Club: Technical/progressive Music That Ain't Over The Top Wankery


this list is related to this forum thread, please check
this list is a collaborative one and will surely grow ; it is a proof of concept for a club feature, see here.

Hi people. I'd like to create a list of albums with the purpose of being as complete as possible. I'm looking for music that is technical or progressive, although I really don't like when things get out of hand, with crazy vocals in 4 different registers building tension and brutally stoping to yield it to a shredding solo in mixolydian helped by drums in 11/12 which try to imitate the synth syncopation in counterpoint, for ten seconds before jumping into something else.

I like when things are tight, when a concept is simple and lives on its own, when a whole album is tied by the same matter, and don't try to hard to impress me but sure ends up doing so.

If you're intersted in building this list, please answer the thread. People actively working on it so far:
- me
- Starvynth

Created by: Ansercanagicus | 14.03.2019



1. Angra - Angels Cry
1993 power/symph
2. Angra - Holy Land
1996 power
3. Angra - Fireworks
1998 power
4. Angra - Rebirth
2001 power
5. Angra - Temple Of Shadows
2004 power/symph
6. Atheist - Piece Of Time
1989 death/jazz
7. Atheist - Unquestionable Presence
1991 death/jazz
8. Atheist - Elements
1993 death + 1 different genre for each song • PROS: Masters of death metal fusion set the bar higher and decide to use one different genre for each song, yes. Mostly south-american dances. Sometimes it's perfectely blended, sometimes it's just an intrusion in a regular Atheist song. I'm lacking words to describe this, it's swarming with interesting stuff. Check it for great muscianship, this thing grooves - is beautiful - has great basslines - has great melodies - has great drumming - is genius. CONS: the album can feel inconsistent as a whole, since it's more a collection of tracks.
9. Atheist - Jupiter
2010 death
10. Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient
2007 prog industrial, concept album
11. Cacophony - Speed Metal Symphony
1987 heavy/speed neoclassical shred • PROS: great solos duet, mostly neoclassical influenced. They're all very fast, pushing alternate picking and sweeping to the limit, while keeping the whole thing very musical, thanks to a sense of dynamics and the exploration of different musical fields, like creating a bunch of uncommon sounds with the instruments. All of this is inserted into regular heavy metal tracks. Except for "Concerto" and "Speed Metal Symphony" which are actual "symphonic" pieces for electric guitar, or they're intended as ones. • CONS: the mix is atrocious, the singer's perfomance is discutable and the lyrics are undiscutably stupid. Some riffs are weak. The highlights are really the leads.
12. Coroner - Mental Vortex
1991 thrash • PROS: super tight thrash with a lot of groove, counterparted with atmospheric sections. I guess Coroner are pretty generous for letting the music flow, songs are long and there's generally just a few different segments forming them. It's not breathtaking thrash to knock you down, but rather a groovy matter to bathe into. The album swarms with rythmic complication such as sporadic polyrythms, added or removed beats, tremolo syncopation, time/countertime inversions, beat halving and all the tricks known for creating groove. On top of that, the solos demonstrate all of Tommy Vetterli's virtuosity, with nice note choices and of course difficult passages. CONS: easy to lose focus as the songs last and the dynamic range is a bit restrained.
13. Coroner - Grin
1993 psychedelic thrash • PROS: thrashy riffs on repeat to make you headbang to till the end of times. The lyrics are overly simple but act as being quick and agressive. The solos are impressive, some synths are used to create some sort of looming atmosphere. The real treat is slowly getting mesmerized by the music. • CONS: can feel very long and dragging. This kind of thrash metal is fast and slow at the same time.
14. Cormorant - Diaspora
2017 death
15. Cynic - Focus
1993 death/jazz
16. Death - The Sound Of Perseverance
1998 death/thrash • It's technical for the sake of it I think, yet it's pretty enjoyable. The focus is on the rythmic intricacies and the songstructure. The most technical aspect of Death is the drums, always doing plenty of stuff with the cymbals, when it's not thrashing hard. I can't highlight the guitar parts as being exceptionally difficult to play, but sometimes what's played can be quite surprising (most odd finger patterns or rythmic changes). One obvious particularity of this album is how suddenly the music can change, it's litteraly jumping from one segment to another. I guess that's a means to keep the listener's awake. Anyway the music is really melodious and consonnant, always using the harmonic minor scale, so that makes it an easy listen despite its surnatural complexity. I'd also like to point out how the lyrics are placed in the music, Chuck always have - a killer stygian voice, yes - always have this specificity of cutting the last word of his verse, and screaming it with a wide lateness. I don't know, I haven't heard that anywhere else.
