The year 2011 has offered up a diverse range of metal releases, ranging from old-school thrash to new-school metalcore. In the slew of material released in 2011, the greatest impact was felt by the acts who brought progression, innovation and solidarity to their music. Bands featured in this list such as Mastodon, Megadeth and Anthrax continued to live up to their names with their next album in a series of continuously solid material, while others seemed to come out of nowhere with brain-melting surprise hits. This year, the metal world has raised their horns to the groups who allow the genre to flourish. We've also counted down the top rock albums the year, but here Loudwire presents the Top 10 Metal Albums of 2011:

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    Iced Earth

    Progressive heavy metal stalwarts Iced Earth's latest effort 'Dystopia' was received as one of 2011's most critically praised albums. Fans also gave the album a red-hot reception, welcoming new vocalist Stu Block with open arms after the departure of Matt Barlow. Iced Earth were inspired greatly by totalitarianism and horror films during the recording of 'Dystopia,' also including a taste of the classic 'Something Wicked' storyline.

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    'In Waves'


    Trivium prove that they are one of the most eclectic metal bands on the scene with their newest album 'In Waves.' The soaring title track was released exclusively to Trivium World fan members on May 21, and the album boasts a wide range of tunes -- from the radio-friendly single 'Built to Fall' to the more experimental 'Dusk Dismantled,' which showcases frontman Matt Heafy's masterful guitar skills.

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    German technical death metal outfit Obscura released a true masterpiece in 'Omnivium,' turning the album into one of 2011's most celebrated releases. 'Omnivium' is a death metal menagerie of scorching instrumental work -- each member of the band proving to be masters in their craft. Obscura manage to make extreme metal catchy with the single 'Vortex Omnivium,' as well as cramming an entire song's worth of notes into the first five seconds of the fret-melting 'Euclidean Elements.'

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    'Dead Throne'

    The Devil Wears Prada

    Metalcore mavens the Devil Wears Prada broke protocol somewhat with their fourth full-length release, 'Dead Throne.' Produced by Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, 'Dead Throne' was highly influenced by a dark period in TDWP frontman Mike Hranica's life. Songs like the powerful first single 'Born to Lose' and the epic track 'Vengeance' are proof that TDWP are major players in the metalcore world.

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    'The Age of Hell'


    Chimaira graced 2011 with yet another praised and celebrated album, 'The Age of Hell.' The band released the two singles, 'Trigger Finger' and 'Born in Blood,' simultaneously, continuing their legacy of thrash-inspired metal. 'The Age of Hell' also shows some experimental progression from Chimaria, most notably within the track 'Clockwork,' where the band added a hint of saxophone into the piece.

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    It's been impossible to ignore Megadeth this year - both with their promotion strategies and the quality of their 2011 release, 'TH1RT3EN.' Several tracks from 'TH1RT3EN' were publicly available in some fashion before the official Nov. 1 release date, including 'Public Enemy No. 1' and 'Never Dead.' Other tracks were written as far back as 1991, such as 'New World Order.' 'TH1RT3EN' is a scrapbook of old and new thrash that is true to Megadeth's signature style.

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    'Relentless Reckless Forever'

    Children of Bodom

    The keyboards are back! Finnish melodic metal legends Children of Bodom crashed 2011 with a roaring return to form with 'Relentless Reckless Forever.' The band's seventh album concocted a blend of old and new school Bodom, with frontman Alexi Laiho dishing out masterful composition. Laiho delivers some of his best vocal and guitar work on tracks such as 'Not My Funeral,' 'Roundtrip to Hell and Back' and 'Northpole Throwdown,' the latter of which may be the greatest Bodom song title ever.

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    'Unto the Locust'

    Machine Head

    Machine Head fans have been losing their minds due to their excitement over 'Unto the Locust.' Produced by frontman Robb Flynn, 'Unto the Locust' is packed with powerful epics - the seven-song album clocking in at just under 50-minutes. 'Unto the Locust' showcases the continued progression of Machine Head with thrash-based tracks such as 'I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)' and the breakout single 'Locust.'

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    'The Hunter'


    Mastodon have earned the spot as one of metal's most dominant bands. Their creative tiptoeing of the line where the underground meets the mainstream has given them masses of fans on both sides. Their 2011 release 'The Hunter' continues their progressive prowess with the experimental singles 'Black Tongue' and 'Curl of the Burl.' 'The Hunter' has received incredibly positive feedback from both critics and fans.

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    'Worship Music'


    With the return of legendary vocalist Joey Belladonna after 21 years away from the band, Anthrax were able to once again bring the magic to the studio with their 2011 release, 'Worship Music.' Belladonna delivers a youthful performance on 'Worship Music,' with the rest of the band providing a solid instrumental foundation. Singles 'Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't' and 'The Devil You Know' are just two of the 14 monster thrash tracks, which all combine to bring Anthrax's 'Worship Music' to the top spot of our Top 10 Metal Albums of 2011.

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