Best Progressive Rock Bands


The Top TenXW

1Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd... Pink Floyd.. Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd! Pink Floyd! Pink Floyd! One of these bands in wich you see all the members of the group, that make they job really good. Very underrated band, for me they should stay at the same place were everyone put Led Zeppelin, cause this band really deserves it. All knew the "Another Brick in the Wall", "Comfortably Numb" or "Wish You Were Here" but not only on this songs Pink Floyd ends. They made so many excellent albums like: Meddle, Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Division Bell- all of them have something unusual something special. Without this special thing, I feel my world would be more empty then it's now. Long live the Pink Floyd!

Along side Jethro Tull they started back in 1967. Before David Gilmour joined in 1968 the band consisted of members Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Roger Waters and Syd Barret. They where involved in the psychedelic, underground druggy scene and had singles such as Arnold Lane and See Emily play. Other bands either played on the same stage as them or where around the same time such as jimi hendrix, The Move, Roy Harper ( who sang on have a cigar). Syd had a LSD drug problem and was replaced with gilmour in 1968. I thought gilmour introduced prog to the band with such master pieces as Dark side of the moon, echoes, Shine on you crazy diamond, Animals, the Wall and the unreleased film soundtrack called Zabriskie Point. Putting two great writers together like Gilmour and Waters together in 1968 is like putting McCartney and Lennon together you know your going to get great music. In 1983 the band returned to the studio to record the final cut, an album that was sung about the Falklands War. ...more

So glad that Pink Floyd is number one on this list. They are the pioneers of progressive rock and have made the best prog albums ever. Dark side of the moon, the wall, animals, and wish you were here are master pieces. On a side note glad to see Rush at number 2. It was a hard decision to pick between these two prog gods - dchamblin42

Most other bands influenced by this myth band!

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Dude! 20 studio albums, started in 1968 and never broke up! They have the greatest rock bassist, greatest rock drummer, and one hell of a guitarist! I know some people are not big fans of their lyrics, and they weren't as commercially successful, but give them a chance. They have some powerful albums, especially albums such as Counterparts, Test For Echo, Grace Under Pressure, Fly By Night, and so on. For 40 years they have been a band, and took a 6 year hiatus but have never called it quits. They always find ways to try new musical styles and make their next album better than the last. Listen to Geddy Lee's bass solos and Neil Peart drum! They are wicked awesome! And don't forget Alex Lifeson's solos. Powerful stuff in all of their albums. They deserve the #1 slot! They are not only the best prog rock band, but in my opinion the best band ever!

Here we are over 40 years later and Clockwork Angels, the album and the book just blows the mind. They are probably more influential now than ever and seem to just get better. Some people have had a hard time with Geddy's voice from the earlier days but it was always pure and certainly always progressive as their entire approach to the music they have produced. Glad that they finally were given the credit due to them in 2013 with the rock hall induction, a successful tour and an album of great new material. Keep bringing it Rush, we can't wait to see what is coming next!

A modern day warrior mean mean stride todays tom sawyer mean mean pride. Come on! That's poetry! And the music is beautiful! Rush has the greatest drummer, bassist, and a heck of a guitarist. They're great to their fans and have no off stage drama at all. And the lyrics speak to you. They get you thinking. And the music, gee whiz, where do I start? Anyway, I believe that Rush isn't only the greatest prog rock band of all time, but they're one of the greatest bands in general.

Rush is THE best rock progressive band ever

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The Band released their first album back 1969. It was called as From Genesis to Revelation. And I thought it was repetitive and dull. Around this time the band focused more on music related to religion. They started prog a year after 1969 joining Fripps unique sound. The Band members are Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Tony Banks. Peter Gabriel helped provide strange lyrics and outfits with masterpieces such as Selling England by the pound, foxtrot and Nursery Cryme. He left the band in 1975 after being offered a role in a film and his wife was pregnant. Though Gabriel left, Collins agreed to sing vocals. They released albums such as Trick of the tail and Wind And Wuthering with songs like Earl Of Grey and Dance on a volcano, which both had reprises. He invented guitar tapping but some people say Van Halen did. Hackett left the band after the Wind and Wuthering sessions. The band continued to perform without him. I felt like Collins got too involved ...more

Rush and Dream Theater?! Goddammit guys, look to your roots. The bands that defined prog and brought NEW ideas to the table, instead of mining what the '70's bands have done. Rush is just combining the whimsy of Genesis with harder stylings of Yes, while Dream Theater is just a "harder" version of mid-70's King Crimson, without the improvising ability but with "shredding". All hope for Prog Rock is lost if this is really popular opinion. Genesis is my favorite because of the consistency of albums from Nursery Cryme to Winds and Wuthering, the best stretch of albums in Prog history. But it could have as easily been King Crimson.

