We are finally in the Top 100. For some people this alone is too much to comprehend and can't even begin to think of 100 albums they enjoy. For me? I feel like I am hitting the albums that mean the absolute most to me and shaped me the most in my music listening, enjoyment, and life in general. The previous 250 albums did that as well, of course they did, but for a lot of people reading, this is where you are going to start paying the most attention so I had to make sure to get these as close to the perfect order as possible. So let's crack on and explore the beginning of my top 100 albums of all time.
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!
100.) Galactic Cowboys- Machine Fish (1996)
FFO- Heavy Metal, Groove Metal, Pop/Rock
Galactic Cowboys are the perfect culmination of heavy metal with pop sensibilities. Imagine King's X, Pantera, and The Beatles formed a band. That's right, you take the song structure of King's X, the aggression of Pantera, but you make the vocals either as heavy as Anselmo or as catchy as the Beatles and you get one of the most underrated bands to ever exist. Machine Fish was a great example of all three bands described. It gets as heavy as it does poppy, it gets as emotional as it does aggressive; all within amazingly well crafted songs and killer production. This is a band that thankfully came back into our lives and give them the attention that they deserved all this time!
99.) Godspeed You! Black Emperor- Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (2000)
FFO- Post Rock
When a generation that never grew up on the genre, or at least the term post rock, they are usually left with the question...what the hell is post rock? Well the prime example of what post rock is all about is in the band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Most specifically this seminal album. 4 tracks, double album. Many uses of voice, movie, speech, and sound clips. Every song taking emotion in music without vocals and gradually building every song from simple and ambient to some of the most bombastic chaotic sensations you ever felt in your life. Don't believe me? Listen to the track, Static, when the voice clips are done and the strings start to take affect; close your eyes and let the music take hold of you. If you make it through the segment called World Police and not feel a sense of dread and terror hitting you, you have never been affected emotionally by music before and I feel very, very sad for you. This is a perfect double album and one that can be life changing. Go listen and find out why.
98.) Dark Funeral- Where Shadows Forever Reign (2016)
FFO- Black Metal
I love Dark Funeral, but in the band's catalog if I had to pick something I don't like about the band's material is the fact that the albums can be so raw, production wise. You wanna hear everything going on and especially on the early albums, that's nearly impossible. Fast forward to 2016 and all of that has been changed with the band's latest album. It is a pure sonic delight. The production is everything I wanted out of Dark Funeral for the first time. And of course, the songs are absolutely killer. This is the Dark Funeral album for the ages and it doesn't take long to sit down with the album and understand why. Seriously, go do it!
97.) James LaBrie- Static Impulse (2010)
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Yes, you read that description right. If you have yet to hear the latest two JLB solo albums, you are in for a bit of a rude awakening from what you've heard in Dream Theater., Before you ask, no, James is not doing the screams, that is Peter Wiloder (who tried out for Dream Theater on drums; and does the drums on this album). Simply put, this album is what it sounds like if Dream Theater and Soilwork ever formed a band and it's a thing of pure beauty. I really hope we can get more solo albums from JLB in the future, especially like this. It's been way too long.
96.) Story Of The Year- Page Avenue (2003)
FFO- Alternative Metal, Pop Rock, Emo
I'm not sure if it's been shown yet in this list yet, but I am a complete sucker for great hooks and riffs. That's what brought SOTY brought nearly 20 years ago with Page Avenue (damn, I feel old). WHile I've never related too much to the sappy love songs or breakup songs that are apart of almost every genre of music (just never had that kind of life), I do love vocal melodies, catchy hooks and if it can be a great example of making things poppy; I'm sold. WHile in all honesty, I do love the band's next album, In The Wake Of Determination, much more as it is a metal album; Page Avenue was another example of a band and album that proved to me that pop is not a bad thing and be just as good as any metal album out there. Just drop your preconceived notions and give it a chance.
95.) Daylight Dies- Dismantling Devotion (2006)
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Doom Metal
Daylight Dies is a band that never got the recognition they deserved. They took so many great elements of death, doom, and progressive metal and really made it their own. This amazing sophomore album is what sorrow, dread and hopelessness really feels like. Every track brings sorrow in a new way, like an american Opeth/Candlemass mixed with Novembers Doom and Woods of Ypres. The final track on the album, the instrumental title track brings me to tears every single time I hear it and it was the very first instrumental track I ever heard to do so. I can't recommend this enough. Go check it out!
