The Greatest Metal Concept Album Ever Tournament: Part 1

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It’s March Madness, and we here at ToH have bracket fever. However, most of us metalheads are far more familiar with 20-sided dice than barbells, so rather than going ape over B-ball, we’re throwing down on some mental mathletics. We’ve scoured the hallowed halls of Valhalla to find the best and brightest concept albums in all of metaldom, but we can’t decide this alone. We need you to choose the greatest metal concept album ever. Today, the first half of the 32-competitor bracket squares off. Who will be left standing?

As you have with other brackets here at Toilet ov Hell, your job is relatively simple. Just jam some tunes, cast your vote, and get ANGERY in the comments. However, I’m going to throw an additional wrinkle at you. Rather than just choosing the album you like the most, try to pick the album whose concept best fits the music. It’s easy enough to make fun of a poor album and concept; just ask The Astonishing. It’s much harder to perfectly craft an entire record that perfectly marries a deeper theme with killer riffs. Be judicious as you cast your stones below.

The full bracket (stab to embiggen)


Mastodon’s Leviathan vs. Nevermore’s Dreaming Neon Black

Moby Dick vs. Depression after Your Lady Friend Joins a Cult

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which Concept is Better?

Eye of Solitude’s Canto III vs. Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory

Dante’s Inferno vs. Reincarnation

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?

Protest the Hero’s Kezia vs. Blut Aus Nord’s The Work Which Transforms God

A Death Sentence vs. Metaphysical Ponderings

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?

King Diamond’s Abigail vs. Gojira’s From Mars to Sirius

Spooky Ghosts vs. Flying Whales

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?

Angra’s Temple of Shadows vs. Therion’s Secret of the Runes

Crusader’s Midlife Crisis vs. Odinism

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?

Manowar’s Gods of War vs. Cult of Luna’s Vertikal

Gratuitous Odinism vs. Self-Alienation in Metropolis

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?

The Sword’s Warp Riders vs. Nocturnus’s The Key

Sci-Fi Archery vs. Sci-Fi Occultism

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 00:00:00
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?

Fear Factory’s Demanufacture vs. The Ocean’s Pelagial

Robot Apocalypse vs. Oceanic Psychosis

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 20-03-2017 09:00:00
end_date 25-03-2017 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Which concept is better?
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  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    I want the King to win this contest

    • Joaquin Stick

      The King of all drummers, Mike Portnoy? /s

    • Howard Dean

      I can get behind this, since Abigail is fucking awesome. However, the other side of the bracket has some ringers, too. Crimson, Blood on Ice, and Nattens Madrigal? Fuuuuuuuuuck this is going to be tough.

      • Rain Poncho W.

        Tried to gather a wide range of styles and dates for this one.

        • Howard Dean

          I think it’s a pretty strong list overall. Of course, everyone is going to have the album or two they would’ve had in the bracket (for me it would’ve been Sacriphyx – The Western Front and DsO – Paracletus), but I think it’s solid.

    • President Chester A. Arthur

      Abigail is the perfect concept album. It should be at least in the final two.

      • Howard Dean

        I think it should take this left side of the bracket, though I’m anticipating a tough match up with Leviathan in the Elite Eight (I know a lot of Toilet peeps really love Mastodon and that album in particular). And I’m guessing the winner of that matchup will face Pelagial in the Final Four.

    • Doom Scientist

      GRANDMAAAAAAAAA!!!

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      I bring good but off topic news for you: Fates Warning is doing a US tour and it’s going all over the Northeast. There’s a Poughkeepsie date I’m excited for.

      • Elegant Gazing Globe

        I’m not the kind of globe to spend money to see Ray’s weak, uninspired performances, John Arch on the other hand is the key to the vault

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      The King SHOULD win this contest

    • Dental_Damnation

      They basically buried Gojira right from the start putting him up against The King

      • Jeremy Riegel

        RIGHT?!

    • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

      Best team that didn’t make the bracket?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLRYREmJqho

  • Rain Poncho W.

    Fixed the Nocturnus poll, btw.

    • Hans Copronym

      “fixed” as in “rigged”, right? I knew it!

      • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount

        dem Russkies hackers at it again!

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    This is gonna be tough.

  • If you don’t vote for Manowar, my mighty sword will sink deep into your flesh

    • Howard Dean

      BREAKING: Randall promises to sink his flesh sword deep into your body if you disrespect the Manowar.

      • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      • Guacamole Jim

        I feel this is less “breaking” and more “daily news”

        • Kind of how no one really reports on North Korea’s constant stream of consciousness sabre rattling

          • Rain Poncho W.

            And you can trust Randall on this, since he knows a thing or two about sabre rattling. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Not happening. Vertikal is a masterpiece. If it loses to Manowar, I blame Russian hackers.

