31 votes

What are your favorite concept albums?

From Wikipedia:

A concept album is an album whose tracks hold a larger purpose or meaning collectively than they do individually. This is typically achieved through a single central narrative or theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, or lyrical. [...]

If possible, a brief summary of the "concept" of the album would be much appreciated.

44 comments

  1. [4]
    Akir
    Link
    I'm a fan of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards, and they have quite a few concept albums, but my favorite is probably Nonagon Infinity. The concept is simple; it's an album designed to loop...

    I'm a fan of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards, and they have quite a few concept albums, but my favorite is probably Nonagon Infinity. The concept is simple; it's an album designed to loop forever. While it may have some deeper meanings, it's good to just kind of get caught up in, you know?

    If musical soundtracks count as soundtrack albums, I'd have infinite material to talk about. We could talk for hours just about The Sound of Music.

    It's a bit rare of an occasion, but I feel some video game soundtracks can also be concept albums so long as they have music that follows the story of the game. The perfect example is probably Yuki Kajiura's soundtrack for Xenosaga Episode II. While it doesn't have any understandable vocals so there is no concrete ideas being presented like people, places, or things, it certainly takes you on a journey. Some of her songs pull you through entire emotional processes; "Lamentation", for instance, pulls you through many different stages of grief. The most theatric song on the album is "Communication Breakdown", where it balances a sense of danger with urgency and somehow manages to define the emotional stakes of the conflict at the same time; without even knowing the context of the story you can surmise that you are fighting for a companion and that there are higher philosophical concepts at stake as well.

    11 votes
    1. asoftbird
      Link Parent
      Hooking into King Giz: Flying Microtonal Banana: A whole album with instruments tuned to microtones, sounds very much different than what most Western people are used to. Polygondwanaland: Almost...

      Hooking into King Giz:

      • Flying Microtonal Banana: A whole album with instruments tuned to microtones, sounds very much different than what most Western people are used to.

      • Polygondwanaland: Almost like a 1970's Yes concept stoner album. There's instrumental transitions between songs, so it feels like one big song with fuzzy boundaries between songs. It's also open source; anyone can make CDs/LPs/tapes/whatever and sell it. It's free to download. Vinyl masters too.

      Honestly, anything by KGATLW is a concept album on it's own. Their styles/ideas change just about every album.

      And, KG as a concept band itself: releasing 5 albums in a year, just because they wanted to see if they could.

      5 votes
    2. Death
      Link Parent
      Went to see King Gizzard last October, never heard of them before that. Just absolutely amazing show taking several songs from several albums (thought mostly from Infest the Rat's Nest) to...

      Went to see King Gizzard last October, never heard of them before that. Just absolutely amazing show taking several songs from several albums (thought mostly from Infest the Rat's Nest) to apparently create an entirely now show from it.

      Been a fan ever since, possibly one of the best sets I've ever attended.

      5 votes
    3. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure how can you mention King Gizzard in a thread about concept albums and not mention Eyes Like the Sky...

      I'm not sure how can you mention King Gizzard in a thread about concept albums and not mention Eyes Like the Sky...

      Described as a "cult western audio book", the album is narrated and written by Broderick Smith, the frontman for the 1970s Australian rock group The Dingoes and the father of King Gizzard keyboardist Ambrose Kenny Smith. The story revolves around child soldiers, native Americans and gun fights, all set in the American frontier.

      When asked about the album's influences, Stu Mackenzie alluded to the spaghetti western influence throughout the album, stating "I love Western films. I love bad guys and I love Red Dead Redemption. Oh, and I love evil guitars".

      1 vote
  2. ntgg
    (edited )
    Link
    My favorite concept album is good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar. The concept is pretty simple, his life growing up in Compton and how it changed him into who he is, and is executed almost...

    My favorite concept album is good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar. The concept is pretty simple, his life growing up in Compton and how it changed him into who he is, and is executed almost perfectly. The songs are all amazing, with a good mix of vibes. It also has the song 'Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst' which is one of my favorite songs of all time.

    11 votes
  3. [3]
    rogue_cricket
    (edited )
    Link
    Janelle Monae has an entire concept series called Metropolis which is presented in five suites. The first is called The Chase Suite, and then the album The ArchAndroid has Suite II and Suite III....

    Janelle Monae has an entire concept series called Metropolis which is presented in five suites. The first is called The Chase Suite, and then the album The ArchAndroid has Suite II and Suite III. Suites IV and V are on the album Electric Lady.

