Early Concept Albums
The concept album goes back at least to Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads and probably even before that 1940's album. Early Rock and Roll embraced the idea with bands such as The Beatles, Frank Zappa, and the Kinks producing their own concept albums. That made the way for Pink Floyd. Thanks to the popularity of Floyd many more bands embraced the concept.
Metal Concept Albums
If you are interested in the idea of Conceptual Metal there are a few albums you should listen to: the British Metal giant Iron Maiden produced a concept album based on the Orson Scott Card fantasy novel of the same name, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; Queensrÿche released Operation Mindcrime in 1988 and it has become a standard to which all modern conceptual albums are measured against. It is a brilliant dystopian dream and excellent album; The iconic Metalheads known as W.A.S.P. gave their rabid fans a treat when they produced The Crimson Idol, an album about the excesses of the Rock Star life; Dream Theater produced an album titled Octavarium in 2005 based on the human personality; and my favorite Ayreon The Dream Sequencer. It is a pet project of the musical genius Arjen Lucassen. There are many more examples, and if you want to wade into the deep you can always start with Loudwire's Top 10 Best Metal Concept Albums.
Modern Conceptual Metal
This leads me to some newer modern Metal bands that are following in the conceptual album path. The first of these is Stage of Reality. It is the project of Italian guitarist Andrea Neri previously from the Prog Metal Astarte Syriaca. The album The Breathing Machines is a concept album based on the article "Il Corriere della Sera" written by Pier Pasoline in 1973, the book "1984," and George Orwell's classic "Animal Farm."
Reviews on the album have called it: "a wonderful blending of old school Metal vibes with a plethora of more modern influences"; "Singer Francesco delivers a great performance and his voice gives the songs just a little more"; and "The Breathing Machines is in fact one of those albums that should reach the top in terms of success and sales."
The next band is a Progressive Metal group from Bucharest, Romania. Axial Lead's 2014 album Of Infamous Credentials landed them on Prog Metal Zone's top 50 albums for last year.
The concept is eleven tracks that flow through the memories of an escaped convict at sea who is washed ashore on an island. It is "an uncertain world and strange realms where reality is bent by his own moral decay, as he twists the rules that bind together his past and future lives."
You can find the album for free on their Bandcamp site.
Being half Finn myself I am more than happy to end this with a Finnish Progressive Metal band. Malpractice's 2014 concept album Turning Tides is about an extremely intelligent man who finds great difficulty in finding his way in the world.
The album sounds great! Full of smokin' riffs and that sweet distortion that just chugs along with the manic drumming. Their singer Aleksi Parviainen is endowed with a classic and smooth Metal voice that just tops off the top notch talent that is displayed by this band.
Thanks to Prog Metal Zone which has lead me to some excellent bands that I otherwise would have never known about, also thanks to Stage Of Reality for following me so I could find out more about them, and Loudwire for their great coverage of all that is Hard Rock and Metal.
Well, that is it for now. For all you Metal bands out there if you haven't so far - Start conceptualizing! Oh and keep On Rockin'. Thank you for reading.