is a band that only gets better with age and the biggest point to prove that is Ruining Lives. While yes, there have been a couple albums after this one, this one shows off everything the band is capable of. Their industrial/groove roots, their heavy metal aesthetic, hell, there even blast beats on this album! It's just a consistently fantastic album that fits perfectly in what I love about music and fits right at home every time I throw it on. GO pick it up!
144.) Arcturus- Arcturian (2015)
FFO- Avant Garde Metal, Black Metal, Progressive Metal
I never through that my first time seeing ICS Vortex live would be with the almighty Arcturus. Featuring past and present members of Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir, Ulver and others; Arcturus writes what really feels like an evil orchestra for a dark viking steampunk carnival. I have no other real way to describe it. They are just this unique blend of atmospheric black metal, progressive black metal, and avant garde that can only be heard (or thankfully in my case, seen) to be believed. Venture down the road of Arcturus, if you dare!
143.) Sybreed- Slave Design (2004)
FFO- Modern Metal, Industrial
To those people that feel that the Meshuggah influence of down tuning, machine orientated grooves and syncopation only started being realized in the late mid 00s, have not heard Sybreed. This band was a complete well oiled machine of a band the matching of guitars, bass and drums is jaw dropping to say the least, and the insane double bass patterns shown throughout was ahead of the start of all the hype kids hearing Meshuggah's Bleed a few years later. SYbreed was a thing of beauty, go back and appreciate them for the band they were, and became.
142.) At The Gates- Slaughter Of The Soul (1995)
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
There's nothing I can really add to talk about this album that hasn't been covered by everyone else in the world. It's the album that put melodeath on the map. It's a perfect album from start to finish and one of the most important albums in metal history. And is every bit as good as been hyped up for almost 25 years now. IF you are a metalhead and haven't heard this album, get on that right now before anyone finds out!
141.) God Forbid- Gone Forever (2004)
FFO- New Wave Of American Heavy Metal, Metalcore, Groove Metal
Arguably the most underrated band that broke out during the NWOAHM era. While they were around before the scene picked up, Gone Forever was the band that made the masses (and myself) pay attention to the band and see the absolute talent in this band. The production is perfect, the songwriting blows my mind every time, and the vocals are so perfect between it's screams and cleans. It's an absolute shame that this band never got the same love that came from ones like Lamb of God, because they absolutely deserved it. While all of the band members are off doing various things musically and otherwise, this was a pinnacle album of the early 00s. Go find out why.
140.) Bloody Hammers- The Summoning (2019)
FFO- Gothic Metal, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal
Full disclosure, the only reason this album is not in my top 100, 50, 25, 20, 10, etc albums is because it's not been out even a month yet as of writing this up. BUt if I was to have waited till 2020 to write this album, this would be near the top of my list. This is THE perfect album for someone of my tastes. Between the imagery, the haunting atmosphere and the beyond catchy songwriting, this band has become one of my favorite bands of recent times and The Summoning has taken what I already loved about the band and double downed on EVERYTHING. It's overall heavier, faster, and so much catchier; I wish it was on top 40 radio, it would fit right in, yet would be some of the heaviest stuff you'd heat on it.. It feels like a rejuvenation in the band and it was for the absolute best. I love album to date, but The Summoning is a thing of dark beauty. I can't recommend this enough!
139.) Freak Kitchen- Organic (2005)
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Zappa
I honestly feel like Freak Kitchen would have been one of Frank Zappa's favorite bands had he been around to hear them. Their unique blend of catchy commercial rock, layered in over the top progressive riffs and absolutely insane playing from all three members of the band. This band is a band with jaw dropping wonder and continues to prove that with every album released. 2005's Organic is a terrific starting point to check out the band as it has some of their most recognizable songs and with it, some of their utterly insane playing on any album. Funny for an album called Organic, right?
