Thumbs up: +18
If you're like me and can't sit still with just one or two genres, perhaps you'll find some ideas in this list. I kept the variety with genres, but also by including all worthy bands from unknown newcomers all the way up to big names. Basically, everything I liked this year.

Since there are so many genres here, don't get too worked up about specific rating and placement. They're generally in order, but more importantly they're all amazing.

And can I just say? 2011 was a remarkably beautiful year in metal. So much quality music, new genre fusions, and exploration. One of the best years I've had the privilege to enjoy; I'm getting a little misty-eyed to see it go.

Created by: Susan | 06.01.2012



1. Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy - Návaz
My album of the year, this Moravian folk/doom band has released their most stunning work yet. Full of intensely gripping build-ups and music that really develops, this passionate album will burrow into your soul.
2. Fair To Midland - Arrows & Anchors
As close a 2nd place as you can get, prog metallers Fair To Midland are also at the top of their game. This prog is brilliant yet not inaccessible; it's just purely beautiful.
3. Autumn - Cold Comfort
Rock/metal group Autumn have really come into their own with Cold Comfort and solidified their direction with this tight exploration of their new sound. It's heavy with mood, yet full of surprises.
4. Shadowside - Inner Monster Out
Heavy/power metal never sounded so good. Shadowside will blow your mind and leave you feeling a hell of a lot better about the future of the genre. After I heard this album, all other power metal lost a point.
5. 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room
You've been seeing this album on everyone else's "Top" list and for good reason. If you haven't been overtaken by this slow and thoughtful doom debut then what are you waiting for?
6. Heavenwood - Abyss Masterpiece
Masterpiece indeed. Heavenwood blew away all other gothic release this year with one of the most interesting and engaging albums, full of left turns, changes, and treats for the ear.
7. Fluxious - Why So Serious?
Get your groove on with alternative/jazz fusion. Not for everyone, but if you like some good bass and a little funk with your metal then dive straight into Fluxious.
8. Sleestak - The Fall Of Altrusia
I'm making a new award called "Most Mesmerizing/Hypnotizing Album of the Year" and Sleestak wins with this one. Psychedelic sludge/doom has never had such an impact on me; perhaps you'll let it enter your veins as well. It's beautiful music like this that makes me sad to see 2011 go.
9. SubRosa - No Help For The Mighty Ones
If anyone tells you that violins can't be a crushing part of epic sludge metal then hand then this album and walk away while shaking your head in disgust at their ignorance.
10. Alaskan - Adversity; Woe
The best sludge album you haven't heard this year. Alaskan brings a diverse serving of songs to this highly atmospheric debut.
11. Pagan's Mind - Heavenly Ecstasy
Saving power metal part II. Pagan's Mind do a prog/power thing here that doesn't miss a note. I could easily see this being a melodic metal lover's album of the year. It's that quality.
12. Myrath - Tales Of The Sands
Progressive metal based in beautiful Arabic traditional music. Tunisia's Myrath have been steadily improving since their formation and now this release announces their arrival alongside the top names in metal.
13. Ancient Bards - Soulless Child
If you like your power metal with speed, energy, and nearly breaking the cheese-o-meter, then put Soulless Child on NOW. They're the most energetic and fun fantasy metal band, and are blessed with a female vocalist who knows how to belt and use her entire voice.
14. Isole - Born From Shadows
Born of Shadows is "doom album of the year" quality. If it weren't for pesky competition they'd have it for sure. They spun a web of atmosphere with skilled songwriting and performance; truly something special.
15. Within Temptation - The Unforgiving
Another one you probably already have an opinion on already. Nonetheless, I couldn't help but include it since I really dig the new territory that the band is exploring; I can't get enough of that 80s vibe they have going on. Also, it's so damn addictive it's one of my top listened albums this year.
16. Today I Caught The Plague - Lore
A new prog band for you to love! These self-financed Canadians are one of the best and most successful unsigned bands, who most certainly won't stay unsigned for long. I hear traces of Vanden Plas love, other people hear more Protest The Hero. Either way, their debut full-length is just the first of many to come.
17. The Rain I Bleed - Narcissist
My most promising new symphonic metal band. This group is no joke; incredibly intense music all around. Progressive, sometimes thrashy, sometimes gothy, this album even features Jeff Loomis on the opening track. The singer/composer's vocals are smokey and bluesy in a way that's highly complementary to metal. Check them out.
18. Saille - Irreversible Decay
Another sweet debut. Melodic black metal, this time heavy in atmosphere.
19. Turisas - Stand Up And Fight
You probably already love or hate this album. Obviously, I can't understand the hate. This album is positively brimming over with epic energy and air-instrument potential.
20. Phideaux - Snowtorch
Prog rockers Phideaux release their best yet. Nuff said.
21. Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
Atmospheric sludge which drops in some hauntingly acoustic passages at all the right moments. They drive their music forward with the most tender of hands.
