Epic song lengths. Complex instrumentals. Odd time signatures. Concept albums with bizarre song titles and lyrics. Sure, these are staples of most, if not all, progressive bands, but some just do it a little better than others. We’re here to celebrate the bands that do it the best – the ones who define the genre and have had an impact both commercially and critically with some of the best albums and compositions of all time.
The artists who prove that the genre’s not all about long songs with arbitrary titles and instrumental wankery, and there is in fact a method to the prog madness. From Genesis to Rush to Tool and Pink Floyd, these groups are the epitome of experimentation and originality. Here’s a list of the 12 greatest progressive rock bands of all time. The genre may be well past its ‘70s heyday, but many of these artists are still recording and touring – and for bands and fans who like their rock a little less accessible and a little more weird, prog rock is still very much alive and well.
12. Porcupine Tree
The English band has created a devoted following with their combination of progressive, psychedelic and alternative rock. Formed in 1987 by Steven Wilson, the band has released 10 studio albums to mostly critical acclaim and have influenced countless other progressive rock and metal artists, with many bands and fans hailing Wilson as a creative genius.
11. Dream Theater
The band is well known for the technical proficiency that they display on their instruments, as well as for being one of the early progenitors of the progressive metal genre. Their operatic style often draws comparisons to metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but their combination of metal, symphonic rock, pop, soft rock and classical gives them a signature sound.