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Best metal concept albums

In no particular order. Just one album per band. The list will lack many Fantasy themed concepts since I've never been a fan of them
1Fear Factory

Almost every FF album is connected chronologically in a great lore. Taking inspiration from Blade Runner Obsolete is the third chapter about machines taking over humans, the main character is Edgecrusher, an Android provided with self awareness fighting against Securitron, a security system designed by humans taking over them in a 1984-like totalitarian regime where privacy is denied and confined. Edgecrusher has to choose his path between humans and machines. Industrial masterpiece.
2Dog Fashion Disco

A descent into madness of a schizophrenic serial killer with God complex through 13 songs of pure madness.
The inclusion of almost any genre around fits perfectly Schizophrenia concept, the lyrics are perfectly balanced between humor and creepiness.
3Iron Maiden
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

Loosely based on Card's novel this album is a concept about dichotomy between good and evil by the use of various esoteric symbolisms and intense moments (evil that men do above all)
Veronika Decides to Die

Oddly enough this has not much in common with the namesake novel. Coelho's book deliver a message of hope, Saturnus delivers disillusion. Veronika is a concept about loneliness, depression and loss of faith. Maybe one of the bleakest albums ever.
5Nine Inch Nails
The Downward Spiral

As the name suggests, this lp represents a downward spiral throughout self destruction by addictions.
The Crimson Idol

A monumental rock opera about the rise and fall of a Rockstar named Jonathan which explores themes such as drug addiction, acceptance, commodification and depression.
Dead Winter Dead

Maybe not their best album ever, sure their most touching. The album takes time in winter during Bosnian war and it's all set in a square by a Gargoyle's point of view, trying to comprehend human's emotions. The protagonists are a young Muslim girl and a Serbian boy. The two are in love but as she sees he's a soldier the two are divided by her fear of him after witnessing what the army was capable of. Not what you see may be one of the best ballads ever
8Bruce Dickinson
The Chemical Wedding

A sort of dedication to William Blake's gloomy art
9King Diamond

A dark horror ghost story about a pregnant woman killed by her husband and a mansion haunted by her unborn daughter
The Ride Majestic

A pretty unique songwriting, there are no main characters or a linear storytelling, the album depicts the apocalypse as something majestic and how people reacts to grief. During the recordings many band members were through some losses so the main concept revolves around reactions towards loss of the loved ones depicting something both tragic and hopeful.
11In flames

A journey through past, present and future of mankind. I love how this album is set between Jester race which was pretty primordial and colony, clearly futuristic.
Winter's Gate

One of the most epic Viking themed albums ever
13Edge of Sanity

A sublime 40 minute song which reminds me of a dark fantasy version of children of men.
Set in a infertile world, a queen dies during childbirth and a new king sets a reign of terror around the world. The newborn is led to defeat him but soon she is revealed to be a tyrannical queen and a sadistic conquerer so a group of rebels neutralize her power by blinding her and place her in a tank of Crimson fluid where the other elders she slayed were kept in
Dreaming Neon Black

An autobiographical concept about Dane's ex girlfriend disappearance after she joined a cult. She has been murdered by serial killer Robert Rhoades. The album depicts a nihilistic view of human beings, depression and suicidal issues.
Terminal Redux

A sci-fi story about an astronaut discovering immortality in the outer space and using his knowledge to achieve political power but experiencing an existence crisis realizing that death is the meaning of life itself

A gritty and raw depiction of war in Vietnam

A sort of Lovecraftian story about the secrets of world, set in a post nuclear earth lurked by a deadly creature named soundchaser.
Dimension Hatröss

Dimension hatross is a portal through a microcosmic universe where Voivod's mascot trips to discover visions of an alienated world, the album contains lots of satirical elements that criticize today's society.
19Pain of Salvation

Any single concept this band makes is gold but Be takes the cake. The album is both Musically and lyrically the evolution (or involution) of man from creation to prehistoric age, to modern age to future. The main character is Mr. Money, a selfish businessman that represents capitalism working on his empire with the only goal of being hibernated and ruling over the future society but when he wakes up the world has been destroyed by pollution, war and overpopulation, so instead of killing himself he decides to choose his "item impius" and ruling over the ruins. The album explores topics such as relation with God, creation, technology, ego, shallowness and ambientalism.
20Dream Theater
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory

A contorted story of a man discovering his past life ego was a woman killed for love through an hypnotherapy and investigating about her death. I won't spoil the ending, check this album. A true cinematic songwriting, awesome reference to Nuovo cinema paradiso.
Still Life

A story about a man returning to his village in order to take away his beloved by a Christian cult. A gloomy concept about antichristianity and lost love.
Operation: Mindcrime

One of the most important concepts in metal, still relevant today. The story is about an addict named Nikki, he's a puppet of a dictator named Dr. X who manipulates him for committing homicides. Nikki falls in love with a prostitute turned nun by the government, she awakes him from his state of manipulated addict and as Dr X discover it he orders Nikki to kill her. The final acts are Nikki'memories regarding what he has done. The album is clearly a critic towards totalitarism and dictatorship.
23Devin Townsend
Ziltoid the Omniscient

