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NewsJeff B's Favorite 'Desert Island' CDs

Posted on Monday, July 18 2011 @ 19:01:05 CDT by Duncan Glenday
Progressive Rock

Pain of Salvation: The Perfect Element, Be - Daniel Gildenlöw & co. have created too many masterpieces to list here, but these two albums have always struck me as Pain of Salvation's finest achievements. The Perfect Element (my all-time favorite album) is one of the most beautiful prog metal opuses out there, and Be's symphonic prog-rock sound moves me even more with each new listen. If there were an emergency on this "desert island" and I could only keep 2 albums from my list, it's these for sure.

Edge of Sanity: Crimson - What's better than a 40 minute progressive death metal concept epic? Apparently not much. This concept album from Sweden's Edge of Sanity stands as Dan Swanö's finest achievement in his long and illustrious career, as well as one of my all-time favorites.

Genesis: Foxtrot, Selling England By the Pound, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - The early period of Genesis dominated my listening habits when I first got into progressive rock. I've heard all of these albums countless times since I was around 10-11 years old, and none of them have ever lost their luster on me. I'd even go a step further to say that these classic masterpieces are still growing on me with every new spin... and that's what defines "essential" for me.

Death: Symbolic, Human - Before the legendary Chuck Schuldiner unfortunately lost his battle with brain cancer, his band Death had pumped out some of the most essential extreme metal masterpieces ever released. Human and Symbolic have always been my two favorites, and still stand as some of my all-time favorite albums. Progressive death metal doesn't get much better than this!

Burzum: Hvis Lyset Tar Oss - Truly one of the most haunting black metal albums ever recorded, Varg Vikernes' 1994 masterpiece still stands as one of the finest black metal/dark ambient releases out there. Although certainly not a "pleasant" listen, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss is one of my favorite albums to pull out on a cold, snowy day!

Yes: Close to the Edge - Yes' 1972 masterpiece stands as one of prog rock's seminal statements, and an essential classic that every fan of the genre has at least heard once. This one is also my favorite Yes album - the title track alone makes it an easy 5 star album in my book!

Nightingale: The Closing Chronicles - Swedish legend Dan Swanö is mainly known for his work with Edge of Sanity and Bloodbath, but this obscure side-project really hit it big with this 1996 effort. The goth-tinged neo-prog of this album still stands as a highly unique and compositionally flawless masterwork.

The Beatles: Abbey Road - Although I love most Beatles albums, 1969's Abbey Road has always been my favorites from these legendary British rockers. Partially due to sentimental reasons (this was one of the first albums I had the pleasure of experiencing), but also because of its sheer genuineness and soul. There's a good reason why this album is heralded as one of music's finest statements... because it truly is!

Opeth: Still Life - In addition to being my introduction to these Swedish progressive metal juggernauts, Still Life was also the first extreme metal album I'd ever heard. Mikael Akerfeldt's powerful growled vocals and angelic singing voice stuck with me, and the album almost immediately struck me as a masterpiece. Despite hearing literally hundreds more death metal albums since I first experienced this, Still Life still remains as one of the best the genre has to offer. This is a timeless masterpiece that hasn't even once lost its luster on me.

Dream Theater: Images and Words, Scenes From a Memory - I love most Dream Theater albums dearly, but Images & Words and Scenes From a Memory have largely remained unsurpassed in the band's discography. Both are essential prog metal albums that I've listened to countless times, and their historical significance is also undisputed. People new to prog metal are very much advised to start with these classics!

Marillion: Script For a Jester's Tear, Misplaced Childhood, Clutching at Straws, Brave - I'm one of those crazy guys who happens to adore both the Fish and Hogarth-eras of Marillion, and I think both have crafted their fair share of essential masterworks. I could've picked a wide variety of Marillion of albums to fit this list (I can think of quite a few 5-star albums in their discography), but these four are my personal favorites. The neo-prog classic SFAJT, the pop-tinged Misplaced Childhood, the lyrically profound Clutching at Straws, and the beautifully haunting Brave are all dear favorites of mine that I couldn't live without.

Faith No More: Angel Dust - After the (surprising) commercial success of The Real Thing, Faith No More returned with one of their most unconventional and experimental albums in the form of Angel Dust. This is a shocking, at-times disturbing, and flat-out weird rock album that still remains as one of my all-time favorites.

Ayreon: 01011001 - Arjen Lucassen has created some of modern prog's finest rock operas, and 01011001 is probably my favorite in his large catalog. Featuring a terrific vocal cast, captivating concept, and some of his finest compositions to date, this stands as one of prog metal's best offerings.

Savatage: Streets (A Rock Opera) - This epic heavy metal concept album is my favorite effort from these American legends, as well as one of heavy metal's finest statements. The tale of DT Jesus is stunning, to say the least, and executed wonderfully through some of the most moving songs ever written.

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime - Before Queensryche descended in mediocrity, they were one of America's finest metal acts, and 1988's Operation: Mindcrime was their defining statement. An ambitious concept album that opened the doors for the coming wave of American progressive metal bands, this still stands as one of the best rock operas in the prog metal genre.

Frank Zappa: Over-Nite Sensation, We're Only In It For the Money, Absolutely Free - The late, great Frank Zappa is one of rock music's most innovative and creative musicians, and has created numerous masterpieces throughout his long and winding career. Ranging from progressive rock to avant-garde, jazz fusion, classical, blues rock, funk, psychedelic, and just about everything in-between, a few Frank Zappa albums are mandatory on my Desert Island list.

Evergrey: In Search of Truth - Sweden's Evergrey is one of the country's finest exports, and In Search of Truth is often hailed as their magnum opus. Whether or not that is true depends on the listener, but this tends to be my favorite album from the band, as well as one of the greatest progressive power metal albums ever.

Neal Morse: Sola Scriptura, Testimony - I honestly could have put any of Morse's solo albums on this list and still felt satisfied, but these two epic concept albums are possibly his finest achievements thus far. The heavy-edged Sola Scriptura and highly eclectic Testimony both fit the bill of "modern prog masterpieces".

Spock's Beard: Snow, V - Spock's Beard is one of America's finest prog rock exports, and their last two releases before Neal Morse's departure are probably my favorites. Snow's epic concept and V's pop/prog prowess are both essential staples in my collection.

Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son - Despite a catalog filled with classic masterpieces, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son has always has been my favorite from these British heavy metal legends. Filled with heavy riffs and irresistible rock anthems, yet still maintaining a progressive and melodic edge, this 1988 masterpiece is one of the NWoBHM's finest achievements.

Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick - This 1972 classic is well-known as "the mother of all concept albums" - and rightfully so. As a double side-long epic containing multiple time signature shifts and mood changes, Thick as a Brick is one of the most quintessential prog rock albums of the 70's. It's also one of my personal favorites, and an album I could spin constantly and never get tired of.

Pendragon: The Masquerade Overture - 1996's The Masquerade Overture is Pendragon's crowning achievement in my opinion, serving as one of the greatest albums spawned by the British neo-prog movement. Clive Nolan's lush keyboards backed by expertly-crafted compositions make this album an excellent example of what neo-prog sounds like when done right!



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