22. Darkest Era - The Last Caress Of Light
Darkly sad and sparse, this folk band keeps it simple with a heavy/folk hybrid, while presenting music from the most bare and exposed part of the soul.
23. The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Bleeding The New Apocalypse (Cum Victriciis In Manibus Armis)
Symphonic death metal with good industrial elements, male and female vocals, damn fine finished product.
24. TOAD - Rotten Tide
Raw, gritty sludge. Can you handle it?
25. Rain Delay - Slumber Recon
Serbian avant group Rain Delay delivers their 3rd album full of variety and pure talent. Male and female vocals and a nice variety of styles grace this eclectic project.
26. Aaskereia - Dort, wo das alte Böse ruht
Pagan black metal, only they're doing it better than everyone else is.
27. Apostle Of Solitude - Apostle Of Solitude / Rituals Of The Oak / The Flight Of Sleipnir [Split]
Here's a split from 3 doom bands who deserve lots of attention. Established groups Apostle Of Solitude and The Flight Of Sleipnir supply some amazing treats on this disc, while sharing the stage with brilliant newcomers Rituals Of The Oak who you will most definitely be hearing more from. All the bands complement each other perfectly. Don't miss this special split while it's still around.
28. Cauldron - Burning Fortune
Classic heavy metal. I can't really put my finger on why I love this album so much but what Canadians Cauldron bring to the table is perhaps such a pure love of classic metal that you completely forget that it's the same old thing. They got "it" for sure.
29. Dirge - Elysian Magnetic Fields
If you're not careful you'll be swept away in this whirlpool of post-metal mood, never to be seen or heard from again.
30. November-7 - Season 3
Another highly promising symphonic band, yet approaching the genre from a totally different angle than promising genre-mate The Rain I Bleed (above). This is more straight-up, heavy, melodic metal, with enough symphonic elements to kick it over the line into that genre. Strong songwriting and fantastic performances from this Swiss foursome.
31. Glorior Belli - The Great Southern Darkness
At.Mo.Sphere. Oh, it's black metal. With southern rock elements. And really good. So go listen. K bye.
32. Grayceon - All We Destroy
Chill, intense prog led by cello and dark, low-pitched female vocals. Get it. You can thank me later.
33. Borealis - Fall From Grace
Along came Borealis and saved power metal. When this year was looking dismal, with release after release of shitty power metal, Borealis was one of the first decent albums I heard. It was hard to top for me, and not many bands did.
34. Brymir - Breathe Fire To The Sun
Dark, intense, energetic FOLK. Do you miss the glory days of Eluveitie and Ensiferum? Fear not, Brymir has enough extreme metal AND enough well-placed symphonic elements to usher in a new era of badassitude in folk metal.
35. Fell Voices - Untitled
Let this droning black metal wash over you like waves.
36. Neurotech - Antagonist
Let's not forget the industrial/electronic scene. If you do, you'll miss Neurotech's masterpiece of moody soundscapes and delicious, dark dreams.
37. Haken - Visions
A grower. But if you're into prog you probably already know that. Just know it's going to be SO rewarding in no time at all.
38. Lazuli - (4603 Battements)
French prog band Lazuli keeps it fresh and interesting with this wonderful album. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes quite unexpected, but always damn good.
39. Suidakra - Book Of Dowth
I've followed this band for a while now and for some reason was nervous about this release. It's not perfect, but it's probably one of their most beautiful. It follows a pretty abnormal trajectory but stick with them and you'll be glad you did.
40. Omnium Gatherum - New World Shadows
Um.. It's really good melodeath.
41. Spellbound Dazzle - Unreal Fairy Tales
Fun melodic metal incorporating bits of damn near every genre, mood, and style. Don't take the band or album name too seriously; if you dig the whimsical vibe that Freak Kitchen delivers, then don't miss this.
42. A Storm Of Light - As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade
It's real purrdy. And rockin. Seriously though.
43. Tesseract - One
Crowned by many as the album that'll bring "djent" to the masses. Listen and find out why.
44. Smohalla - Resilience
Crazy ass avant metal that'll tickle your fancy.
45. ReinXeed - 1912
Power metallers take note of ReinXeed. How have I not heard of them before? Top notch symphonic power metal with just the precise amount of cheese and awesomeness.
46. Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage
Black metal from my home state. If you're not yet on board with this gorgeous specimen of music, then wtf are you waiting for?
47. To Cast A Shadow - In Memory Of
Really lovely, promising gothic/doom band with an astute atmosphere full of cold colors.
48. Iron Savior - The Landing
Last minute entry to the "decent power metal of 2011" club, and deservedly so.
49. Xes Dreams - NC-17
Let Avant/symphonic Ukrainians Xes Dreams show you how it's done. For one thing, they dress up like ancient Egyptians. For another thing, the music is pretty sweet. Keeps you guessing, that sort of thing.
50. Hibria - Blind Ride
Nearly reaching the heights of their groundbreaking debut, Hibria has still managed to take us on one hell of a worthy "ride" with this kick-ass music. Take special note of the album closing cover of Frank Sinatra's "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," showing that badass is alive and well in any decade.