17. Decrepit Birth - Diminishing Between Worlds
2008 brutal death
18. Decrepit Birth - Polarity
2010 brutal death
19. Demilich - Nespithe
1993 brutal death
20. Edge Of Sanity - Crimson
1996 melodeath
21. Eskaton - 4 Visions
1983 zeuhl heavy rock crossover ? • PROS: zeuhl is a rather unknown musical genre focusing on a choir repeting their part over and over, helped with other instruments repeting theis part over and over. The music goes on but through subtle modifications. Eskaton brings the idea to a next level with many rythmic intricacies, fast music and a speed-metal feel on some tracks. Add to that the unusual harmonies cycling together with tasty bass patterns and that's a musical treasure. The album is also varied enough to enjoy every song without boredom. It also has a special atmosphere, uite dreary in fact. • CONS: the mix is dated, the singers' voices can be a turn off, the repetitiveness can bother you (unlikely though), the lyrics are mostly unintelligible, maybe your ethusiasm will drop once we hit the slower tracks.
22. Exlimitir - It Weighed Itself In Silver
2018 death
23. Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian
1986 heavy
24. Fates Warning - No Exit
1988 heavy/speed/thrash
25. Fates Warning - Perfect Symmetry
1989 heavy/power
26. Fates Warning - Parallels
1991 heavy/power
27. Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects - Sol Niger Within
1997 prog/math
28. Gojira - From Mars To Sirius
2005 prog/death
29. Gorguts - The Erosion Of Sanity
1993 death
30. Gorguts - Obscura
1998 death/noise • PROS: this album feels instantly weird, indeed the rythm is fucked up. Everything about it feels unnatural, from the even measures to the almost random blastbeats rain falling from time to time. It's very noisy, yet groovy and melodic. This album is noteworthy for its technical riffs, technical in the sense that they required a specific practice for getting down the noisy sound which aren't fretted notes and odd timing. • CONS: very long, I rarely listen to it in its entirety. Very inaccesible, you might just classify this as "random noise" (even though it's not). Some parts are even more noisy and chaotic and can feel momentarily unpleasant.
31. Gorguts - From Wisdom To Hate
2001 death/noise
32. Gorguts - Colored Sands
2013 tdeath/avantgarde
33. Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
2012 blackened rock
34. Judas Priest - Painkiller
1990 heavy/power • PROS: A regular straightforward power metal album, if it wasn't for the solos ! I don't understand how Glenn Tipton isn't quoted to often as a notable shredder, while his guitarwork on this album is astonishing. The solos sound liquid basically, he uses so much vibrato, dive bar, dive bar, hammer/pulloff, tapping and sweeping and magic tricks of some sorts (all at once!) that it's hard to tell what's going on, and that's crazy how he keeps it very melodic and phrase-structured, and is able to dose out the noise just enough so that it doesn't get overwhelming. The solos are extremes, and also longer than average and quite numerous. The general guitarwork also shines on rythm section, as most of the "habitual" riffs are poured with a bit of extra. • CONS: the constant powerish drumming can get exhausting. But there's really nothing to complain about this album.
35. Mastodon - Crack The Skye
2009 stoner/sludge/avantgarde
36. Megadeth - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?
1986 thrash
37. Megadeth - Rust In Peace
1990 thrash
38. Mercyful Fate - Melissa
1983 heavy
39. Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse
1991 trash
40. Meshuggah - Destroy Erase Improve
1995 thrash/math
41. Meshuggah - Chaosphere
1998 tthrash/math
42. Meshuggah - Nothing
2002 math
43. Meshuggah - ObZen
2008 math
44. Meshuggah - Koloss
2012 math
45. Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep Of Reason
2016 math
46. Metallica - Master Of Puppets
1986 thrash
47. Metallica - Ride The Lightning
1984 thrash
48. Metallica - ...And Justice For All
1988 thrash
49. Morbid Angel - Altars Of Madness
1989 death • PROS: Morbid Angel is about sound texture. It sounds like the crazy cover art. Although there's a bunch of death metal bands playing comparable music, no one managed to sound as heavy, crushing, murky, bizarre, lumpy... I think that's due to - the extreme saturation of course, but also to the rythmic blur. The guitar riff are played with a lot of slides making the attack of the sound pretty unclear. The riffs are often intricate with uneven measure, strange syncopation or added beats. Also the drums sound a bit off, and that's likely a wanted effect participating in the indescriptible heavyness. Tremolo is used all along, adding the texture as much as the blastbeats. There are also solos everywhere, noisy leads reminding those of slayers (although they're more bearable), not set up as a specific segment for the guitarist to shine, but rather to fill some holes or burst out for quick and sporadic instants. I'd also like to adress the melodies, going from lugubrious classical-inspired lines to goofy stuff that would sound ridiculous if played by another instrument. It all participates in some kind of grotesqueness which is very likeable, just like the smiling figures drawn by Dan Seagrave. The music shifts from headbangable to danceable quite a few tiems • CONS: I remember this album being very difficult to get acustomed to when I wasn't used to death metal, indeed there's a lot of things going on you can't grasp on a first listen, also the sound is raw and noisy. The tonitruous leads can be offputing too.