    It's a sci-fi space opera. It begins with Cyndi Mayweather, an android who has fallen in love with a human in a dystopian world. She is being chased down by bounty hunters until "her cyber-soul is turned into the Star Commission". As with most sci-fi she draws parallels to reality, especially with regards to racial injustice and hegemony.

    I'll admit that it's kind of a lot (two albums and change), and it's pretty weird, and the narrative is often more implied by the tracks than it is literally explained by them. But I have an absolutely sincere love for it.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      upfish
      Link Parent
      I love Janelle Monae but didnt know this. Definitely gonna give it a closer listen this weekend!

      I love Janelle Monae but didnt know this. Definitely gonna give it a closer listen this weekend!

      2 votes
      1. rogue_cricket
        Link Parent
        I'm gonna re-listen when I can too, haha. It's been a while! The Chase Suite is for sure the most explicit about how everything goes down (this song is a good example) but for the rest of it I...

        I'm gonna re-listen when I can too, haha. It's been a while! The Chase Suite is for sure the most explicit about how everything goes down (this song is a good example) but for the rest of it I think you have to be paying closer attention and connect a few of the dots yourself.

        1 vote
  4. [3]
    wexx
    Link
    Ziltoid the Omniscient by Devin Townsend is a fun one. It's Devin Townsend's (Strapping Young Lad, also a bunch of other stuff) weird Sci-Fi Metal Opera. It's about an alien that traverses...

    Ziltoid the Omniscient by Devin Townsend is a fun one. It's Devin Townsend's (Strapping Young Lad, also a bunch of other stuff) weird Sci-Fi Metal Opera. It's about an alien that traverses dimensions and space in search of the finest cup of coffee, and he finds earth. I liked it a lot in high school, and I think about it a lot when people bring up concept albums, because that's one of the first ones I ever consciously listened to (while knowing what a concept album was).

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      asoftbird
      Link Parent
      Thematically silly, musically very good, especially the latter few songs of the album. The second installment wasn't too great though, I'd generally reccommend skipping that.

      Thematically silly, musically very good, especially the latter few songs of the album. The second installment wasn't too great though, I'd generally reccommend skipping that.

      4 votes
      1. wexx
        Link Parent
        Yes, I honestly forgot about that one til I saw this thread and looked up it on spotify to listen again ^^;

        Yes, I honestly forgot about that one til I saw this thread and looked up it on spotify to listen again ^^;

  5. [2]
    EditingAndLayout
    Link
    Kate Tempest's Let Them Eat Chaos is the best concept album I've ever heard, and one of my favorite albums in general. The album follows seven people who all live on the same street. The lyrics...

    Kate Tempest's Let Them Eat Chaos is the best concept album I've ever heard, and one of my favorite albums in general. The album follows seven people who all live on the same street. The lyrics are just perfect.

    A sample section of one track:

    Tunnel Vision

    She's screaming, she's screaming
    The drones turned her beautiful boy into a pile of bones
    No body to bury, nobody is home
    Running from war, the boat's full, the boat's sinking a mile off shore
    No beds in the hospitals, our minds are against us
    Imagine your daughter was gunned down defenceless on her way to school
    There'd be uproar
    But she's collateral damage, it doesn't matter
    Now if our kids are fine, that's enough for us
    You can't love into a vacuum, there's got to be a limit
    Welcome to the biggest crime that's ever been committed
    You think you and I are different kinds, you're caught up in specifics
    You and I apart are easier to limit
    The illusion's so complete it's impossible to bring it into focus
    Cinematic stock footage, you think people are locusts
    Uniform men keep unleashing explosives

    7 votes
    1. mat
      Link Parent
      I preferred Everybody Down, personally, but it's a close call. I saw her tour Let Them Eat Chaos, she's incredible live, she did People's Faces as an encore (it was the first live performance of...

      I preferred Everybody Down, personally, but it's a close call. I saw her tour Let Them Eat Chaos, she's incredible live, she did People's Faces as an encore (it was the first live performance of it) and I swear half the place (myself included) was in tears which I've never ever seen at a gig before.

      2 votes
  6. [2]
    zigzagzig
    Link
    Off the top of my head: 36 Chambers by Wu Tang, DANGERDOOM, Madvillainy, MM..FOOD

    Off the top of my head: 36 Chambers by Wu Tang, DANGERDOOM, Madvillainy, MM..FOOD

    7 votes
  7. Wulfsta
    Link
    Here are a few lesser known ones that I think are interesting: Broken Bride by Ludo A man's wife dies in an accident, so he invents a time machine to try and travel back in time to save her. He...

