2011 already looks to be a promising year for heavy metal music, with a large number of leading metal bands slated to release new albums.

2010 was a year relatively light on releases from big-name bands, with Iron Maiden and Blind Guardian among the few true heavyweights putting out new albums. This is not to understate the quality of many releases – there were a lot of good debut albums and releases from more underground acts, and in a lot of ways 2011 has a lot to live up to.

Stratovarius Start 2011 With a Bang

An early release of 2011 came from legendary Finnish power metal band Stratovarius , who released their thirteenth album on January 21. Elysium is their second album since the departure of founding guitarist Timo Tolkki after some 23 years in the band – a massive loss, considering he wrote 95% of the band’s songs throughout that period.

Stratovarius came back relatively strongly in 2008 with Polaris, however, with replacement guitarist Matias Kupiainen filling in admirably, and Elysium confirms that the band are adjusting to life without Tolkki just fine.

DevilDriver and Turisas New Albums

Into February, American heavy metal band Devildriver are to release their fifth album, Beast, on the 23rd. The band have been developing a fearsome reputation for their live shows and the quality of recent albums The Last Kind Words and Pray For Villains means there’s great promise of another strong effort from Dez Fafara’s outfit.

Folk metal Finns Turisas will release their third album, Stand Up and Fight, on February 23. The band’s last album, 2007’s The Varangian Way, propelled them firmly to the forefront of the metal world, and despite various lineup changes since then (including the mysterious disappearance of accordion player Janne Mäkinen while on tour in Amsterdam) the band will be looking to drive home their reputation as one of the world’s leading folk metal acts.

Children of Bodom Tour With Amon Amarth

Another leading Finnish metal band with an album out in 2011 is Children of Bodom. The melodic death metallers are scheduled to release their seventh album, Relentless Reckless Forever, on March 8 through Spinefarm Records. It is their first release since 2008’s Blooddrunk, and is accompanied by an extensive World Tour alongside Ensiferum, Machinae Supremacy and Amon Amarth.

Amon Amarth themselves have a new record out this year, their eighth. The Viking-themed death metal titans will release Surtur Rising on March 29, their first effort since 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God, their first album to chart in the Billboard 200.

Another March release is the second album from the latest Max Cavalera vehicle, Cavalera Conspiracy. Blunt Force Trauma is out March 29, and while Max’s brother Igor continues behind the drumkit bass player Joe Duplantier has left to focus on his own band, Gojira. He is replaced by Johnny Chow.

Other Albums Expected in 2011

At present not many other upcoming albums have firm release dates – one which does is the eighth album from Swedish power metal legends HammerFall, although it is yet to be named. A tentative release date of May 20 is mooted.

Several other bands have albums in production which should see the light of day at some point in 2011. Female-fronted Swedish melodic death metallers Arch Enemy have completed recording their ninth album, Khaos Legions, which singer Angela Gossow claims should be released in May.

Another album scheduled to be released early in the summer is Alestorm‘s third album. The Scottish Pirate metal band are planning a world tour to support the release of Back Through Time, starting in Australia and New Zealand.

Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody of Fire may have released an album, The Frozen Tears of Angels as well as a rather weighty EP, The Cold Embrace of Fear, in 2010. Nevertheless, they are set to release tenth studio album From Chaos to Eternity in Spring 2011, and this is reputedly the last album to be based on the band’s long-running fantasy saga which they started way back in 1997 on Legendary Tales.

Bands in the Studio in 2011

Also rumoured to be going into the studio in 2011 are a host of heavyweights including Lamb of God, Machine Head, Meshuggah, Chimaira, Mastodon, Metallica, Morbid Angel, Opeth, Orange Goblin, Primus, Rammstein, Testament and Fear Factory. Obviously it can’t be confirmed that any of these band will put out albums in 2011, but they certainly underline the promise of more to come and the bright future of the heavy metal genre this year and beyond.

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