138.) Anaal Nathrakh- The Whole Of The Law (2016)
FFO- Sounds of the Apocalypse
AN makes the perfect soundtrack for the impending apocalypse. Industrial, black metal, grindcore, noise, and the most oddly catchy moments in metal. In the later half of the band's history so far, the band has been embracing the clean vocaled approach and catchy moments more and more, but the rest of the music is just as brutal as ever. The Whole of The Law, I feel, is a perfect blend of both sides done right. Plus their bonus track covering Iron Maiden's Powerslave is a sight to behold! Not for the faint of heart, but if you can make it through, it's completely worth it.
137.) 3- The End Is Begun (2007)
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Pop Rock, Acoustic
3 may go down as one of the most underrated and underappreciated bands around. Their awesome blend of prog, metal, pop and acoustic is something that should be cherished. 2007's The End IS Begun is easily their heaviest album to date, but it also features some of their most insane musicianship (the title track alone...) along with some of their most commercial sounding songs and an overall sense of musicianship that is hard to top. I implore you to check out 3 and embrace the power and the glory of what they have brought us to this point!
136.) Orange Sky- Dat Iz Voodoo (2008)
FFO- Progressive Metal, Reggae
The Trinidad Metal band (A phrase you just don't hear that often) Orange Sky is a band that I saw open for King's X back in 2009 and they put on one of my favorite sets ever. Having a well crafted sensibility of mixing prog, metal and reggae is mind blowing to this day. It can get as heavy as the heaviest Opeth song, it can get as groovin' as any Bob Marley song, it can get as technical and proggy as a Dream Theater song. This band is one that flew way too far under the radar, but let's remedy that by making this as appreciated as it should be.
135.) Kamelot- Karma (2001)
FFO- Symphonic Power Metal
This American/Norwegian/European power metal band has been one that is hard to knock. No matter how the lineup changes, not matter what direction they go in, it's always in a direction that is going to make the overall machine work more efficiently. With the band's 5th album, Karma, while not always the go to or talked about album, is what I consider to be a perfect power metal album. The emotional power behind every song, no matter the tempo, no matter the subject matter, hits you so hard and leaves you wanting more. It can be a legendary live staple like Forever, or the three part trilogy in Elizabeth, it will have something you enjoy about the genre in strides. Seriously, this is a quintessential power metal album, go find out why.
134.) Journal- Chrysalis Ordalias (2018)
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal, Video Game Inspired Metal
Journal's sophomore album may have been a long time in the making, but it was more than worth it. Making absolutely beautiful chaos is a thing that takes a lot of work and it totally paid off. Chrysalis Ordalias is filled to the brim with chaotic riffs, that oddly to into some of the most epically majestic riffs you have ever heard in your entire life. It's a complete thing of beauty. While it may take you quite a while to wrap your mind around what exactly is going on with the music (maybe even the point of it), but when you sit down with it and just let it be what ist is, it will all makes sense and you will wonder how you ever lieved without it previously. I mean it, check this thing out asap!
133.) Obscura- Akroasis (2016)
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Technical Death Metal
The band's 3rd album of a 4 album concept is the band at their most courageous. While the band's latest release, Diluvium, is quite possibly their best; it does hearken back to the band's previous 3 albums musically and conceptually to fully comprehend it. So with it, that I would hold off on it till you heard the previous three. But back to Akroasis, it shows the band being their most adventurous, bombastic, and creative to date. It was also the first album to come out after a mass exodus of the band's lineup, so the band did have a lot to prove to make sure that the band will continue to get better and better, and they more than proved that here. It's an album that proves that when you put in the effort, there is no shortage of what you can accomplish. Go check out Akroasis.
132.) Anthrax- We've Come For You All (2003)
FFO- Thrash Metal, Melodic Metal, Hard Rock
Sit down kids and old school metalheads alike. It's time to tell you some facts that you need to hear. *clears throat* The John Bush era is the best era of Anthrax. We've Come For Your All is the best Anthrax album. It doesn't matter if you wanna commercial rock hits, the heaviest of heavy songs, or the classic Anthrax sound, this album has it all and done with some of the best vocals ever on an Anthrax album. You can go start to finish on this album and not get sick of it, which is a triumph in thrash music. I'm dead serious, this is how 21st Century Anthrax should have stayed as it is 100% their best work. what do the kids say these days...fight me...or change my mind? eh, pick your poison...or anthrax if you will.