    Here are a few lesser known ones that I think are interesting:

    Broken Bride by Ludo

    A man's wife dies in an accident, so he invents a time machine to try and travel back in time to save her. He ends up travelling from the prehistoric past to the far future due to problems with the machine.

    Seven Horses for Seven Kings by Black to Comm

    YouTube is an awful place to listen to this, I would recommend using another option if you can. This is chilling to listen to, and I haven't talked to anyone who hasn't felt dread while doing so. Worth a listen if you have an hour of time to sit down and take it in.

    Here are some more well-known ones that are phenomenal in their respective genres:

    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie

    The story is more or less what's on the tin. In my opinion this is probably one of the best albums ever released.

    Immunity by Jon Hopkins

    A phenomenal record that details a night out. Also it's techno/house.

    Since I Left You by The Avalanches

    Not linking this one, since I can't find a link to the Australian release (the original) which has different samples than other releases. If you're going to to listen to it, find that one. I've always interpreted this as someone being harshly broken up with, falling into a slump, then getting up and travelling the world. The end to this journey is realizing that nothing has changed about their life, and they're still in the same place they started at.

    7 votes
  8. [2]
    vord
    Link
    Don't have time to elaborate on why at the moment, but if I remember I'll edit to add later. In no particular order: My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The...

    Don't have time to elaborate on why at the moment, but if I remember I'll edit to add later.

    In no particular order:

    • My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
    • My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
    • Daft Punk - Discovery (Interstella 5555)
    • Pink Floyd - The Wall
    • Virtually any Rush album
    • DiAmorte - The Red Opera (metal + opera)
    • Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero
    6 votes
    1. reifyresonance
      Link Parent
      My roommate showed me the music videos for Danger Days last year - I couldn't believe I had missed such a big part of the story. Definitely recommend for people who haven't seen it.

      My roommate showed me the music videos for Danger Days last year - I couldn't believe I had missed such a big part of the story. Definitely recommend for people who haven't seen it.

      1 vote
  9. mat
    Link
    A Grand Don't Come For Free by The Streets. @EditingAndLayout mentions Kate Tempest, Tempest owes a lot to Mike Skinner from The Streets (she says as much herself). That's not a dig at Tempest -...

    A Grand Don't Come For Free by The Streets. @EditingAndLayout mentions Kate Tempest, Tempest owes a lot to Mike Skinner from The Streets (she says as much herself). That's not a dig at Tempest - everyone builds on people who went before, of course. But if you like Kate Tempest, check out The Streets, and vice-versa.

    I love this album, it's perfectly of it's time - Skinner is about the same age as me so he's always written about the kind of things I'm going through at the same sort of time as him. When it came out I was doing this sort of young-adult-out-in-the-world stuff too. Not that you need to be in the same situation as an artist to enjoy their work, and being so doesn't mean you will, but still. I love The Streets. Skinner's lyrics and delivery really work for me, he's very smart and well read but he's also down to earth and funny with it.

    The album also contains one of the best musical representations of a drug trip I know of, in the song Blinded By The Lights. It somehow captures the woozy, wobbly confusion which is coming up on ecstasy perfectly. (fwiw, the other one I like is The Beatles' Strawberry Fields which is very, very LSD)

    6 votes
  10. knocklessmonster
    Link
    So, you can't ask about concept albums and expect anybody to just say one. If I had a number one album, it would be Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. It was composed and performed essentially as one...

    So, you can't ask about concept albums and expect anybody to just say one.

    If I had a number one album, it would be Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. It was composed and performed essentially as one song. When people thought their previous album "Aqualung" was a concept album, Ian Anderson basically said "You want a concept album? I'll give you a concept album," and came up with this background story about a wunderkind who wrote an award winning poem, which was the song that comprises the 45-minute album. Anderson followed it up with a sequel, Thick as a Brick 2, which was pretty good, but nowhere near as good as the original, though and I didn't care for where he put the cuts. Seeing him and his crew perform both albums a few years ago was pretty amazing, though, but my love for this album was from growing up with it.

    The M Machine's Metropolis pt I-II was impressive. They do EDM, basically across various genres, but this two-part EP was released with liner notes that reveal the story to the album. The story is interesting, and the music does a good job of backing it up, while also working entirely on its own. I wholly recommend following this journey to its end. It was loosely inspired by Fritz Lang's movie, and actually caused me to watch it.

