Metal, as always, is detonating in several directions at once. But one encouraging trend seems to be a return to a certain songfulness as if, after two decades-plus of metal mainly aiming to be "extreme" at the expense of musicality, the most forward-looking headbangers are suddenly beginning to realize that incomprehensibly thrown-up vocals (for instance) became a cliché eons ago, and having memorable songs doesn't automatically make you less heavy.
Which means, paradoxically, that the most forward-looking bands also frequently tend to be the ones looking backward to the power-thrash mid-'80s, the NWOBHM early '80s, the biker-boogie '70s, and even the acid-rock late '60s, back before metal was called metal. Not exactly a brand-new development in all cases, but it seems to be picking up steam. It doesn't apply to all 15 of the notable 2011 albums tallied below, but it might apply to most. None of them are for everybody, but all of them are for somebody.