Albums that focus on storytelling
One of my most looked forward to albums of the year is Muse’s Drones, which has all of its songs progress through a story based on this central motif of World War III. In Psycho, a drill sergeant takes advantage of the protagonist after Dead Inside. In Mercy, the protagonist realizes that he’s lost his mind. Then, in [JFK] + Defector, the protagonist escapes from the hold.
These are just a few examples. What other albums have a central focus on storytelling via its songs?
There are many, particularly focused on the 70's prog era. I could recommend some, but I suspect they wouldn't be well received if Muse is representative of your taste. It might be worth narrowing the question down to the sort of music that it's worth answering with.
While this is a list question and may get closed, I'll throw in a few of my Prog favorites and a couple others.
- Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
- Jon Anderson - Olias Of Sunhillow
- Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes From A Memory
- Pink Floyd - The Wall
- Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime (as well as Mindcrime II)
- The Who - Tommy
- The Who - Quadrophenia
- Green Day - American Idiot
These all deal with a continuing storyline. There are other "concept albums" which have a central theme, but each of the above are meant to be taken as one complete story.
As mentioned by another answer, albums containing songs that are linked together by a story are one of the more common types of concept album - there's a list of concept albums on Wikipedia which may be worth a browse if you have not seen it already.
A couple that sprung to my mind:
The Pretty Things - S. F. Sorrow
The album is structured as a song cycle, telling the story of the main character, Sebastian F. Sorrow, from birth through love, war, tragedy, madness, and the disillusionment of old age. (Wikipedia)
Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage
Zappa self-deprecatingly describes the album as a "stupid little story about how the government is going to do away with music"... The story is told by a character identified as the "Central Scrutinizer" narrating the story of Joe, an average adolescent male, who forms a garage rock band, has unsatisfying relationships with women, gives all of his money to a government assisted and insincere religion, explores sexual activities with appliances, and is imprisoned. After being released from prison into a dystopian society in which music itself has been criminalized, he lapses into insanity. (Wikipedia)
Jeff Wayne - War of the Worlds.
Concept album with full cast of famous singers of their day and Richard Burton narrating - what more could you want? ;-)
On phone so I'll flesh this out later.
- Angra - Temple of Shadows, Secret Garden, probably Aqua
- Pain of Salvation - Entropia, One Hour by The Concrete Lake, Remedy Lane, The Perfect Element, Be, Scarsick
- Avantasia's metal operas
- the russian band Эпидемия - Эльфийская рукопись, Эльфийская рукопись - Сказание на все времена, Сокровище Энии