      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        I have a few on the phone right now, trying to work it out.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        Pags, THANKS for the BC gift brother!! Many thanks!

        • Pagliacci is Kvlt

          You didn’t have to pay it forward, but I appreciate it. Thanks.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Thanks man it was really cool of you!

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      I voted Manowar because I don’t want to be impaled by a sword.

    • Pierre Generic

      Or at least politely ask them to leave the hall.

      • Hey, um, excuse me. Yeah, sorry I really hate to do this, but I need to ask you to leave the hall. There seems to have been some misunderstanding as to why you were allowed entry, but some of the other… patrons… have felt quite uncomfortable by your presence. Sorry, I know it’s inconvenient, but if you could please leave at your earliest convenience, we would deeply appreciate it

        • Doom Scientist

          “You can go right ahead and hang out in the Pantera room over there, thanks…”

  • Freedom Jew

    How is this missing Savatage’s Streets, The Wake of Magellan, and/or Dead Winter Dead?

    • They went for good albums

      • Sid Vicious Promos

        Randall plz! All Savatage is good!

      • Freedom Jew

        I hate you so, so much.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      ANGERY

  • HessianHunter

    Pelagial absolutely nails its intended moods. The closing riff is so obnoxiously, knuckle-draggingly heavy I actually feel like my puny reptile brain is being crushed at the bottom of the sea

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    An original concept with p muc perfectly fitting music Versus A concept based on literature with well fitting riffage? – Nevermore hands down.

    Dream Theater’s good, but disjointed “one song” (glad they’ve stopped trying to refer it as that) reccid versus a plenty good doom record? – Further investigation required.

    Two albums I’ve never really come back to, and can’t comment on how well they fit the concept. Unfortunately requires further investigation.

    Sorry Gojira, but Abigail is p much the perfect marriage of music and story. Nigh unbeatable.

    Ang… Pass.

    Vertikal, one of the best albums ever, that rivals Abigail as far as story + music goes, versus Manowar? I guess, Mano does a p good job of conveying the concept through music – but not even a chance did they stand.

    The Sword’s downfall versus The Key? The third in trinity of holy, nigh untouchable concept records? On top, I don’t think Warp Riders especially much even tries to sound like the concept.

    Again, further consideration required.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      I think we voted pretty similarly. I have no skin in the Angra vs. Therion poll aside from thinking Angra are super lolzy and Therion is only kinda lolzy.

    • Señor Jefe El Rossover

      I R ANGERY

      • Dumpster Lung

        Sorry Boss. Manowar’s just doesn’t sound specifically like it had to be about Norse mythology. Could’ve made it about anything and it’d be good, but the concept just doesn’t feel essential to the riffs.

        • Señor Jefe El Rossover

          ANGERFICATION INTENSIFIES

          ALSO ANGERY DUE TO HIS DISMISSAL OF WARP RIDERS

          • tigeraid

            Double whammy. Luckily I voted for Manowar AND Warp Riders. WE SHALL WIN THIS DAY.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            HAIL WARRIOR

          • Doom Scientist

            I’ll get over it when I see The Sword again in May.

          • Dumpster Lung

            Listening to some of Warp Riders earlier made me really want to catch up on The Sword. Haven’t listened since maybe the 2nd album. I was really digging what I heard today, though.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            1, 2, 3 are perfect, 4 and 5 have a few problems and are stylistically quite different. So be warned! Hahaha

          • Dumpster Lung

            Yeah, I’m excited to dig into these guys so long after the fact and removed a bit from both the hype and anti-hype at the time. Reading old Metal-Archives reviews is pretty ridiculous. So many 0’s with essay-length rants about how there’s absolutely no merit in their music because they’re hipsters. . .I guess?

            At worst, I can’t see myself thinking anything more extreme than “eh, this isn’t really doing anything for me that a bunch of other doom bands aren’t already doing,” but that little bit of Warp Riders I heard has me really intrigued to check ’em out, so I have a feeling I’m gonna dig ’em as much if not more than back when Age of Winters came out.

          • Howard Dean

            Those 0% ratings on MA are almost without exception a product of The Sword being featured on the video game Guitar Hero and becoming the “gateway” band for normies to get into doom/stoner metal stuff. Very similar to what DragonForce did for power/shred. They were seen as a “doom-lite” hipster band that were nothing but sellouts. All of the backlash has nothing to do with the music, to be honest. There was quite a bit of it, since those Guitar Hero games featured a good deal of metal and a bunch of random peeps got interested in Megadeth and DragonForce for roughly six months. Pretty ridiculous, but that’s the true reason behind the angst.