50. Morbid Angel - Covenant
1993 death • PROS: like Altars but heavier, lower-pitched, a with a clearer sound. The murky sound texture is a constant for Morbid Angel so it's still present here, but the song structures have changed. They are simpler, meaning they have less riffs and segments, but they are still complicated to play. By doing so the band gave their songs more tightness. One more noteworthy point is the use of both slowness and speed at the same time. The blastbeats, tremolo, and 16th-note-precise rythm difficulties maintain the music as fast, yet the general impression is of a slow looming tempo, and songs progessing little by little. As opposed to Altars, which is closer to thrash metal. And did I mention that David Vincent's voice kicks ass on this record • CONS: can sound really repetitive is you hum the riffs in your head, so focus on something else.
51. Necrophagist - Onset Of Putrefaction
1999 brutal death
52. Necrophagist - Epitaph
2004 brutal death
53. Nocturnus AD - The Key
1990 space death/trash
54. Nocturnus AD - Thresholds
1992 space death/trash
55. Obscura - Akróasis
2016 death
56. Pestilence - Spheres
1993 death and spacy synths
57. Racer X - Second Heat
1987 heavy/speed
58. Racer X - Street Lethal
1986 heavy/speed
59. Sadist - Above The Light
1993 death/trash + melodic clean moments
60. Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King
1987 heavy/power
61. Savatage - Gutter Ballet
1989 heavy/power/prog
62. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Grand Opening And Closing
2001 experimental
63. Suffocation - Breeding The Spawn
1993 brutal death • PROS: crazy riffs as always (cf. Pierced From Within). But I mean even crazier riffs ! this album is Suffocation's most complicated one, it's getting ridiculous. • CONS: awful mixing almost nothing is audible. Go check the remade tracks maybe (featured as bonus on every following albums) or live versions. Also the second half of the album feels weaker than the first
64. Suffocation - Pierced From Within
1995 brutal death • PROS: Suffocation is known for putting as many riffs as possible in their songs. This album in particular I think is the most complete one, with excellent songwriting from start to finish. Even though using a lot of chromatism, the riffs and solos are very melodic, sometimes sounding like jazz or classical music. Playing them requires to learn odd patterns throughout the guitar neck and if this wasn't enough it's also really fast and there's a lot inside a single song. Suffocation is my favorite death metal band and I find their work captivating. Let's not talk about the excellent drumming and singing a bass-playing. Even the lyrics are above average, and I'm amazed by the way they've been inserted into this crazy riff-fest. • CONS: the mix sounds raw, but it's still too noisy in the mid/high range, that can hurt the ears a lot if you listen to it too loud. The second half of the album feels a bit weaker than the first 4 perfect almighty songs.
65. Suffocation - Blood Oath
2009 brutal death • PROS: This album of Suffocation especially have beautiful harmonies. Their music have always been very melodic, but the rarely used anything else than powerchords or clusters. Here they cleared their sound to ring whole chords for a musical bliss. That means they also dropped a bit of the chromatic stuff in favor of more usable scales. At last the 2 guitars can play different parts and harmonize. If you think about it that's actually rare to hear in death metal. Take a listen to the intro of Images of Purgatory, it sounds Major! (wtf). The solos are also notably beautiful. CONS: it's not brutal. In fact it can be a bit boring. The lyrics are a letdown too. I think it recieved a bad acclaim because it wasn't made for the habitual metalhead, yet it's still a great display of musical genius.
66. Suffocation - Pinnacle of Bedlam
2013 brutal death
67. Tool - Lateralus
2001 alt/math
68. Tool - 10,000 Days
2006 alt/math
69. Van Halen - Van Halen
1978 rock/heavy
70. Van Halen - Fair Warning
1981 rock/heavy
71. Van Halen - Diver Down
1982 rock/heavy
72. Van Halen - 1984
1984 rock/heavy
73. Van Halen - 5150
1986 rock/heavy
74. Vektor - Black Future
2009 thrash
75. Voivod - Nothingface
1989 thrash
76. Witherscape - The Inheritance
2013 melodic death



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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