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by Susan ]



Comments

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Milena - 06.01.2012 at 00:37  
This list is now making me feel guilty for not hearing absolutely every prog metal album that has been pimped by anyone anywhere during 2011. I pledge to behave better with 2012 releases. And give some classics a first visit.
Troy Killjoy - 06.01.2012 at 00:44  
Points for Aaskeria and Fell Voices fo sho.

Otherwise... far too eclectic for me.
Susan - 06.01.2012 at 00:44  
Written by Milena on 06.01.2012 at 00:37

This list is now making me feel guilty for not hearing absolutely every prog metal album that has been pimped by anyone anywhere during 2011. I pledge to behave better with 2012 releases. And give some classics a first visit.


No need to hear them all... just the ones I listed

And re: hearing everything - I've been saying that for years and I feel like this was the first year where I finally heard a satisfying amount of music. Of course, I'm sure I'll find 10 more albums in the next week that deserve to be here, but c'est la vie.
Milena - 06.01.2012 at 00:48  
Written by Susan on 06.01.2012 at 00:44

No need to hear them all... just the ones I listed

Yeah, and when BloodTears, Ivor, Ag and the rest of the crew tell similar things, I'm screwed
And I hope I'll achieve that level of, uhm, hearing everything. I'm a procrastinator after all, and procrastinating with music is honestly one of the better things you can do for your brain.
Mr. Doctor - 06.01.2012 at 01:38  
Written by Milena on 06.01.2012 at 00:37

This list is now making me feel guilty for not hearing absolutely every prog metal album that has been pimped by anyone anywhere during 2011. I pledge to behave better with 2012 releases. And give some classics a first visit.


Don't know the other releases but if you haven't heard Grayceon - All We Destroy you REALLY need to listen to ti asap. I found it brilliant and that comes from someone who isn't into prog. Easily the best Prog of the year for me.
Susan - 06.01.2012 at 01:49  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 06.01.2012 at 00:44

Points for Aaskeria and Fell Voices fo sho.

Otherwise... far too eclectic for me.


It's ok, I know you really came here for Within Temptation and my promising new symphonic bands

Seriously, it's cool. Points is better than no points But don't you like Pensees Nocturnes, too?
Troy Killjoy - 06.01.2012 at 01:52  
Written by Susan on 06.01.2012 at 01:49
But don't you like Pensees Nocturnes, too?

Wolves and PN, sure. Saille's debut wasn't too shabby either.

But none of those three were a surprise to me. Everyone and their dog enjoys what the Wolves release, PN is mixed with classical music, and Saille you've been raving about since you heard it.

