GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR |LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN[2000] | This powerful third album found the instrumental Cannucks of Godspeed navigating yawning canyons of sound, careening from gentle pastoral moments to ripping heaviosity. Just when you think the track can't get any more jaw-droppingly intense, boom! GY!BE pull out another string section and introduce another dimension. Its 87-minute length is about the time it takes to view your whole life flashing before you in euphoric revelry.

UNWOUND |LEAVES TURN INSIDE YOU [2001] | From the first feedback-drenched moments of "We Invent You" to the cathartic blowout and then comedown of closer "Below the Salt," this thorny and chiming record perches on your chest and stays there for all four sides of melancholic rocktaculousness. Dubbed "post-hardcore" by people who focus more on the door policies of the shows the band played than on the music, Unwound left this as their ambitious, fitting swan song.

THE MARS VOLTA |FRANCES THE MUTE[2005] | The Mars Volta sprang from the ashes of At the Drive-In like Athena from Zeus's brain, fully-formed and ambitious, but their debut still didn't foretell the expansive prog move they would attempt with their sophomore outing. Here the horns, explosive acid rock, merengue rumbles, and non-stop dub-jazz-fusion-Mellotron-electronica-metal freak-outs are all within a complex narrative based on the death of an ex-band member. The most perfectly executed progressive double album of the past decade.

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