    Mastodon's entire discography is concept albums from different angles. About a person, theme, whatever. They have two of my favorites. First is Leviathan, which is based on Herman Melville's Moby Dick. They were also the first intense metal band I really liked. The second album of theirs I'll mention is Crack the Skye, dedicated to Brann Dailor's sister, Skye, who committed suicide. The album is about a physically disabled child who discovers astral projection, but becomes separated from his body, and is led back by none other than Rasputin. I think these two albums are their best, honestly.

    6 votes
  11. [3]
    moonbathers
    Link
    The first one that comes to mind for me is Dark Assault by Iron Savior. Their first four albums are concept albums related to a gigantic spaceship called the Iron Savior that's controlled in part...

    The first one that comes to mind for me is Dark Assault by Iron Savior. Their first four albums are concept albums related to a gigantic spaceship called the Iron Savior that's controlled in part by a person's mind that was implanted into the ship.

    Some context that I thought was important but might not be
    Its original purpose was to defend Earth, but during a civil war (the first album) the ship was hacked and ordered to fly out into space for thousands of years as a way to remove it from the conflict. When it came back it found that Earth was populated by completely new people and subjugated them, thinking they were its creators' enemies (the second album). The resistance against it discovers an ancient underground complex in which someone who had originally worked on the ship is cryogenically frozen and he is awakened, but even he is not able to make it realize its mistake. Fortunately, an alien race who had been tracking the Savior down arrives, and together with the Earth resistance they defeat the Savior and break through to it that it's killing the people it's supposed to protect. In its guilt, it leaves Earth and allows humanity to be free once again.

    Now, on the third album, humanity and its new alien friends are left to fend for themselves. Decades later they're attacked by an unknown force and early on it's not going well. During this time the Savior struggles with what it did while it wasn't lucid. It eventually makes peace with what it has done and decides to return to Earth to fulfill its original purpose. Even with the Savior's help, the forces of the Shadow are barely being held back. Out of the blue, the raiding party sent out early on returns with news that they've destroyed the gate that the Shadow is coming through. With their reinforcements cut off, the remaining Shadow forces are defeated.

    Neither the music nor the story of the album is really groundbreaking, I think, but the story is cool and the music is fantastic. Iron Savior has largely stuck to the same sort of 80s/90s-style power metal over their career, but their sound is great and the songs aren't just structured verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus. There are plenty of phrases and small sections of the music that could almost be an entire song on their own, but go as quickly as they came and I think that's what sets Iron Savior and particularly this album apart from other similar bands.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      CedarMadness
      Link Parent
      I always liked how Iron Savior had sort of a concept discography, in that all of their albums continued the same story, but the last few albums have been a huge letdown. Their old sound seems to...

      I always liked how Iron Savior had sort of a concept discography, in that all of their albums continued the same story, but the last few albums have been a huge letdown. Their old sound seems to be gone and the songs don't really relate to the story at all.

      1. moonbathers
        Link Parent
        Yeah, after Condition Red they started only making a few songs on each album related to the story. I think after The Landing they've started declining in quality a bit too, but it is what it is....

        Yeah, after Condition Red they started only making a few songs on each album related to the story. I think after The Landing they've started declining in quality a bit too, but it is what it is. It seems like they're still having fun which is the important thing.

  12. [2]
    asoftbird
    (edited )
    Link
    Ayreon is one of my favorites. It's Arjen Lucassen, a single composer who recruits artists/musicians for his albums, often a huge selection- this one has 17 vocalists! The albums tell a fairly...

    Ayreon is one of my favorites. It's Arjen Lucassen, a single composer who recruits artists/musicians for his albums, often a huge selection- this one has 17 vocalists! The albums tell a fairly large and long sci-fi prog rock/metal opera story with environmentalist undertones that spans multiple albums, I think all the way back to the first one from 1995.

    The overarching story has themes related to creation of life, near(climate change, rogue AIs) and far futures. I'm bad at describing stuff so I urge you to read the wiki page for the albums or the fan wiki page on the story.

    Also, by the same guy, but as a solo project: Lost In The New Real.
    As far as I know it's mostly sung and played by Lucassen himself, with guest voiceovers from the late Rutger Hauer(mostly known as the actor for the main antagonist of Blade Runner).
    Themes are, again, space scifi and far future but this time more focused on one person, who is revived in a distant future and is shocked by the changes that human life has undergone.

    For both story arcs though: Themes are fairly melancholic and sometimes just plain old depressing. I don't recommend listening if you're easily affected by that (i.e. me a decade ago).

    Edit: Here's a link to a song for good measure.

