Here is the history of prog metal in 21 albums.

As much as we metalheads love traditionally straightforward and savage tunes, it’s often more enticing when bands challenge us with radically intricate, fantastical and experimental structures and/or concepts.

We’re talking, of course, about the genre-bending and mind-blowing world of progressive metal.

Although certain groups (such as Rush, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, King Crimson and ELP) helped forge the style from the late ‘60s onward, the first full-on prog metal albums didn’t really emerge until around the mid-‘80s.

READ MORE: The Roots of Progressive Metal in 11 Songs

Naturally, prog metal has expanded tremendously since then, with many significant bands doing their best to, well, progress the field via distinct cultural and stylistic flourishes. In fact, progressive metal has grown so much that it now houses its own set of subcategories (including progressive death metal, progressive folk metal, extreme/avant-garde metal, mathcore and symphonic metal).

Obviously, it’d be exhausting to trace all the major developments that’ve made the genre what it is today.

That’s why we’ve rounded up the following 21 albums to get you started! Even if you’re a veteran of the genre, you’ll no doubt agree that these LPs were instrumental making progressive metal so multifaceted and remarkable.

The History of Prog Metal in 21 Albums

Dive into the diverse and hypnotic history of progressive metal!

Gallery Credit: Jordan Blum

Best Progressive Rock + Metal Album of Each Year Since 1983

Scroll through the Best Progressive Rock + Metal Album of Each Year Since 1983

Gallery Credit: Jordan Blum