          • Dumpster Lung

            Oh yeah it’s ridiculous. I can kind of get why Dragonforce got such a bad rap, since apparently in the beginning they couldn’t quite play their own material live (at least that’s what I remember hearing), but yeah, I never remembered The Sword’s music (granted it was only the first album) being “not metal enough” or anything.

            The worst thing about metal is definitely metal fans haha

  • President Chester A. Arthur

    Demanufacture is a very solid pairing of concept with riffs, and it was fairly revolutionary sounding at the time. Hoping that it goes far.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      Fear Factory definitely strayed into full-blown nu metal lolz territory, but I still dig Demanufacture.

      • President Chester A. Arthur

        I kind of liked Archetype. Besides that you’re spot on.

  • Guacamole Jim

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Scenes From a Memory is a weak as af Dream Theater album.

  • JWG79

    It looks like I got most of this quiz wrong.

  • Doom Scientist

    Boo, you Warp Rider hating motherfuckersz…

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    42 posers.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I’m sorry, Boss, but Vertikal rules

    • Rain Poncho W.

      lol, those albums aren’t even in the same playing field.

      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!!!

    • Señor Jefe El Rossover

      55 posers.

  • HessianHunter

    My 17 year old self would kick my ass if I ever voted against Protest The Hero, and that guy plays football so he’s stronger than me.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I’m glad I never have to worry about that, since 17 year old me was a scrawny piece of shit that never exercised and just played Starcraft all day

  • tigeraid

    That first vote. You fucking sadist. YOU MADE ME VOTE AGAINST NEVERMORE.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      It was a really tough choice. I actually like Nevermore’s concept better, but musically Leviathan is unfuckwithable

      • tigeraid

        Right!?

  • CyberneticOrganism

    NICE!

  • Jack Rabbit

    I think while leviathan is musically superior, nevermore’s works better as a concept album

    • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount

      Both of these statements are highly debatable

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Now I’m absolutely kicking myself for not submitting Moonsorrow’s Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa. Bad robot, BAD.

    http://www.metal-archives.com/images/2/9/4/4/294425.jpg

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I personally would have loved to see Type O Negative’s Slow Deep And Hard, Cradle Of Filth’s Cruelty And The Beast, Jucifer’s L’Autrichienne, and Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

      • Rain Poncho W.

        Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was actually cut because Bruce says it’s only half a concept album.

        • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

          I imagined that was the reason. It is still the closest Maiden has gotten to a full concept album

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    55 posers.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      *59

      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        Gotdang posers!!

  • Valhalla Selection Committee snubs:

    Atheist – Elements
    Buried Inside – Chronoclast
    Isis – Panopticon
    I prefer Leviathan myself, but Crack The Skye wants to go dancing.
    Sleep – Dopesmoker
    A Bolt Thrower album, perhaps?

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    67 posers.

  • Waynecro

    Man, this is tough–partially because I’m unfamiliar with the concepts of some of the albums. I just did the lazy responsible thing and voted only when I was familiar with both choices.

  • Hans Copronym

    Didn’t know some of these were concept albums. Interesting.

    However, no Back To Times Of Splendor, so this contest is moot. Moot I say!

    *moot mooot*

  • krisdaschwab912

    Gojira should be ahead, but the tough one is The Ocean vs Fear Factory. Both fantastic albums with great execution.

  • Ted Nü-Djent ™

    Can Fear Factory really claim their albums as concepts when every single song in their career basically has the same theme?

    • Rain Poncho W.

      They’re a concept band.

      • Ted Nü-Djent ™

        That works. I’m also a bit disappointed how slaughtered that album is getting in the vote.

  • lagerbottoms

    DAYUM, I love so many of these albums. There’ll be quite a lot of hard decisions.

  • Old Man Doom

    Goddamn, I love Vertikal. The way it executes the metropolis-inspired concept with reoccurring musical themes and cues is brilliant. Even the drums were deliberately recorded in a big, bare concrete room for the industrial effect. That album is pretty much the gold standard for me in terms of medium, message, and story all coalescing perfectly.

  • Shakes 999

    Who gives a shit about this half of the bracket? Vektor will demolish all posers.

    • Howard Dean

      I actually like Terminal Redux, but there are 6 or 7 better albums on that side of the bracket alone.

      • Shakes 999

        Nevar!

  • Rain Poncho W.

    Man, the walloping Dreaming Neon Black is taking makes me sad. I shan’t ever forget you, Nevermore.

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      Tbh, any album is going to take a walloping when pinned against Leviathan. It is loved.

  • NDG

    Let’s just end the madness now and give the award to Operation: Mindcrime.

  • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount

    Mastodon over Nevermore? Ocean over Fear Factory?
    I’m triggered AF

  • Megan Alexandra

    Abigail to go all the way, you can just pay me now

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    My fault for not voting, but was hoping maybe these two could of faced off:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET-eC6oexy0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s08x-kIxFs