    Beneath The Waves off the album 01011001.

    5 votes
    1. arp242
      Link Parent
      Which is not necessarily a good thing 😅 For his many talents, vocals is not one of them I'm afraid. Still a good album though. Into the Electric Castle is the best Ayreon album, IMHO. It just...

      As far as I know it's mostly sung and played by Lucassen himself

      Which is not necessarily a good thing 😅 For his many talents, vocals is not one of them I'm afraid. Still a good album though.

      Into the Electric Castle is the best Ayreon album, IMHO. It just sounds amazing. The Star One side-project is also worth checking out, especially if you're into science fiction. But really, pretty much anything Arjen has done over the last 25 years is worth checking out.

  13. [2]
    Death
    Link
    Since nobody's mentioned them yet so far: The Protomen - Act 2. It's probably cliché at this point in nerd circles to sing the praises of the Protomen, but honestly I keep coming back to this...

    Since nobody's mentioned them yet so far: The Protomen - Act 2. It's probably cliché at this point in nerd circles to sing the praises of the Protomen, but honestly I keep coming back to this album and it just amazes me every single time. Both in how well they've adapted the Megaman lore into their own story, but also how well the songs work both individually and in sequence. The Father of Death is probably one of my favorite songs of all time in terms of conceptual music.

    5 votes
    1. scissortail
      Link Parent
      I'm not even huge on Megaman and I love their work. Some serious musicianship on display on those albums.

      I'm not even huge on Megaman and I love their work. Some serious musicianship on display on those albums.

  14. krg
    Link
    Pretty much all of Kendrick Lamar's oeuvre. DAMN., in particular. A freakin' fantastic album.

    Pretty much all of Kendrick Lamar's oeuvre. DAMN., in particular. A freakin' fantastic album.

    5 votes
  15. [2]
    multubunu
    Link
    Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy! Details (from wikipedia) Flying Teapot: Radio Gnome Invisible, Part 1 (1973) The story begins on the album Flying Teapot (1973), when a pig-farming...

    Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy!

    Details (from wikipedia)

    Flying Teapot: Radio Gnome Invisible, Part 1 (1973)

    The story begins on the album Flying Teapot (1973), when a pig-farming Egyptologist called Mista T. Being is sold a "magick ear ring" by an "antique teapot street vendor and tea label collector" called Fred the Fish. The ear ring is capable of receiving messages from the Planet Gong via a pirate radio station called Radio Gnome Invisible. Being and Fish head off to the Hymnalayas of Tibet (sic) where they meet the "great beer yogi" Banana Ananda in a cave. Ananda tends to chant "Banana Nirvana Mañana" a lot and gets drunk on Foster's Australian Lager. (This latter development mirrors the real-life experience of band members Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth who met their saxophonist, Didier Malherbe, in a cave in Majorca.)

    Meanwhile, the mythology's central character, Zero the Hero, is going about his everyday life when he suddenly has a vision in Charing Cross Road, London. He is compelled to seek heroes and starts worshiping the Cock Pot Pixie, one of a number of Pot Head Pixies from the Planet Gong. These pixies are green, have propellers on their heads, and fly around in teapots (inspired by [Bertrand] Russell's teapot).[50]

    Zero is soon distracted by a cat to whom he offers his fish and chips. The cat is actually the Good Witch Yoni, and she gives Zero a potion in return.

    Angel's Egg: Radio Gnome Invisible, Part 2 (1973)

    The second part, Angel's Egg (1973), begins with Zero falling asleep under the influence of the potion and finding himself floating through space. After accidentally scaring a space pilot called Captain Capricorn, Zero locates the Planet Gong, and spends some time with a prostitute who introduces him to the moon goddess Selene.

    Zero's drug-induced trip to the Planet Gong continues, and the Pot Head Pixies explain to him how their flying teapots fly: a system known as Glidding. He is then taken to the One Invisible Temple of Gong.

    Inside the temple, Zero is shown the Angel's Egg, the physical embodiment of the 32 Octave Doctors (descendants of the Great God Cell). The Angel's Egg is the magic-eye mandala that features on much of the band's sleeve-art. It is also a sort of recycling plant for Pot Head Pixies.

    A grand plan is revealed to Zero: there will be a Great Melting Feast of Freeks which Zero must organise on Earth. When everyone is enjoying the Feast, a huge global concert, the Switch Doctor will turn everybody's third eye on, ushering in a New Age on Earth. The Switch Doctor is the Earth's resident Octave Doctor, who lives near Banana Ananda's cave, in a "potheadquarters" called the Compagnie d'Opera Invisible de Thibet (C.O.I.T.) and transmits all the details to the Gong Band via the Bananamoon Observatory.

