Concept albums vs theme albums


Miserable Bastard
Apr 16, 2001
Enfield, South Australia
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Where would you draw the line between albums that actually tell a complete story (eg 7th Son, Music From The Elder, Operation Mindcrime, Quadrophenia or The Wall ) and those whose songs are written around the same theme (eg Chemical Wedding, Promised Land, Dark Side of The Moon, Brutal Planet, Ziggy Stardust...)

Is there a difference as far as you guys are concerned?

I'm not sure I understand the question.

A theme album is songs about a similar theme.

A concept album tells a story.

That IS the line. There may be some crossovers (i.e. Steve keeps saying that Seventh Son is a theme album, but he seems to be the only one who thinks so), but it's normally pretty cut and dried.
As far as some radio programmers and rock historians are concerned, concept albums and theme albums are one and the same.

(As an aside, if I read one more article about Sgt Peppers being "rock's first concept album" I shall scream. It's an excellent record and a watershed in the Beatles' career, but has neither a theme nor a concept running through it.)

I see that Phloggy agrees with me, but the line between concept and theme can still be quite blurred sometimes. Should "Brutal Planet", for example, be considered a concept album because all its songs are postcards from the same post-apocalyptic world?

Theme albums have all the songs based on or alluding to a particular subject, sounds like a concept to me.
There is a difference, but not much of one, and id dare to say that an album based on a theme IS a conceptual record. The theme is the concept......this thread could go on for a while i think if we keep arguing it, but Brutal Planet and Operation:Mindcrime are both concept albums in my mind, just approached different ways.

Just thought of a better example, Horror Show and Dark Saga by Iced Earth dont tell a story, but they are CERTAINLY concept albums, I win! :D

(Spawn jumps around with hands raised to the skys in triumph then looks around and realises the crowds have gone home and noone cares. But he keeps jumping around anyway).
Oohhh, good point.

But it all comes down to how you define "concept album". I'll admit that "theme albums" (which is where I would put HS) have a concept behind them, but when I hear concept album, I think of an album with a story, which is what I think Wrath is getting at.

(Phloggy rains of Spawns parade once again. He's got a taste for it now...)
I would consider Dark Saga a concept album because it tells a story (or at least part of one) and features the same characters and the same settings throughout.

Horror Show, on the other hand, is a theme album that recounts episodes from a lot of different stories, all of which are based around a similar theme. According to some definitions, this is enough to make it a concept album, but I don't necessarily agree...

Then they should be called STORY albums, not concept one, as, by definition, a concept album has a central theme pervading all the songs on the album. Meaning theme albums and story albums are both considered concept albums, regardless of whether they tell a story or not.

(Spawny does a sunshine dance and makes phloggys clouds piss off somewhere else :) )
I actually LOVE it when it rains, so the rain wouldnt bother me, but ive digressed.
But they're not. They're called concept albums. I'd change it for ya if I could Spawny, I really would. But I can't. So I'm not going to. And I lied when I said I would if I could. So there :p

(Phloggy can't be bothered with raining anymore, s'pecially cause Spawny likes it.)
I agree with Wrathchild. Concept albums are those that tell a story (the best example of this being the lovely Opeth opus, Still Life :D ). Theme albums as you call them are those based around one or a few themes, eg. Horrorshow as Wrathchild said.
I think there is a difference between the two. But that's not to say a concept album can't also be a theme album (or vice versa) if all the songs tell part of a story, while each of those parts has a similar theme running through them. That's what I think anyway... :confused:
The concept of a themed album is the theme its based on, thats still a concept! There is a difference between the 2, but its only a superficial difference, one tells a story from beginning to end, the other doesnt.
You people are all WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Spawny looks around and sees that everyones already left the titanic, but as captain, stays to the bitter end)

Spawny then does a rain dance just to annoy phloggy :p
I know what you mean Spawny, it could be taken to mean it like that. But when someone speaks of a `concept' album what they really mean is a `story' album. It's a bit of a misnomer really.
I think somwhere along the way, the phrase "concept album" came to mean an album with a story on it, when clearly thats not the case if you look at what concept actually means :)

I know what you mean too Kemmy, im just trying to make a point before the titanic sinks with only me on board :D

Abandon ship!
Women and children first! <--- Thats SUCH an unfair rule......
I think that themed albums can have a much broader range. Eg, Horrow Show by Iced Earth like someone said. There are many things that can fit into this theme. Where is something like Symphony X - V is what I would call a concept album, building around an individual story and concept. ???
Bloody hell - the last time anyone posted on this thread a couple of planes crashed into buildings in New York. Beware!