A sci-fi comedy about an alien that searches the best coffee in the universe. The ending is a giant WTF
24Between the Buried and Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence

An Astral journey in a futuristic universe, perfectly overwhelming. The story is about prospect 1 and 2, the first is a cast away discovering new players, the second works for the government and plants new souls on dying planets. The story is a huge reflection about human life and nature.
Silent Waters

Fable atmosphere in this folk prog album depicting English adaptations of Pekka Kainulainen's poems

Stay away from this if you have abandon issues. The point of view of a neglected autistic girl closed in her own world, abused and abandoned by her parents. One of the most depressing albums I've heard.
27Porcupine Tree
Fear of a Blank Planet

About numbness of new generation
28Fates Warning
A Pleasant Shade of Gray

Reflection of a man's life during his sleep
Crack the Skye

An one iris journey of a paraplegic that travels out of his body through a burning umbilical cord attached to a solar plexus. Sacked into a wormhole he find himself into Rasputin's body and tries to return inside of his own flesh. The title is an homage to Dailor's dead sister who committed suicide at age 14.
Temple of Shadows

A power metal concept about crusader named shadow hunter that starts a new religion.
The Human Equation

A man confronts his past after falling into a coma in order to get a psychological rebirth. Every song represents both a day in the slumber and one step through his attempt of becoming a better man. His emotions are portrayed by stellar guest stars such as Akerfeldt (fear), Townsend (Rage) and Clayton (reason).

Depiction of a day divided in octaves
33Blind Guardian
Nightfall in Middle-Earth

One of the few Fantasy themed power metal albums i like. Basically the silmarillion goes metal.
34Circus Maximus

A concept about, guess what? Isolation.
35Alice Cooper
Welcome To My Nightmare

Not metal but pretty influential to the genre so. A boy's journey through his nightmares.
36Cult of luna
Somewhere Along the Highway

Inspired by Coetzee's Life and times of Michael K, this atmospheric masterpiece depicts loneliness and escape from civilization
Fearless Undead Machines

A must have for Romero lovers, an aggressive thrash album depicting a zombie outbreak.
Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire...

One of Ihsahn's most overlooked works, this symphonic black work sums the myths of prometheus pretty good.
39Ephel Duath
Through My Dog's Eyes

Their worst album. I don't even like it that much but the concept of the world through a dog eyes is so original that I felt like it should be included
In Search Of Truth

Loosely inspired by Communion, ISOT depicts the thoughts of a man abducted by aliens. Conspiracy Theorist's favorite album
Suspended Animation

Not your ordinary concept. Actually there's nothing ordinary about this. The songs titles are just the days in which they were recorded and sounds like a mixture of bad acid trip, cartoon noises and weird dreams
From Mars to Sirius

From Mars to Sirius relates the resurrection of a dead planet through an interplanetary quest, tackling environmental issues such as climate change and impacts on marine life as well as broader themes of life, death, and rebirth . A significant work with Astral vibes and meaningful content.
43Grave Digger
Knights of the Cross

Power metal about crusaders
Eppur Si Muove

A symphonic lp about Galileo Galilei's life, studies and ideals.
Jane Doe

A simple concept elaborated in the hardest way possible. The story is about a break-up but the introspective and poetic lyrics contracted to the chaotic heavy music contributes to a unique sensation. The lyrics in the booklet are different from the ones you can hear, a symbolism of confusion and lack of communication
46Iced Earth
Burnt Offerings

Maybe the darkest power metal album ever. A faithful description of Dantesque ideas of hell.
47The Ocean

The album simulates sinking into the depth of the Oceans throughout every song symbolizing a psychological and physical spiral into the abyss
The Black Halo

A theatrical representation of a modern day Faust

Another theatrical work about love

Blackest humor ever in a Biopic of Jeffrey Dahmer's life, crimes and death. Never I thought to hear cannibalism and oompa loompa in the same context.
51Mekong delta
The Music of Erich Zann

A musical adaptation of Lovecraft's namesake worl
52 Meshuggah
Catch Thirty-Three

That's hard to explain due to it's abstract nature and chaotic meanings. Basically it depicts loss of autonomy in life, realization and spirals into madness through the death of your own ego. Plus the band has always been obsessed with number 33
53The Old Dead Tree
The Nameless Disease

Chronicles about the suicide of the 18 years old former drummer of the band and all the consequences this act brought in other's life. This guy's are truly overlooked
54Orphaned Land
Mabool (The Story of the Three Sons...)

The story of snake, lion and the Eagle which represents the 3 monotheistic religions and their journey to redeem humanity.