    You: Radio Gnome Invisible, Part 3 (1974)

    In the third instalment, You (1974), Zero must first return from his trip. He asks Hiram the Master Builder how to structure his vision and build his own Invisible Temple. Having done this, Zero establishes that he must organise the Great Melting Feast of Freeks on the Isle of Everywhere: Bali.

    The event is going well, and the Switch Doctor switches on everyone's third eyes except for Zero's, for he is out the back, indulging in Earthly pleasures ("fruitcake").

    Zero has missed out on the whole third eye revelation experience and is forced to continue his existence spinning around on the wheel of births and deaths and slowly converging on the Angel's Egg in a way which, to a certain extent, resembles Buddhist reincarnation.

    Gong is a seventies band playing progressive / jazz / space rock. If you don't know them, spare a little time to get into the style, they may be hard to appreciate in the beginning.

    Spotify playlist of the trilogy (the last seven songs are extras... it was the best I could find online).

    4 votes
  16. seizethegoddamngap
    Link
    For something a little different, everyone should check out Radical Face's 'The Family Tree' album series. The albums ('The Roots', 'The Branches', 'The Leaves', and B-side collection 'The...

    For something a little different, everyone should check out Radical Face's 'The Family Tree' album series. The albums ('The Roots', 'The Branches', 'The Leaves', and B-side collection 'The Bastards') are all about the descendants of a man named William Northcote. Ben Cooper is the man behind Radical Face; he writes all the songs and does all the web design and is simply a wonderful person. This guide goes through every song on the 4 albums.

    4 votes
  17. stromm
    Link
    It's a toss up between Rush's 2112 and Alan Parson's Project's Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

    It's a toss up between Rush's 2112 and Alan Parson's Project's Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

    4 votes
  18. 888
    Link
    Daft Punk - Discovery / Interstella 5555 Pink Floyd - The Wall

    Daft Punk - Discovery / Interstella 5555
    Pink Floyd - The Wall

    3 votes
  19. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Night of the Stormrider by Iced Earth: youtube, wiki, lyrics Nightfall in Middle Earth by Blind Guardian: youtube, wiki, lyrics Blood on Ice by Bathory: youtube, wiki, lyrics

    Night of the Stormrider by Iced Earth: youtube, wiki, lyrics

    The album's concept is about a man who is betrayed by religion and turns away from it in anger. The dark forces of nature reach out to this enraged man and use him as their vessel to bring death and destruction to Earth. He is commanded to travel to a desert, where he is given visions that reveal the truth of humanity, and warp his mind further to make him the "Stormrider". After the destruction of the world, he is then damned forever into the depths of Hell, also referenced as the River Styx. After being forever damned and taunted by evil spirits, he eventually sees what he has done, and realizes that it is too late to repent.

    Nightfall in Middle Earth by Blind Guardian: youtube, wiki, lyrics

    It is a concept album based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, a book of tales from the First Age of Middle-earth, recounting the War of the Jewels. The album contains not only songs but also spoken parts narrating parts of the story. The cover represents Lúthien dancing in front of Morgoth. It is widely regarded as one of Blind Guardian's most well-known and well-received albums in their discography.

    Blood on Ice by Bathory: youtube, wiki, lyrics

    The anonymous central character, aged ten when the tale begins, is the sole survivor of a raid by twenty black-clad horsemen bearing the banner of the 'twin-headed Beast' against his village. All the men are slain, and the women and children carried off to the far North, whilst the central character survives by hiding in a tree. He spends fifteen years alone in the wilderness, where he grows strong and learns the ways of the forest, the memories of the atrocities he has witnessed galvanising him. Then, one day, he meets a one-eyed old man (most probably Odin, although the tale always refers to him merely as 'One-Eyed Old Man') who tells him that he has foreseen his coming for a thousand years, and that he has been chosen as a champion of the Gods to fight their battle in the shadows beyond his world. To this end he will be granted a number of mighty artifacts and abilities, and be trained for a hundred days and nights by the old man. The first of these artifacts is a mighty sword (probably Tyrfing), forged in the dawn of the world, and the second given in a song is a mighty, eight-legged stallion ridden by 'his father's God' (Sleipnir, Odin's steed).