Trespass to Seconds Out is an amazing run of albums. Peter Gabriel is in my opinion one of the greatest singers in the history of rock. And Phil Collins' drum playing on those albums... Certainly the best prog rock drummer after Mr. Bill Bruford. He is just a beast and isn't just hitting the drums. He plays clean runs in some of the hardest time signatures. Genesis like other prog rock bands has extremely talented musicians. Pink Floyd is overrated as hell. The most talented members in that band were David Gilmour and Richard Wright (RIP). They made good music but it wasn't exactly what I would call prog. They were art rock, and had some prog songs (Animals), but were more psychedelic and experimental. Rush became hard rock when they made Moving Pictures. I'd say the top 3 would be Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson. But this is all my opinion.

Supper's Ready alone should put them at number one.

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3 compositions (Close to the Edge, The Gates of Delirium and Awaken) are the best prog rock suits ever composed. They are perfect and cannot be even compared to each other (each of the 3 is a different one). The other songs are also remarkable. The 80s did not affect the band so much as the other prog bands since 90125 is a very good album. The later works showed the return of the old quality (especially in the Key to Ascension) - Mind Drive, That That is, Homeworld, Dreamtime and Fly from Here (and even Endless Dream) are still very good pieces of music.

Even though I entered the world of Prog through means of other bands such as Dream Theater (which is still to date my favorite band of all time), as far as strict prog rock goes, it was not until I finally encountered Yes, that I came to find love with prog rock's purest soul. The classic one. The one that really inspires great things just by listening to it.

What? Yes should be at number one, all of the above are good but not as god as yes! They are the best! They are so creative and it is an out rage that they are number 7, more creative than any of these fantastic bands, they are good but yes edges them slightly

Close to the edge

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5King Crimson

If you're a big of prog fan then you must agree with me that they are indeed number 1. I always thought that back in 1969, in the court of the of the crimson king started prog. There are different reasons why they are number 1 such as: the greatest prog album of all time In The Court Of the Crimson King. Some of the best prog songs their ever was such as: 21st csm, larks tongues in aspic I-IV, Discipline, fractured etc. They have a very different sound that introduced: melotron ( basically a orchestral kind of thing in a box) Violins, Organs, horns, bells, saxophones. I all ways thought if it wasn't for the beatles we wouldn't have sgt pepper and if we didn't have sgt pepper we wouldn't have king crimson and the genius that is Sir Robert Fripp ( who was the only member not leave the band), sitting there in the corner like a mad scientist guitarist. And that's what introduced prog and is the best prog had on offer in my own opinion.

Pink Floyd is my favorite band and has been for years, but no band has done as much for progressive rock as King Crimson. Fripp is a genius and this band should have the recognition they deserve.

And Dream Theater, really guys? Also Porcupine Tree over Yes, ELP, and King Crimson? Hahaha and Grateful Dead even on the list? Oh wow, my sides.

Oh no Jethro Tull or Gentle Giant? I am so disappointed.

Come on they've got to be higher than this. Pink Floyd is obviously number one but this should be at number 2! I love them because of all the variety in their music. I mean listen to different parts of their career! You can hardly tell they're the same band! Their first period of music in my opinion was from 1969-70 with their first three albums. ITCOTCK is very complex and innovative. Remember this was 1969, progressive rock was hardly in its infancy yet. Lizard is a very weird album with strange lyrics. In 1971 they released Islands. I love the jazz-rock style they went for here! The title track is beautiful. From 1973-74 they started to make heavier and more experimental music. In 1981-84 they made more new wave and a little bit of pop music. From 1995-2003 they got WAY heavier than ever and made tons of industial rock and some songs could even be considered progressive metal. Now that they've reformed again who knows what direction they will take!