94.) Candlemass- Candlemass (2005)
In speaking of Candlemass, this is THE doom metal band. While everyone has their favorite era of the band, I say it loud and proud; the Messiah era of Candlemass is superior to all. That voice is unparalleled and no one else can pull off his voice. Plus the music matched with it in his time in the band is undeniably some of their best riffs ever. The Title track stands out to me as that perfect combination of everything I love about the band all in one album and while I newver hear enough people talk about this album...they should! Go pick up this phenomenal album asap!
93.) Lords of Black- II (2016)
FFO- Power Metal, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal
This is just a sheer masterpiece of an album by a perfect lineup of musicians. The Sophomore album picked up the best parts of the debut album, added even more to it's absolute power and made this one of the most important albums of 2016, let alone the 21st century so far. The real standout of the album is the vocal performance from Ronnie Romero, who sadly is no longer in the band. I'm interested to see where the band will go now with their 4th album, but till then, the band's 2nd album is a perfect album from beginning to end, everything just feels so natural and the way it should be and it just can't be topped...or can it? We'll find out!
92.) Toothgrinder- Phantom Amour (2017)
FFO- Atmospheric Rock, Progressive Metal, Post Hardcore
Talk about an absolute change in sound! Seriously, go check out the band's debut album, Nocturnal Masquerade (which was recorded a year earlier), then come back to this. Completely night and day difference. But here's the kicker! Those are both sides of the band. As chaotic as the band gets on the debut album, they get just as atmospheric, ambient, and beautiful at the same time. I love a band that is able to show off both sides of their personality like that, especially with both albums being released so close together. Phantom Amour can go from Devin Townsend to Deftones to Thrice to The Cure all in one round. It's quite impressive. I can't wait to see what tricks are up the band's sleeve for their 3rd album, but until then, check out both albums and kick back and relax to Phantom Amour. You'll be glad you did!
91.) Riverside- Love, Fear, And The Time Machine (2015)
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Sadly the final album from Riverside's guitarist, Piotr Grudziński, before his death. This album, in hindsight, is actually a sad but perfect album to showcase that fear of death, life and everything that happens between those two. While most of Riverside's material has that very somber, Porcupine Tree depression filled sadness, this album is actually a departure from that, to focus more on yourself and to make the most of your life while you are still here. I love that message and listening back, it's a tear jerker of an album even before you know that Pitor died a year after it's release. It's a grand reminder that we never know when your time is done on this planet. Make the most of it and live life.
90.) Testament- The Gathering (1999)
FFO- Thrash Metal, Death Metal
Had the world really ended with Y2K, this would have been the perfect soundtrack to the apocalypse. By far, The Gathering, and the previous album, Demonic, are the two most brutal Testament albums ever made. WHile other albums touch on what's done between both albums, nothing even compares. WHile Demonic is more focused on the death metal side of the band, The Gathering brings back the thrash attack amongst the death metal aspects and it makes for a perfect formula of evil music that feels like what you see when all hell reigns down on earth. If we live to see the end of the world, put this album on and see if I was right. Also, the album just slays (not a pun about the fact that Dave Lombardo plays on this album, I swear)!
89.) For The Imperium- For The Imperium- (2012)
FFO- Experimental Metal, Pop, Trance, Progressive Metal
For The Imperium has something for everyone, literally! And it might all be played at the same time. This is a band that has never recorded the same song twice let alone same album twice and the controlled chaos all came from this self titled debut album. WHile there were two EPs before it, the self titled release is what got the underground world hooked on the band and they were catching steam ever since. Though it's been a few years since their last release, I really hope something new is in the pipeline at some point as we need this mix of rock, metal, electro, death and insanity once again.
88.) Being- Anthropocene (2012)
FFO- Modern Metal, Progressive Metal, Alternative Metal
A short way to describe this band is blend of dredg and Periphery. It takes some of the modern metal/down tuned styling of Periphery, but written with an alternative metal tinge that you would hear on a dredg album and it's a beautiful combination. This lone album is something that a nearly lost treasure, but it is such a great album that is worthy of your time. No screams here, just amazing clean vocals over some of the most beautifully controlled heavy metal. *As of June 2019, there is talks of a sophomore album, let's hope everything comes to fruition*
87.) Mutiny Within- Mutiny Within (2010)
FFO- Progressive Metal, Metalcore
Another great blending of bands. Imagine Dream Theater mixed with Killswitch Engage and you got the first album from Mutiny Within. For a good long time, this was the sole album from the band, but they have released two albums since, which is fantastic to see. There is just something about the beauty of the first album that still holds up nearly a decade later with it's soaring vocals, beautiful guitar and bass work, proficient drumming, and killer keys. This was such a perfect debut album and it's sad to see the band did not reach the masses it deserved to reach. The fact they wills till write music together though proveds that the passion is still there. Seriously, go pick up this album!