    He will also be guided by two ravens (Huginn and Muninn), and is granted a number of supernatural powers: first, the woodwoman, a witch, takes his heart, for which price he can withstand any cut or slit. Then he travels to the bottomless lake in which all the knowledge of the worlds, old and new, is stored. The old man cast his left eye into the lake in order to give him his powers of wisdom and foresight (making the lake roughly analogous to Mimir's well), and the central character casts both his eyes into the lake, which not only means he gains all its powers of knowledge and vision, but also that he will not have to stare down the Beast during his final battle. He rides North, guided by the ravens and by the ancient Gods, to confront his destiny. He charges down the gates of Hel and defeats the Beast in combat, as well as freeing the souls of those that had been held captive here, riding with them to Valhalla.

    3 votes
  20. gpl
    Link
    Illinois by Sufjan Stevens is not only my favorite concept album, but also one of my favorite albums of all time. It's basically an Illinois themed album absolutely brimming with cultural and...

    Illinois by Sufjan Stevens is not only my favorite concept album, but also one of my favorite albums of all time. It's basically an Illinois themed album absolutely brimming with cultural and historical references. I think I read somewhere that he would actually visit places like county historical societies to help write his songs. If you have not listened to this album, please, please do so. Some consider it one of the best albums of the 00's. Some highlights include Chicago, Casimir Pulaski Day, and of course John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

    The Monitor by Titus Andronicus is an amazing Civil War themed concept album from a good band. Check out the song "A More Perfect Union" for a good banger.

    3 votes
  21. TheRtRevKaiser
    Link
    I love The Alchemy Index by Thrice. It's a two volume, four disk album themed around the four classic elements. So there's a Fire album, Earth album, Air album, and Water Album. In addition to the...

    I love The Alchemy Index by Thrice. It's a two volume, four disk album themed around the four classic elements. So there's a Fire album, Earth album, Air album, and Water Album. In addition to the lyrics being themed around the elements, each of the albums has a very different sound that is meant to represent its element. Fire is super aggressive and very, very heavy, water has a lot of delay/reverb and some synth sounds, etc. As an added bonus, each of the albums ends with a song written in sonnet form.

    3 votes
  22. tnkflx
    Link
    Strange that no one mentioned the (most likely) first concept album: Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours Such a good album, that captures the state of Frank Sinatra at the time... Career in...

    Strange that no one mentioned the (most likely) first concept album:

    • Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours

    Such a good album, that captures the state of Frank Sinatra at the time... Career in decline, dropped from record label, divorce, ...

    3 votes
  23. tomf
    Link
    mewithoutYou has a few concept records, technically speaking. But if we're being stricter about it, I'd have to go with Ten Stories It's all about a circus train that crashes and the various...

    mewithoutYou has a few concept records, technically speaking. But if we're being stricter about it, I'd have to go with Ten Stories

    It's all about a circus train that crashes and the various animals' journeys around Montana... which sounds weird, but it's really beautiful.

    My favorite track, thematically, is Bear's Vision of St. Agnes.

    The fox and bear and nearing the end of their lives, since they've wandered for so long without anything to eat. Bear tells fox a story about how his brother died and was left at the bottom of this cliff, and that the fox should head on down and eat while he stays up top to rest.

    The fox agrees and while she heads down, the bear throws himself from the cliff to his death.

    2 votes
  24. muh_tilde
    Link
    2 of my favorites that haven't been mentioned are hip-hop albums from 20-25 years ago both featuring production form Dan the Automator. Deltron 3030 Dr. Octagonecologyst The production on both...

    2 of my favorites that haven't been mentioned are hip-hop albums from 20-25 years ago both featuring production form Dan the Automator.

    Deltron 3030

    Dr. Octagonecologyst

    The production on both these albums is incredible. Also Del & Kool Keith are 2 of my favorite MCs. I still go back and listen to these once in a while. Classics.

    2 votes
  25. culturedleftfoot
    Link
    The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd. I can't say anything meaningful about this that hasn't already been said. One of the greatest albums of all time. Two from Lupe Fiasco. Neither one is...

    The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd. I can't say anything meaningful about this that hasn't already been said. One of the greatest albums of all time.

    Two from Lupe Fiasco. Neither one is actually a full-on, total concept album but I'll still include them.