I was recently introduced to Prog and "In the Court of the Crimson King" was the first song I heard. Also, I'm writing a paper on Prog Pioneers and King Crimson caught me as well. Genesis and Pink Floyd are other bands I enjoy.

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6Dream Theater

Dream Theater introduced me into the world of progressive metal/rock and I will be thankful forever for that. I would like to say that Dream Theater is one of the best bands in the progressive music scene, incluiding complex song structures and beauty flowing between every arrangement. For instance, the song A change of seasons introduces you completely into DT's world and it really seems as if it was shifting seasons. And the wonderful Octavarium... If I had to choose one song to listen to for the rest of my life, I would choose this masterpiece. So please, don't be scared because of its 24 minute long duration, and don't give up if the first time you don't like it! And if you don't like it after several listens, just check up the lyrics... They are so moving!

The first time I listened to Octavarium, I was completely blown away. How could five guys produce music instrumentally of such a high standard... All virtuosos on their instruments. I then went on and listened to the rest of their catalogue of albums and soon realised this band were very special in prog circles. I just love their ability to play long complex numbers with huge instrumental sections... Which I think epitomises PROG ROCK

I started listening to dream theater when I was in high school... My music life change! I like dream theater, no! I really really really like their music... I always listen to all their song... I collected all albums... So I want to be number 1!

Best of all time

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7Porcupine Tree

Most of these bands are OLD. Worn out groups from the 70's that people have been sucking on for a long time with nothing new. Porcupine Tree, on the other hand, has been around for quite some time and just keeps getting better and better. Don't trash 'em until you listen to them. They get in your head and then you just can't stop listening to them.

Steven Wilson is a genius. If you want something new in the vein of Floyd that'll rock your socks, give these guys a try. You won't be disappointed.

I couldn't agree more. Been listening to these guys since about 2005 and just can't stop. Once I started they very quickly moved up my personal chart until I could no longer say there was another band I liked more than them. There are bands I like just as much (Pink Floyd) or almost as much (Marillion) but if you start with the "In Absentia" album and go forward from there you'll be hooked. Then, go backward from In Absentia and really enjoy yourself with Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, Signify, etc.

I dare you to find a tune you don't like.

Porcupine Tree should be at AT LEAST THE TOP FIVE. Their songs have been great, and they are STILL running great. Yes, they might have been a little psychedelic rock before, but now they've shifted and I think there are a hell lot of people who would agree Porcupine Tree should be at the top. LIVE UP TO THEIR NAMES. THEY SHOULD BE AT THE TOP BRANCHES OF THE TREE, DAMMIT!

Steven. Wilson is a musical genius.

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8Emerson Lake And Palmer

I've always thought that ELP was in a class by themselves. Their album Brain Salad Surgery is almost a concept album.

Emerson lake and palmer are just the most beautiful sounding band EVER! I find that they have the warmest sound and it is so surprising how much sound they can make with only three people! The best would be to listen to ELP on a record player with surround sound. They are just exceptional especially in their live acts! Go Check Them out!

ELP may not be the best progressive rock band, but they're definitely better than Porcupine Tree, and Dream Theater. Simply listen to Tarkus, or Pictures at an Exhibition, or most of all Karn Evil 9. This is THE progressive rock band, their music screams prog rock, and they embrace it.

No band can come anywhere near their musicianship or Greg Lake vocals!

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9Jethro Tull

They Started off as a folk band 1967 and the singer/ piper Ian Anderson has been with them ever since. The band started progish on the second album and have carried on this style ever since. It was 1967 Anderson started playing the flute and quickly taught himself how to play. In 1970 the band had reached success with aqualung, a concept album about a tramp. Ian Anderson said that the album was never intended to be a concept album and still says it isn't till this day. Glenn Cornick left the band after the aqualung sessions to go on and do other things, he would eventually become a member of Bob Welsh's Paris band. After hearing people say that aqualung was a concept album Anderson decided to make one. Thick as a Brick was released in 1971 and is one of the best concept albums to listen. Both sides of the albums where one song each, split into several sections. Most Progressive rock bands do this anyway such as Emerson, lake and palmer's Tarkus, pink floyd's Atom Heart Mother and Yes's Relayer. Thick as a Brick told a story about a fictional boy called Gerald Bostock. The album cover opens as a newspaper. That's the thing about progressive rock the albums cover artwork is a delight to look at besides listening to the songs. Tull's other albums are: A Passion Play a strange album with stories that include a hare who lost his spectacles warc child: would you like another cup of tea dear? Minsrel in the gallery album describes has something to do with anderson's divorce fro his ex wife jenie. Jenie wrote the song aqualung. A very creative Band.