131.) King Crimson- In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969)
FFO- Progressive Rock, Experimental
King Crimson has been all over the board. Heavy, proggy, electronic, poppy, etc, but it all came from their debut album that was one of the most daring ventures in 60s music. You just didn't hear an album like this before and arguably, you haven't since. It's dark eerie vibe, it's prog sensibility, and it's experimental sense of wonder. You wouldn't have progressive music the way that it is today without King Crimson, go back and check out the album that truly started it all.
130.) Oceans Of Slumber- The Banished Heart (2018)
FFO- Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Doom Metal
With a covers EP introducing the band, and their self titled debut blowing the roof off the metal hinges, where could this band possibly go next? Well, life decided the fate of the band for them. With the trial an tribulations of band life being hard enough as it is, when personal life starts to hurt you, it can bring up some of the most painful moments of your life. What is what's on display here with The Banished Heart. Love, love loss, heartache. These are all things one can feel and most likely will feel in life at one point or the other, and there's no other way out than through it. That's what this album accomplishes and you so see a good light at the end of the tunnel both in the music and the band itself. The music itself is even heavier, doomier and moodier than before, but it works to it's advantage to really heighten the sadness on display. If you are hurting or ever been hurt in life, this is an album you need to experience and know that you are not alone in your pain.
129.) Fear Factory- Archetype (2004)
FFO- Industrial Metal
This is BY FAR, my favorite Fear Factory album and I know I am alone on this statement. It's how I imagine others feel when they something like Digimortal or Transgression is their favorite FF album. With Archetype, it's the first album without Dino and it is a completely hate filled album from start to finish. It's easily the angriest album to date. The production is more raw like the first album, it's much more cynical and bitter, but you do see how the band can write some of their best music ever when they have a motivation to do so. While it's the most underrated album in the FF discography (I don't think you'll hear a song off this album now that Dino is back in the band), it isn't one that should be passed up. Go check it out!
128.) Carcass- Heartwork (1994)
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Death Metal, Grindcore
Talk about a watershed album. This album is either considered one of the great metal albums of the 20th century, or it is absolutely hated by those that love the original sound of the band (the pure grindcore, noise, raw production era) With Heartwork, the band decided to switch directions and go in a more melodeath direction. I for one think it was the right thing to do as they wanted to go in this directions and it made the band more successful and valued as a band. Plus their songwriting skills got so much better with it. It lives up to it's hype, its one of the greatest metal albums ever made.
127.) Pain- Coming Home (2016)
FFO- Industrial Metal, Progressive Metal, Hard Rock
Another shocking statement to made here, hold on to your hats.... I enjoy Pain more than Hypocrisy. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW, JUST CALM DOWN! It's just more in line with what I love and there is more variation in the music. I love both bands, but when it comes to Peter Tagtgren, Pain is just more my bag...baby. THe songs are more commercially accessible, but they are also so much more tongue in cheek (or hit you over the head with its meanings). THe songs are fun, funny, and so enjoyable. And with Coming Home, it's a perfect Pain album, go find out why.
126.) Distorted Harmony- Chain Reaction (2014)
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
This was utterly impossible to decide to decide whether I should go with the Chain Reaction or 2018's A Way Out, to me they are both perfect albums in different ways. The reason I went with Chain Reaction is simple...I flipped a coin. But I'm not disappointed, Chain Reaction is where the band fully broke out to the rest of the world and showed off what the band is capable of. Their unique sense of modern metal and prog metal is something to behold and cherish. The riffs, the songwriting, the production; this is what I wish more bands would strive to do in their own bands and really open the doors of what their band's could be. Go check them out and understand what makes them such a powerful band.
And there we go, folks! 9 parts down and 125 more albums to go! I'm taking the weekend off to recharge my batteries and Monday I'll be back with Part X: 125-101!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)