28. Opeth, 'Blackwater Park' (2001)
Titled in tribute to the early-Seventies German proggers of the same name, Blackwater Park marked the first time these Swedish death-metal virtuosos gave full reign to the progressive tendencies that had long lurked in their music. With Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson producing plus adding keyboards, Mellotron and backing vocals to epic, multi-movement excursions like "The Drapery Falls," "Leper Affinity" and the misanthropic 12-minute title-track climax, Opeth leader Mikael Åkerfeldt infused the melodic, atmospheric aspects of King Crimson and Pink Floyd with Opeth's complex, dark riffs and his own sepulchral growl. "I would not call it melancholy, it's just pitch black!" Åkerfeldt told Ultimate Metal. "Everything is kind of veiled in some kind of darkness." Wilson assisted on two other similarly brilliant albums — 2002's Deliverance and 2003's Damnation — but Blackwater Park marked Opeth's ascension to metal's top tier. D.E.