86.) 6:33- Deadly Scenes (2015)
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal, Avant Garde Metal
Ever what a band would sound like consisting of Mike Patton and Devin Townsend backed up by the guys in Dog Fashion Disco? This is the closest thing you'll get to that. 6:33 is a jaw dropping band that can go from some of the most emotionally hard hitting riffs, to parts that will make you laugh your ass off and everything in between. This is not an album or band for the faint of heart. This goes all across the board musically in ways you would never think about. Deadly Scenes is jsut an album you have to experience for yourself and get back to me. It's worth the deadly trip.
85.) Magic Dance- New Eyes (2018)
FFO- 80s AOR
Magic Dance has become one of my favorite bands ever since I interviewed the band last year. They are EVERYTHING I love about 80s music. They can go from AOR to Genesis to Kenny Loggins and cover so much ground all while still maintaining an edge that makes them still sound original. Really it sounds like a band that got sent in a time machine from 1984 to present day and continued on as band. If you want a fantastic but contemporary throwback to the 80s, go check out Magic Dance. If you want more of just the heavier side, pick up the album Vanishings. If you want the full 80s experience like me, go New Eyes. You won't be disappointed.
84.) Ancient VVisdom- A Godlike Inferno (2011)
FFO- True Occult Rock
Seeing Ancient VVisdom open for Ghost and Blood Ceremony at the long lost but never forgotten Station 4 in St. Paul, MN was one of the best shows I ever seen in my life. All 3 bands just blew me away, but to focus on that first band, Ancient VVisdom played this Satanic occult rock that made my jaw drop. Imagine Alice In Chain's Jar Of Flies album being 100% Satanic. The band is true to their word and it's not a shtick to the band, it's the real deal. With every AVV album, it has a different sound. Some are purely electric, some are the acoustic/electric mix, some are mainly focused on acoustic. Point being, you will not hear the same album twice. While the band has only gotten better with age, A Godlike Inferno will forever be my favorite for making my jaw drop during their set with their intensity and immediately having to buy their album after their set. While I am not really man of any religious beliefs, if you can pull me in like AVV has done, you have my upmost attention. Go check these guys out!
83.) Novembers Doom- Aphotic (2011)
FFO- Death Metal, Doom metal, Progressive Metal
This album came out in a very important time in my life, while I had a fan of the band for years at the time, my life was going to hell in a bad way (a sadly normal situation in my life) and I got the promo for this album very quickly into my career. The absolute pain, heartache and sorrow that hurts you emotionally on this album was a pain that I needed to hear to feel less alone. WHile some songs are just straight up horror songs like Buried (which has one of my favorite guitar solos ever on it), there's a song like What Could Have Been that makes me tear up every single time I hear it. Novembers Doom may be the best death/doom band in the business who seriously gets better with every album (I know the new album coming soon will be their best work yet) but Aphotic holds onto me as my favorite for being that album I needed at the time to relate to my woes. You just may feel the same way.
82.) King Diamond- Abigail (1987)
FFO- Horror Metal, Heavy Metal, Speed Metal
There will be some that disagree, but I love King Diamond more than Mercyful Fate. I am a sucker for concept albums and every KD album is a horror story. There is a reason why I have a King Diamond Abigail Alternate Artwork wall hanger hanging over my tv at home. This album is just killer from start to finish. As much as I love the album, it took me seeing the album live to fully appreciate the story being told and if you got the chance to see Abigail live, you understand. You just can't top the king for horror metal, no one ever has and no one ever will. If you haven't yet, go check out this album and understand why.
81.) Sanctuary- Refuge Denied (1987)
FFO- Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal
In speaking of undeniably phenomenal falsetto vocals....WARREL DANE! This man changed my life in so many ways, it could have been his solo albums, Nevermore, or Sanctuary, his vocal delivery is something to behold and I feel we took it for granted why he was still here. It really pains me that I was at his last show in Minnesota with Sanctuary and I got to do my only interview with him. Had I known what was come just a couple years later I would have asked so many more questions, more in depth thinking of what was on Dane's mind because he was such a smart, intellectual guy, and I only got 15 minutes with him. But with that, This album is what dreams are made of in 80s metal. This is a landmark album that paved the way for so many bands that would be influenced by it in time. You can't tell me that Battle Angels isn't one of the greatest metal songs ever made...you can't! WHile the band is active again with one of the greatest voices around Joseph Michael of Witherfall; you can still enjoy the Sanctuary legacy in a smaller way. Warrel Dane was one of a kind, Check out the debut album from Sanctuary to understand why.
