Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell

Carrie & Lowell is an album that will make you grab the tissues. The 2015 release that made made many end-of-the-year lists explores Stevens’ grief and memories following the death of his mother, Carrie. Her passing led to Stevens creating an album about family memories, mental illness and hitting rock bottom.

ThriceThe Alchemy Index Vols. I, II, III & IV

Thrice’s Alchemy Index has each element of nature represented: fire, water, air and earth. To make it even more inventive, each EP ends with a sonnet in iambic pentameter detailing from the actual point of view of each element. For example on the first volume, “The Flame Deluge” takes the brutal first-person of fire itself and relates it to humankind’s use of nuclear weapons: “And who will stand to greet the blinding light?/It's lonely when there's no one left to fight.”

Death Cab For CutieTransatlanticism

When you listen to Death Cab For Cutie, you are surely expecting to be pulled in some heartfelt direction. Transatlanticism focuses primarily on long-distance relationships. The title track does a swell job at summing up the theme with the repeated lyric “I need you so much closer.”

Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties We Don’t Have Each Other

A move that’s not common in the alternative scene, the Wonder Years’ Dan Campbell uses this solo project to take on a character other than himself. Aaron West recalls some of the worst years of his life including the failing of his marriage after a miscarriage, drinking habits, the loss of his father, and trying to start over somewhere else.

AlesanaThe Emptiness

With influences including Edgar Allen Poe, David Lynch and Stephen King,  this Alesana album will have your mind reveling in dark ruminations. The Emptiness is centered upon  a sketch artist finding his lover dead, burying her in the basement, going mad and killing a group in a tavern, and then attempting to seek revenge on whoever killed his love.

Protest The HeroKezia

Using a fictitious, overarching storyline to hint at current societal faults, Kezia finds Protest The Hero commenting on the influence of religion and power in today’s world. The concept centers around the execution of the character, Kezia, told from the point of view of three individuals: a priest, the executioner and the main protagonist.

WhitechapelThe Somatic Defilement

Deathcore has always been a genre that holds no descriptive detail out of the storyline. The first album from Whitechapel takes on the narrative of legendary serial killer Jack The Ripper. Throughout the album, the band present vividly clear depictions of the murder of prostitutes. Don’t let your mom listen to this one.

The Wonder Years No Closer To Heaven

Touching a topic such as the loss of a loved one can be harrowing for both an artist and his audience.  After vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell went through a period of writer’s block, he looked at the larger picture of what life holds. Topics ponder how outcomes could be different if someone survived, and a self-critique of being there for someone else when they need it most.

My Chemical Romance The Black Parade

A band held on a pedestal for their extraordinary vision, My Chemical Romance fired on all cylinders for the Platinum-selling The Black Parade, making the whole album cycle a ride riddled with multi-tiered essences of dark art. The rock opera sees “the Patient” die, join the afterlife and look back on the impactful memories close to his heart.

Read more: 11 times bands changed their original song lyrics