Dystopian Rock: A Request for Ideas

Dear Citizens of the anarcho-Republic of Progarchy,

As some of you might know, in addition to editing this site, I also pretend to be a professor and author during the day.  I’m currently working on a book on the history of dystopias (and dystopic ideas) in fiction, film, and music.  I’m trying to compile a list of dystopian rock albums.  Here’s what I’ve come up with.  If, in the comments section, you’d like to make suggestions of things I’ve missed–PLEASE do so!  I would be exceedingly grateful!

Yours, Brad

"Abandoned" by Craig Farham.
“Abandoned” by Craig Farham.



Rush, 2112

Rush, Clockwork Angels

The entire Ayreon series

Arjen Lucassen, Life in the New Real

The Tangent, Not as Good as the Book

Pink Floyd, Animals

Pink Floyd, The Wall

Gary Numan, “Down in the Park”

Radiohead, Kid A

Cosmograf, Capacitor

A few songs by Muse, Oingo Boingo, Coheed and Cambria

Flower Kings, Desolation Rose

Porcupine Tree, Fear of a Blank Planet

Yes, “Machine Messiah”

39 thoughts on “Dystopian Rock: A Request for Ideas

    1. Thanks, Tom. I’ve never heard it. Looks like I need to. One of the dangers of dystopian fiction (in any form) as you know better than almost anyone, is how often it’s not merely fantasy but actual observation and prophecy.


  1. Drew

    Haha,greetings AGAIN Sir-Brad…………..I believe You already KNOW what MY SUGGESTION is gonna BE on here!!!……………..As I’ve already seen “Rush-2112″………..Which I AGREE with………….Yet………….let’s do this the “RIGHT” way………by putting “Rush-HEMISPHERES” Ahead of 2112,if ya wouldn’t mind!!! (Lol. Just a suggestion!!!)


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Drew. I’d thought about Hemispheres, but the same story is told (with different particulars) in Clockwork Angels. But, you’re right–I should include it. Kevin, do you think OK Computer is as coherent as Kid A? Maybe. I need to think about this. Nemo–totally forgotten about that. I’ll order it. Thanks.


    1. Drew

      Yes,I DO agree with that ideology,as well,However Thank-You Brad,for the inclusion,as it’s GREATLY Appreciated,by a HUGE “Rush” fan!!!


  3. bryanmorey94

    From a newer band, Dream the Electric Sleep’s 2011 album “Lost and Gone Forever,” as well as this year’s “Heretics” are both dystopic albums. They reminded me of Pink Floyd in that respect. I was also thinking that maybe Kansas’ “Monolith,” but maybe not. Definitely Muse, though. They have dystopia all over their catalog.


  4. Brad, thanks for illustrating your concept with my image…

    Some suggestions: OSI – Office of Strategic Influence, Pain of Salvation – One hour by the Concrete Lake, PFM – The World Became The World, Roy Harper – Stormcock (?), Supertramp – Crisis? What Crisis? Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick, Klaatu – Politzania (from Hope), Jon Anderson – Olias of Sunhillow, Gentle Giant – The Power and the Glory, ELP – Tarkus, Echolyn – As the World, City Boy – The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Alan Parsons – I Robot

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Craig, thanks for letting me use your image! It’s wonderful. As to the suggestions–I’ll need to ask you about some of these. I’ll do these privately. The only OSI I own is the first. Do you recommend all (not sure how many) others?


  5. Brad, I’m assuming you’d like examples from relatively well-known artists, so here’s a few:
    1. Alice Cooper: “Brutal Planet”
    2. Nine Inch Nails: “Year Zero”
    3. Catherine Wheel: “Adam and Eve”
    4. David Bowie: “Diamond Dogs” and “Outside”
    5. Devo: “Duty Now for the Future”
    6. ELP: “Brain Salad Surgery”
    7. The Kinks: “Preservation Act 1” and “Preservation Act 2”
    8. Todd Rundgren: “No World Order”
    9. Utopia: “Oblivion”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. grehmke

    I wonder if ELO’s Time qualifies. “Yours Truly, 2095” was probably a poor influence on me as a teen, mixing nifty technology with relationship problems.


  7. eheter

    Arena – Contagion (especially the song Spectre at the Feast)

    Black Sabbath – War Pigs, The Mob Rules (song! not whole album), Hole In the Sky (“I’ve seen the dogs of war enjoying their feast, I’ve seen the western world go down in the east, the food of love became the greed of our times, and now we’re living off the profits of crime)

    ELP – Karn Evil 9

    Riverside – ADHD album

    Judas Priest – Electric Eye (song about electronic spying), Grinders (makes me think of the Reavers in Firefly)

    Iron Maiden – Two Minutes to Midnight

    Tool -Aenima, Vicarious, Intolerance

    Van Halen – Mean Street

    Living Colour – Cult of Personality, Type, Information Overload

    Pendragon – This Green And Pleasant Land (somewhat England specific)

    The B52’s – Channel Z

    Don Henley – Dirty Laundry

    Some of these apply to today’s world, some can be seen as comments on human nature, but they can all be fit into a dystopian context if not explicitly being directed to the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really nice selection, Erik. I’ve still not listened to Iron Maiden, amazingly enough. I should have thought about ELP and Riverside. As to Riverside, I tend to think their albums are far more psychological than political–but I’m just guessing. Tool, yes.


  8. Nicholas Keddy

    An obscure one: Good Morning Dystopia by Osta Lcve and a better known one: Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime. I will think of more as I am drawn to this genre…


  9. Michał

    Let’s see – if we include Porcupine Tree’s “FOTBP”, then also its companion EP “Nil Recurring” and the novel “Lunar Park” by Bret Easton Ellis. I would also include his “Glamorama”. Also, speaking of ties between novels and music, “Finch” by Jeff Vandermeer is dystopian for sure (and, to a lesser extent, the rest of his Ambergris series), which ties with an EP by Murder by Death. I would also add to the list anything by Madder Mortem and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I’ll have to think about it, there’s surely a lot more.


  10. A couple more with a Dystopian theme or near abouts… Hawkwind – Xenon Code / Ian Anderson – Homo Erraricus (3rd part of Thick As A Brick based around the 40’s but goes into years later with a bleak future for mankind and rebirth) / Eloy – The Tides Return Forever / RPWL – Beyond Man & Time / Airbag – The Greatest Show On Earth / Pallas – The Sentinel / The Flower Kings – Desolation Road / Dockers Guild – The Mystic Technocracy Season 1: The Age of Ignorance. (an amazing album epic in scope).


  11. Stephen

    All rock and roll has something of the dystopian spirit about it (and particularly unrequited love, the mover and shaker of all dystopian nightmares), but these jump out at me as being explicitly so: “S.F. Sorrow” The Pretty Things
    “Lifehouse/Who’s Next” The Who
    “905” a John Entwistle song on the “Who are You” album
    “Living in the Plastic Age” the Buggles
    Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” and any number of his songs
    “Modern Life is Rubbish” and “The Universal” by Blur
    “Preservation” The Kinks


  12. Nick

    Some great suggestions on here. Has Alan Parsons’ “I Robot” been mentioned?

    Are you considering video games as well, Brad? They are a pretty significant slice of today’s media and dystopian ideas are very popular in games.

    The Bioshock games (Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite) spring to mind immediately as being particularly relevant. The first two draw explicitly on the ideas of Ayn Rand whereas the third game is set in a dystopia inspired by early 20th century American exceptionalism. Their Wikipedia pages provide good summaries.



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