Simply the best progressive rock band from my perspective. The Masters of diversity! They visit so many different genres and are able to pull it off, in a spectacular way. The musicianship of all the band-members are simply mind-blowing at times, since they all are quite familiar with two or three instruments beside their main instrument. That's way I've "named" them the Masters of Diversity!

I do like King Crimson and Yes quite a bit, I do like Rush and Pink Floyd but I think they are overrated, but I love Jethro Tull because they do one thing well that that most other progressive rock bands only act like it's an afterthought, make their music fun. Thick as a Brick and Aqualung are both awesome albums.

Excellent excellent excellent band that brought prog some mainstream success

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Like many of the bands on this list, Tool is known for having a sound that is extremely build-upon. Tool has quite a lot of layers in each one of their 55 or so songs, and the listener really begins to hear each one the more they discover the longer, harder to digest songs in Tool's four-album discography. This discography also includes one extended play and one compilation album, and with only four band members, Adam Jones, Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor, and Maynard James Keenan, this alternative metal band has been able to replicate and change a certain sound that they have been able to retain for nearly twenty-five years.

Their first full-length album titled Undertow explores themes that are not later shown in other albums. Ideas of disaster, abuse, hatred in one's mind, and even deeper elements of disaster in certain tracks, such as the fifteen-minute "Disgustipated." One song that explores these themes very well is the 10th song on the album titled "Flood." A nearly five-minute intro prepares the listener with an atmosphere of impending doom. When Keenan's vocals kick in, one can already see the devastation that overtook the situation that the singer places himself in. Keenan's lyrics suggest looking for higher ground to avoid the lurking flash flood behind him. When he finds that he did not find the higher ground that he believed to be, he mutters, "I was wrong/This changes everything." Despite very little instrumental accompaniment, this part manages to be one of the best transitions on the entire album.

The band's second album, titled ├ćnima, is praised for showing Tool's turn away from the raw sound that Undertow supplied. This album is also notable for it's heavy use of transitional tracks, giving the listener a one to two minute foreword to the upcoming song. Some of these songs are later revealed to be pranks on the listener, such as, "Useful Idiot," and "Die Eier von Satan," while others are simply meant to supply an atmosphere for the listener, such as "(-) Ions." ├ćnima gives the listener themes of abandonment, out-of-body experiences, and early themes of transcendence. The song "Pushit" puts the listener in an uncomfortable state of being pushed to the breaking point. Keenan retells his experiences of being pushed around by the people he loves in his younger years. Even the people in his own house push him to the point of running away and never coming back.

Tool's seminal LP, the one that broke past the barriers of being an underground band is their third studio album Lateralus. This album continues on the previous theme of elevation to an higher form as a person, both spiritually and literally. The midsection of the album explores the everyday troubling events in life that, when built up to a maximum point, create a emotional breakdown of the receiver of these events. The real outlier of this album is definitely the eleven-minute song more - BurstingFlares

They truly do have one of the strongest lineups of all time. Rush is as strong as well. And Dream Theater. That's just speaking in terms of raw talent. Then you have people like Pink Floyd who are insanely artistic. Tool is amazing with this as well. Best altogether band for a long, long time.

Tool is one of the most original bands I've ever heard, I must confess I only started listening to them about a year 1/2 ago, but ever since that happened, I've become fairly addicted to them, and the song "schism" is definitely the main reason they got my attention, never in my life have I listened to a song and couldn't think about anything else for a month, and back then I didn't know about all the other great ones like "vicarious", "sober", "Lateralus", etc... yeah tool deserves to be on the top 10 greatest progressive rock bands ever, no doubt about that.

