10 Essential 1990s Progressive Rock Music Albums

Keeping the progress moving in the decade of grunge and frosted tips.

Suede Band

As the '90s rolled in, it appeared the age of prog rock was coming to an end.

Far from the mainstream powerhouse it had been in the '70s and '80s, prog now found itself lagging behind everything from grunge to trip hop. With many of its top acts from yesteryear now arguably past their prime, the progressive genre found some slight reinvention in heavy metal, where groups such as Dream Theater and Tool applied progressive ideas to heavier sounds.

In its home of rock, meanwhile, prog entered even more experimental territory than usual, with many indie groups that had grown up on acts such as Genesis and Jethro Tull coming to the forefront. With a whole new decade of fads, trends, styles, and sounds to operate with, this new generation of prog rock got stranger than ever, leaving listeners unsure of just where else the genre could possibly go.

Along the way, some of the scene's founding fathers also made their presence felt, still experimenting and further-complicating rock's most enigmatic offshoot. While it might not have quite seen the commercial heights of the '70s or early '80s, prog rock still had a lot of top quality musical mayhem to sift through and enjoy in the closing years of the 20th century.

10. Porcupine Tree - Signify

The Hertfordshire crew's fourth LP saw them go all in on psychedelia. The result was a colorful, fun effort that managed to serve both as a throwback to the '60s early days of prog and as an exciting new take on the long-running experimental genre.

Released in 1996, 'Signify' saw frontman Steve Wilson give the the rest of the band a more open-ended chance at creative contribution. The decision came following the general disappointment surrounding preceding album 'The Sky Moves Sideways', which had seen Wilson in total control and essentially functioning as a solo artist with a backing band.

Lead single 'Waiting' changed the game for the eclectic prog outfit, entering the UK Indie Charts and catching fire internationally, drawing the group far more interest than ever before both in the UK and across Europe. The two-part extravaganza is the most grand scale track on offer, but similarly lengthy songs like 'Dark Matter' and 'Intermediate Jesus' manage to give it a run for its money. Keeping the pace unpredictable, the group also dabble in faster-paced, more conservative-in-length songs that ensure the head-spinning 61-minute tour de force has plentiful peaks and troughs.

A hit with critics and listeners, 'Signify', well, signified the group's evolution as the '90s wore on.


John Cunningham hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.