Greeks myths of Persefone
56Pig Destroyer
Prowler in the Yard

The last thoughts of a stalker in his car before killing his ex-girlfriend. This is one of the most disturbing albums ever, the lack of typical gore elements of the grind genre makes it even subtler, the unnerving music's combined to the disconnected deranged thoughts of the main character creates an uncomfortable feeling
57Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Of Natural History

Speaking of uncomfortable, this is maybe the weirdest album in metal, and what people fears the most is the unknown. The album depicts the apocalypse in a inconceivable way through the scripts of Ted Kaczynski (unabomber), scientific terms, abstract esoteric stuff and distorted nursery rhymes. Seriously it's hard to explain, go witness yourself
The Galilean Satellites

A disillusioned man floats in space in search of Europa, a galilean moon, in order to being alone. Once he reaches for it he realizes he left behind meaningful things. The second part of the album is composed by space atmosphere sounds.
59Royal hunt

Another album about antichristianity, the lyrics shows many complaints and paradoxes about religion and society
Carolus Rex

The rise and fall of Swedish empire, the title refers to Charles XII
61Seventh Wonder
Mercy Falls

Another coma themed album, not great like Ayreon's but the plot twist is pretty good
Pills Against The Ageless Ills

Pornographer Cain and philosopher Fuck (hope they are not birth names) are brothers. One is found guilty of Cobain's suicide, the other is exiled becoming a sort of monk artist. The whole album is a huge critique to America's institutions and society. Weird but effective
63Symphony X
V: The New Mythology Suite

The myths of Atlantis displayed in one of the most technical album by the band
64Thy Catafalque
Roka Hasa Radio

Relationship between human and earth, the translations are almost impossible to find so it's really hard to fully understand the story
Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler

Rooted in Norwegian folklore the story is about a young maiden walking down a mountain pursued and killed by mythical creatures Lurking inside the woods making her spirit one with the mountain.
66Virgin steele
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Part II

Both albums feature themes of religious myths, this one focuses particularly on Northern Religion.
Yeah! Yeah! Die! Die! Death Metal Symphony in Deep

A unique blending of symphonic death and Avent gardens with a story about a certain John Doe whose life is being controlled by a computer brain. An Angel help him to defeat it but John feels lost so he tries to help the computer.
68Within Temptation
The Unforgiving

Catchy and entertaining, the album was released simultaneously with a namesake comic. The story is about a medium summoning restless spirits, one of them named Sinéad has to face murder and punishment since she has committed sins but still can be redeemed

A man on the brink of emptiness finds a woman who complete him but discovers her incestuous relationship with her brother so he become empty again and trapped in suicidal thoughts. The title refers to how he drowns himself in the ocean
The Mantle

Originally this wasn't supposed to be a concept but during the writing process it was clear that a story was coming on the surface. A man wanders in a dark wood, absorbed in his melancholic thoughts he draw conclusions about human condition and loneliness, all surrounded by bleak nature.

Inspired by Princess Mononoke, this almost instrumental Opera is about relationship between human and nature
72Ice Nine Kills
The Silver Scream

Every song depicts an horror classic, often with part of the original score or quotes included. One of the most entertaining Metalcore albums of the last years
Out of Myself

Depiction of numbness and delusion
74Deathspell Omega

My favorite black metal concept. The whole trilogy is a theological dispute on the essence of the devil from satanist perspective, Satan is pervading every part of material and metaphysical realms and how man is devoted to him. It's partially inspired by philosopher George's Battelle.
Colored Sands

Such an heavy album for such a beautiful message. Colored sands refers to Mandala, the first half of the album describes the purity of Tibetan's lifestyle and their relationship with environment and ego. The second part is how about China invaded Tibet and corrupted their lifestyle. The last song is about questioning non violence, reflecting on how sad it is that they are now remembered as a submitted culture
The Mountain

The journey up the mountain is a metaphor of life cycle.
The Divine Conspiracy

Various thoughts about religion and science
Secret of the Runes

Norwegian mythology
79Marilyn Manson
Antichrist Superstar

Inspired by Nietzsche concept of ubermensch, the story revolves around the evolution of a man from Worm into antichrist avenging his neglection and submission through the years but ending up as what he hated most.
Alive Again

The conclusion of the breathing shadow saga, a ghost story about friendship and regret
Season In Silence

A Christmas themed death metal about winter
82The Axis of Perdition
Deleted Scenes From Transition Hospital

An industrial combination of silent hill and Lovecraft horror, the band itself refused to show lyrics. The album atmosphere is dirty and rusty, feels like a nightmare coming to reality
83maudlin of the Well

An absurd Masterwork about Astral projection depicted with abstract themes balancing between dreams and nightmare vibes
84Paysage d'Hiver

It represents a souljourney where time and space doesn't exist. Even though there is no other way possible than being a child of it's time, if it is to be put out into this world where time and space do exist. Which obviously is what happened, is happening and will happen.
85Today Is the Day
Sadness Will Prevail

A long depressive concept about a sentenced thief, once he get out of prison he will be rejected by society and die alone
86Sabbat (UK)

A folkloric ticket Thrash tale about a Christian priest sent to convert Pagans in England
87Saviour Machine
Legend Part I

As a Christian band Saviour machine decided to write the Legend trilogy, 3 albums regarding biblical and religious themes
88Hail Spirit Noir
Eden In Reverse

A Psychedelic black metal album that offers a Darwinist view of eden's creation
The Nothing

The best Korn album since issues displays more mature songwriting by Jon Davis regarding the death of his ex-wife analyzing subjects such as his depression, failure, guilt, healing process and dealing with loss of a loved one
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