The best rock band of all time.

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The Contenders

11Gentle Giant

Caught them live in 1970 playing to a sparse crowd, not ready for what we were about to hear! Unlike any band heard before. Totally enthralled with their multi-instrument skill and complexity of the music. Some of the songs take a second, third or forth listening but once you " acquire the taste" you're hooked. "Playing The Fool" may be the best live prog album.

When you really think about it, any real prog rock rock fan cannot deny the incredible musical dexterity of the Giant. Overlaying rhythms and vocals with the most complex compositions of any of the prog groups ever in existence. I am a big fan of the obvious proggers such as Yes, Tull, Crimso, UK and ELP, however GG is unmatched in many ways and each album offers a new height that the band reached at the time of release. While each album from 1970 through 76 were at one time my favorite, nearly 4 decades later my vote goes to Octopus for being the quintessential Giant offering. Check them out if you haven't yet indulged and acquire the taste! Eric Haubner

Missed a chance to see them in the 70's when I didn't know who they were - regretted it ever since - AndyBasic


I Love Kansas. Not quite like any other Prog band. They have a violin and a more orchestral sound than most prog bands. They aren't early enough to be a Prog pioneer, so they just sort of took the concept in a different direction. Sort of like Pink Floyd but in a different direction. They are certainly the first good American Prog group and somehow that is perceived as bad by some. I won't lie and say the Kansas kept making the best music ever into the 80s and 90s, although some of their later stuff is fine. I just like Kansas in the 70s more than any other band at any other point. Choosing a longer standing band with a less impressive peak is like picking a sour candy over a chocolate. Who does that?

And I don't think they get enough credit for their hot period because A. they started in nowhere America.B. They started in the mid 70s as opposed to late 60s. And they had cooled off a few years after people had finally caught on to how great they were. Listen to their first 3 Albums. They are just as good as the next 2, which are the only ones people know from them. Because they hadn't caught on yet.

Kansas is one of the few bands that I have purchased every things the original six members have put out, together and individually. There is just something about them that I can't get enough of them. While I agree that all the bands in this list have a place in the top ten, I think Kansas is in the top 5.

This band is absolutely brilliant, lyrically, and instrumentally. Miracles out of nowhere has lyrics that capture your soul, and the captivating solo is so good.

Kansas should be up there with Rush

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What the hell did I just saw near the end : System Of A Down?! Seriously?! It's said progressive rock! Anyway, I'm a huge fan of Dream Theater, but it's more metal than rock, and I don't have to vote for Pink Floyd, they're already first. Marillion is too underrated and a really awesome band, the Misplaced Childhood album is just a rock prog monument. Nothing else to say, just listen to it, you'll see.

Glad to see after so many years of complete obscurity especially in the US that Marillion are finally starting to get some consideration and respect. It's deserved, and although they've only had one truly classic album in the last 15 years (Marbles), they still have occasionally great songs on their albums, and the original 8 to 10 albums will always rank them in my top 5.

Such a varied band - they don't really belong in a single category. Every album has its own style, and these guys are so creative and astoundingly brilliant I can't put it into words. Musical masters.

Should be in top 5 without any doubt.

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14Barclay James Harvest

This highly under-rated band deserve to be up there. Still making new music and touring, their hey-day was the 1970s - great mellatron influenced prog rock albums such as "Once Again", "Time-Honoured Ghosts", "Octoberon", "Gone to Earth" (3rd most successful album of all time in Germany, 1st being Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here") and "Everyone is Everybody Else". A Lancashire band but immensely successful all over Europe - played a free concert to a live audience of 250,000 people in West Berlin and were the first UK rock band to be invited to perform (to 175,000 people) in East Berlin. Currently touring in Japan.

I find it incomprehensible that it has been necessary for me to add BJH to the bottom of a long list of lesser-known bands. Still going (in 2 different guises) after 45 years, they were in the forefront of the prog rock trail blazers of the late 60s and 70s. They achieved prenomenal success all over Europe (if not the UK) and played a free concert to 250,000 people in West Berlin. They were also the first western rock band to be invited to perform in pre-Glasnost East Berlin - to an audience of 175,000 people. Their album, "Gone to Earth" is officially the third most popular album since records began in Europe's biggest music market - Germany (Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" being number one). Their classic albums, particularly those made in the 60s and 70s are sublime.