    Lupe Fiasco's The Cool

    The Cool is a loose concept album based on a song of the same name from his debut album where Lupe raps about a resurrected victim of street life. The Cool expands the narrative and personifies The Streets and The Game:

    I expand on the story, I introduce two other characters, the Game and the Streets. The Streets is a female. She's like the action personification of the streets, the street life, the call of the streets. The Game is the same way. The Game is the personification of the game. The pimp's game, the hustler's game, the con man's game, whatever. Then they've got supernatural characteristics. Like the Cool, his right hand is rotted away. The only thing that rotted away was his right hand. It represents the rotting away of his righteousness, of his good. And the Streets and the Cool kind of have a love affair going on. So she's represented by this locket. And the locket has a key and it's on fire. And as a gift to the Cool on his rise to fame, she gave him the key. And the key represents the key to the Streets. So she wears a locket around her neck at all times. And the way the story goes, she has given that key to tons of people throughout time. Al Capone, Alexander the Great, whatever. She's giving them the key to the Streets. Fame and fortune — but also the prices. The Game, he's represented by a stripped-down skull, a skull with dice in his eyes and smoke coming out of his mouth. The billowing smoke is actually crack smoke. It's not a full concept album; it's more spread over like five [tracks], really abstractly.

    Drogas Wave

    Drogas Wave is, if I'm remembering correctly, the second half of the remnants of another concept album Lupe originally thought up as DROGAS, but evolved primarily due to disputes with his label. Only the first 1/3 of this incarnation is relevant as concept here, but these eight tracks are built on an impressive premise:

    It’s about a group of slaves on a slave ship on their way [from] Africa to the West Indies and they are thrown off the boat. But they didn’t die. They stayed alive and they lived under the sea. And they dedicated their lives to sinking slave ships -- so they became this super, underwater force against slavery.

    By the time the seventh song, Down, comes around, a chorus that looks utterly ridiculous in print is an absolutely brilliant earworm in context:

    Fish is my friends and the whales is my homies
    Octopus is my people, the shrimp they all know me

    The other 2/3 of the album doesn't disappoint either.

    2 votes
  26. frostycakes
    Link
    The Suburbs by Arcade Fire. I grew up in a suburban area much like the one in Texas that they drew on as inspiration for this album, and they hit the nail on the head with it being "a letter from...

    The Suburbs by Arcade Fire. I grew up in a suburban area much like the one in Texas that they drew on as inspiration for this album, and they hit the nail on the head with it being "a letter from the suburbs".

    1 vote
  27. boredop
    Link
    John Coltrane - A Love Supreme. A four-part suite that represents Coltrane's thanks to God after his recovery from drug addiction a few years earlier. The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out. The...

    John Coltrane - A Love Supreme.
    A four-part suite that represents Coltrane's thanks to God after his recovery from drug addiction a few years earlier.

    The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out.
    The first jazz album to explore time signatures outside of the standard 4/4. Included a mega-hit (by jazz standards) in Take Five.

    Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
    From Wikipedia: The narrative established by the songs is told from the point of view of a Vietnam veteran returning to his home country to witness hatred, suffering, and injustice. Gaye's introspective lyrics explore themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. He has also been credited with promoting awareness of ecological issues before the public outcry over them had become prominent.

    Honorable mention to another Marvin Gaye album, Here My Dear. As part of an ugly divorce, Marvin agreed to give half of the royalties from his next album to his ex-wife. He made the album entirely about the divorce.

    Parliament - Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome
    Chronicles the epic battle for the fate of the funk between Star Child and Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk.

    Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage
    A rock opera about a future in which music is outlawed. Contains some mind-blowing playing,, lots of curse words and some very silly humor, not all of which has aged well.

    Then there are film and theater soundtracks and adaptations, like Superfly, Trouble Man, Porgy and Bess (the Miles Davis/Gil Evans version), and Jesus Christ Superstar (original London cast).

    1 vote
  28. AlexMax
    Link
    Probably my favorite concept album is I, Phantom by New England rapper Mr. Lif. It was one of the cornerstone releases of the early Definitive Jux record label, and the older I get, the more my...

    Probably my favorite concept album is I, Phantom by New England rapper Mr. Lif.

    It was one of the cornerstone releases of the early Definitive Jux record label, and the older I get, the more my mind returns to it. Focusing on the dark side of the American dream, the lyrics do not paint a very bright picture, and the ending is particularly bleak, but it's such a pleasure to listen to with great lyricism and flow on top of some amazing beats it's really hard not to listen to it the whole way through.

    And the strangest part is that the only reason I know this album exists is because of Tony Hawk's Underground. It had a song on it by Mr. Lif called Phantom, but despite the name this song is not on the I, Phantom album anywhere except as background music to the opening skit. I thought it was strange to omit it, especially as it was such a great song on its own merits, but now I understand that it just didn't fit into the POV narrative of the album.

    1 vote