There are few music styles more divisive than progressive rock and progressive metal; for the most part, you either love them or hate them (with virtually no room to land somewhere in-between).

You see, dozens of wholly distinctive artists – from Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull and King Crimson to Yes, VDGG and ELP – expanded the variety and popularity of prog rock through the initial half of the 1970s. With their emphasis on complex musicianship, literary songwriting, lengthy compositions and genre-splicing experimentation (involving classical, folk, jazz, etc.), it’s easy to see why.

Although they kept going into the next decade – and beyond – the rise of punk, new wave and other more accessible approaches meant that prog rock lost a lot of its luster as the 1970s concluded.

Enter neo-prog, which arose in the early 1980s thanks to rock acts such as Marillion, IQ, Pallas and Twelfth Night. Around the same time, heavier bands – namely, Fates Warning and Queensrÿche – began fusing heavy metal with those aforementioned other genres and techniques. That said, it was arguably Dream Theater’s 1989 introduction – When Dream and Day Unite – that first fully combined the aggressiveness of Judas Priest, Metallica and Iron Maiden with the flashy trickiness of those 1970s prog rock icons.

From there – and at the risk of making this intro even more verbose – the subsequent 30+ years have seen countless other groups build upon those templates. No matter where they fit along the rock and metal spectrum, heavyweights Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, Riverside, Opeth, Ayreon, Haken, Pain of Salvation and BTBAM – to name a few – have allowed progressive music to remain ingeniously sophisticated and adventurous.

READ MORE: 10 Best New Prog Rock + Metal Bands Since 2010, Chosen By Haken's Ross Jennings

Of course, that inevitable prompts fans to debate which prog artists and albums still reign supreme.

Well, that’s exactly what this list aims to answer, at least to a degree. To keep things simple and organized, we’re looking at the greatest prog rock and/or metal album of each year since 1983. Be they obvious choices or lesser-known (and likely controversial) picks, each one represents the peak of prog at that time.

As always, we’d love to know how you feel about our selections, as well as which albums you’d put in their place.

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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

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