Fully deserve a high placing in this list. Saw them live in their 'John Lees Barclay James Harvest' guise (the other 'splinter band' being 'Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd') as recently as December 2013, following the release of their excellent new album, "North", and they were even more impressive than I expected. Also, imagine my surprise when I switched on my television on Christmas Day, whilst on holiday in Germany, to find that they were putting on a special Christmas Day concert for the channel in question - all this 47 years after they were formed! A much bigger British band than people realise!

Discovered them when Time Honoured Ghosts came out in the mid - seventies and still love them today. Looking forward to October in wolverhampton for John Lees' Barclay James Harvest and the new album!

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Well there are other very good prog artists: Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, Yes, VDGG... But Camel is the most emotive prog band. Apart having good musicians (Peter Bardens, Andy Ward and Doug Ferguson at the beginning then Richard Sinclair, Mel Collins, Kit Watkins, Colin Bass, Ton Scheerpenzel... ), the leader, guitarist and composer Andy Latimer is one the best musician ever: everything is in his guitar playing emotion (Lady Fantasy, Ice, Never Let Go), power (Rhyader goes to Town, Lunar Sea) and virtuosity (Candle Hour, Rajaz, Air Born). This could definite the whole band!

What can I say. Like The Beatles use to do, Camel capitalized on. In most of their songs, you get Rock, Classical, Orchestra, and other aspects of music all in one song. Loved how they could do a 9 min song and make it seem like only a few minutes. You hear the effort, and great care of the band in all their music. They used a lot of instruments and the small details really stand out. Not overdone either. The Vocals few though they are, do give a haunting feeling that goes with the music.

Camel's music is melodic and beautiful. Although they use 5/4, 7/4 and other time signatures the music is never complex just for its own sake. Quite a few talented musicians have been part of the band over the years, including Peter Bardens who did much to establish the distinctive Camel sound and Andy Ward, the wonderful drummer on all their 1970s material. But its the peerless Andrew Latimer, a wonderfully emotional guitar player and flautist and talented composer, who is the heart and soul of this fantastic band.

Just getting into them and I love them so far! - SammySpore

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This isn't even prog rock. It's alternative/experimental/electronic rock.

Every song is different and is about completely different topics. They're not all about drugs, alcohol, sex, or girls. Just meaningful stuff.

One of the greatest band except that they are not a Prog Rock band.. - splash-silence

I don't now well radiohead its progresive rock band


OPETH ARE GENIUSES NOT ONLY IN PROGRESSIVE METAL but also have the sweetest progressive rock ballads like Harvest, Burden, In My Time Of Need, Benighted and more and more...

Opeth, deserves to be in top 5. Masters of modern progressive rock/metal. Probably one of the most versatile bands of all time. A very unique sound, Jazzy metal drumming, Creative heavy riffs along with acoustics and kickass bass player, Mikael Akerfeldt. GENIUS PURE GENIUS!

Highly underrated. I find them to be the most interesting, complex and original band of the last few decades. I especially appreciate them for not being preoccupied just with sounding "so metull hurr durr" (not that the other bands necessarily are, but some fans would want them to :D ); fascinating harmonies, always surprising, delicious, original and fresh on every level. Not swamped in cliches; a Music that is both intelligent and atmospheric

They're so awesome and underrated! They have amazing albums like: Still Life, Heritage, Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries, etc. - IronSabbathPriest

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18Van der Graaf Generator

The most creative and inventive band ever, thanks to Hammill's talent and his brilliant mates. Maybe underrated due to its complex compositions.

"Man-Erg" Need I say more.

A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers upon your list for not hearing VDGG as the ultimate Prog rock band!

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19Roxy Music

They started the "Art Rock" progressive movement. - JervisTetch

They're one of my favourite bands. However, there is no earthly way they can be considered progressive rock. - PetSounds


The best prog rock metal has had to offer. Ex-aequo with Opeth. Musicians made of what the Rush' guys are made.

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