J. Sunlight here! Since all my favorite bands blew their loads in 2010, I didn't bother keeping close tabs on metal releases in 2011, so consider this the socioeconomically aware metalheads's top ten list of albums which exceeded expectations in all the extracurricular while maintaining the artistic verve and quality standards that we've come to expect from the falsely-conscious mutants who populate the metal scene!
1. Old Forest - Tales of the Sussex Weald
Technically some old releases cobbled together and sold to the same people a second time! Good business sense and efficient use of available resources earns Fogarty and crew my personal thumbs up and the award for best album of the year! Old Forest are like Emperor or Immortal or Gehenna or something but English. YOU KNOW...
2. Immolation - Providence
Obviously fishing for wider appeal, Immolation do Noktorn proud create their first release that appeals to non metal-nerds; an ep who's frolicking riffs and de-alienated stratification of oldschool-modern death metal cliches makes something you can enjoy without the niggling feeling that you should be listening to "Onward To Golgotha" instead. Expect this on college radio!
3. Tjolgtjar - Witchcrafts, I Am A Wolf, First Church of Tjolgtjar Volume I (Rites of The First Church)
"Witchcrafts" is an old album just now getting release. Part of an old collaboration which never came together, forcing the Rev to provide his own vocals to his own arrangements! It must be stated that this is not "Ikarikitomidun", nor in the same ballpark. It is in the same league, however! Think of it as the Royals of Tjolgtjar's black'n'roll with the faded color palate and dreary adherence to standard Sabbath influence. "I Am A Wolf" is a compilation and thus irrelevant, save the considerate inclusion of "Elephant" and "Rhinoceros", songs which are to date only available to scumbags who download (granted they are now available in the form of a download). The only mistake is the inclusion of the unlistenable "United States Black Metal Mafia: HellsLegions" rather than one of their best and more obscure tracks "Unholy Offerings". I went ahead and fixed this by replacing the track (I suggest you download it), thus this release is salvaged. "First Church of Tjolgtjaretc" isn't metal. While these are all download releases, by keeping the brand name alive I merit Tjolgtjar a respectable third position this year.
4. Burzum - Fallen
"I should defend myself no matter what, and not give the crusading Jew-lackey carte blanche to murder my race and me only because his blade is so bloody beautiful or because he has been allowed to do so for a thousand years already!" Varg, you charmer! It's not as though I could write this list and ignore Burzum... It's not as though YOU ignored these developments!
5. Glorior Belli - The Great Southern Darkness
While others are content to recycle material, Glorior Belli recycle the very metaphysics of their work and released a stellar sequel to "Meet Us At The Southern Sign" which had put them on the map, with a bit more aesthetic variety, a bit less emotional range, a less typecast arrangement in general and a greater emphasis on the cartoonish nature and oblique humor of it all. The 2 Fast 2 Furious of metal albums if you will.
6. Gigan - Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes
I haven't really listened to this but I'll go ahead and say it's great. Presumably nothing has changed since "Footsteps of Gigan" besides the collapse of global capitalism.
7. Vondur - No Compromise
It's Vondur's music, but available. What I guess we always wanted...
These spots are reserved for, respectively, a German, a French, and an American black metal record which I haven't heard yet.
Beherit - At The Devil's Studio
This is an obvious forgery as to my knowledge, Beherit was not a metal band until 2008. Hats off for the effort, though.
Until it has been properly vetted...
There you go! While other people may, in the uncertain, measured way one must in an age where all of our credibility is threatened, tell you that 2011 was a good or bad year for metal for an artistic-musical-cum-sociological-cultural hoedown I can tell you with true certainty that it was a year of true revitalizing self-perpetuation!