80.) Fates Warning- Theories Of Flight (2016)
FFO- Progressive Metal
Fates Warning is an example of a band that no matter who is in the band at the time, they will do their best to put out the best material possible. in 2016, a fire got lit under the entire band and they seriously released their best album ever. I don't say that lightly as albums like Awaken The Guardian and Parallels are absolutely some of my favorite albums. There was some kind of awakening in the band that made them write their best work, give their best recorded performances and just give uis their greatest album ever 12 albums into their career. This is a modern progressive metal masterpiece, go listen and understand how this came to be.
79.) In Flames- Clayman (2000)
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
In Flames is an ever evovling band. Be it in the way you want them to or the way you don't want them to evolve. in 2000, hot off the presses of the album, Colony, they wrote another album in a similar, but more refined style with Clayman. AN album that I feel is the strongest work they have ever done. A great blend of melodeath, thrash metal and great pop sensibilities that would be explored on every subsequent album from this point forward. It was almost written as if it was a farewell to the band's original sound before they realized they needed to reroute their sound to remain in the metal game (see what I did there?). Some of the biggest IF songs are on this album and the album tracks are some of the most stellar songs of the band's career. Start to finish, this is melodeath at it's finest and I wouldn't want it any other way.
78.) Paradise Lost- Tragic Idol (2012)
FFO- Doom Metal, Gothic Metal
Paradise Lost is a band that has become more and more important to me as time rolled on and this was easily the HARDEST choice for an album I had to make on this list. There is a strong argument for every single PL album and I could easily change my mind once again before finishing this up, but I won't, I'm staying with Tragic Idol. Tragic Idol was another farewell album of sorts. For the longest time, the band stayed away from it's death metal, deathdoom sound vocally and stayed with either clean vocals or heavy clean vocals. Tragic Idol is the last album to do that before the band let the growls come back stronger than ever. WHile again, I can make the argument for the early day, mid era goth electro, modern doom metal or the resurgence of the band of the last two albums combining it all. Tragic Idol has some of the heaviest songs in the band's career growled or not. and has one of the very best album feels in the band's discography,. This is an album that you can listen to front to back and instantly start it over without a second thought. Its a gothic masterpiece and Paradise Lost is a band that needs to be cherished. I think with just one listen of Tragic Idol will make you understand.
77.) Boris- Pink (2005)
FFO- Stoner Metal, Doom Metal, Noise, J-Pop, Hard Rock
Boris is band that can and will play any style at any time, you never know what you are going to get with any Boris album until you get it and hit play. With Pink, it feels like a grand culmination (at the time) or all of their best work in all new original music. the monster 18+ minute epic, Just Abandoned Myself is essentially a best of song that starts off hard, wild, and fast, but slowly but surely goes slower and slower into the stoner metal roots, then the doom metal territory, then the drone atmosphere and finally the noise ending that is expected from the band (being friends with Merzbow after all), it's almost a metaphor for life in an 18 minute epic just from the music alone, it starts off fast, then you just get slower and slower until you become nothing. But anyways! This is Boris at my absolute favorite and I can't recommend it enough. Pink is the perfect starter album.
76.) Redemption- This Mortal Coil (2011)
FFO- Progressive Metal
I'll try to keep this one brief as it's a hard story to tell on my end. I got this album not too long after a suicide attempt and it was the album I needed at the time (along with Novembers Doom's Aphotic talked about earlier in this section of the list). This album is about coming to the realization of your mortality and somehow, someway, being able to defeat death (in this case, a real bout with cancer) and live life the way it was meant to be. WHile I've noticed it's not one of the fans favorites due it's more raw production; I found it to be the album I needed to keep me going in a time of need. I still struggle every single day from mental health issues; be it depression, anxiety, PTSD, or trauma. But sometimes it takes hearing someone relating their struggles with life and their possible mortality to make you feel less alone and want to get the best out of life while you still can. It may not be considered the best, and it may not be what I even consider their best work, but it will always be my favorite album from Redemption.
And there you go, folks, another 25 albums down. 275 albums down in total and 75 more to go. I am fully aware that I am a madman for covering 350 albums in such a short amount of time, but it's been so incredibly worth it. Thank you for sticking around and tune in tomorrow for Part XII: 75-51!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)