Fell Voices may not be the most raw black metal band, but it was still a surprise to see them on this list. Same with Aaskeria.
Susan - 06.01.2012 at 01:58  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 06.01.2012 at 01:52

and Saille you've been raving about since you heard it.


....heh... tis true I suppose
BloodTears - 06.01.2012 at 10:38  
Really good. Must I say that XES Dreams is good too!
Susan - 10.01.2012 at 00:10  
I edited it to add Sleestak, the psychedelic sludge masterpiece.

Done editing now
Ag Fox - 13.01.2012 at 15:18  
Got 5 that I haven't listened to yet and I can't say I agree with some of your choices as there's a lot of quality stuff this year, but this list is probably one of the more diverse ones (=
Feel free to check mines if you haven't already :3
Darkside Momo - 17.01.2012 at 03:19  
Written by Milena on 06.01.2012 at 00:48

I'm a procrastinator after all, and procrastinating with music is honestly one of the better things you can do for your brain.

Are you another me or something?
Milena - 17.01.2012 at 08:39  
Written by Darkside Momo on 17.01.2012 at 03:19

Are you another me or something?

Maybe :3
Ag Fox - 17.01.2012 at 10:08  
Written by Darkside Momo on 17.01.2012 at 03:19

Written by Milena on 06.01.2012 at 00:48

I'm a procrastinator after all, and procrastinating with music is honestly one of the better things you can do for your brain.

Are you another me or something?
lol... the double meaning behind it =P
Susan - 17.01.2012 at 16:00  
Another stranger me?

So... clever... can't stand it...
Milena - 18.01.2012 at 00:20  
Written by Susan on 17.01.2012 at 16:00

Another stranger me?

So... clever... can't stand it...

I personally dislike BG, but I like that song of theirs because I've used the title so many times in occasions like these, I can't even count
psykometal - 20.01.2012 at 07:41  
How can anyone dislike Blind Guardian?! Lol. I wouldn't say this list is too eclectic for me but there is so much here and I already have so much other stuff on my plate that Idk if I will ever be able to check all this out properly but it looks like a really awesome list. The only issue I have with it is the claim that Tesseract is THE djent band, me personally I feel that Vildhjarta is THE djent band (opinions vary though and I certainly respect yours). Since the whole genre gets it's basis from Meshuggah, Vildhjarta is the only djent band I have heard so far that (imo) "do it right" if it can be called that; if ever there was a band that could out-Meshuggah Meshuggah it would be Vildhjarta.
Susan - 20.01.2012 at 07:44  
Written by psykometal on 20.01.2012 at 07:41

if ever there was a band that could out-Meshuggah Meshuggah it would be Vildhjarta.


Well, shoot! When you put it like that....

To be honest I haven't even heard Vildhjarta. I suddenly feel an obligation to! I didn't get TOO into djent this year but see a lot of potential me-liking happening there in the future.
psykometal - 20.01.2012 at 08:11  
Written by Susan on 20.01.2012 at 07:44

Well, shoot! When you put it like that....

To be honest I haven't even heard Vildhjarta. I suddenly feel an obligation to! I didn't get TOO into djent this year but see a lot of potential me-liking happening there in the future.

If you like Meshuggah and you like what djent you have heard so far then you should definitely check out their younger fellow countrymen, Vildhjarta, ASAP. Very impressive young band and definitely THE highlight of the djent genre...
Awesomesaurus - 21.01.2012 at 03:59  
What can I say about overwhelmingly profound list like this one... its pure awesomeness... and a Serbian band...
Milena - 22.01.2012 at 22:57  
Written by psykometal on 20.01.2012 at 07:41

How can anyone dislike Blind Guardian?! Lol.

I'm just weird like that, pay no attention.
Druss - 22.01.2012 at 23:13  
I'll definately be following some of the suggestions here, glad you've made a list as I've already found a few bands through suggestions you've made, Lyrinan, so thanks in advance
Asunder - 27.01.2012 at 05:31  
A list just for me it would seem, I can't focus on one album let alone one genre very long.
Fredd - 11.12.2012 at 16:45  
Will we see a 2012 version of this?
Susan - 11.12.2012 at 16:52  
Written by Fredd on 11.12.2012 at 16:45

Will we see a 2012 version of this?


Hmm, yes! Though I haven't been as impressed with new releases this year so it may not be a top 50.

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