#1: Symphony X - Iconoclast
Well, here we are. I will say that this wasn't even close for me actually. Most years, I end up strongly conflicted between 2 or 3 albums for this #1 spot, but this year, I've been pretty determined for months that this would take the honor. Don't get me wrong, this was a great year - this is probably the strongest top 20 I've ever assembled, but Iconoclast just has a certain quality to it that makes me love it so much more than everything else.
I admit I was not the world's biggest fan of 2007's Paradise Lost. There were a few songs I loved (Title track, Revelation, Eve of Seduction) - but on the whole I didn't particularly care for the new direction, and was really scared of what the future might hold for the band. Iconoclast is, in my opinion, the album Symphony X needed to make at this point in their career. This album has enough of the new ground they covered on Paradise Lost, and a solid dose of what made their older stuff so great that it sort of makes everyone happy. Each year I usually only encounter maybe a half-dozen to a dozen albums that easily transcend the "new music" label as stuff I listen to for that year and become just music I love and music I want to listen to regularly, regardless. Iconoclast made that jump by far the most easy of any 2011 release, in fact the actual double-CD has barely left my car since the week the record came out. Though the album is full of highlights, for me, the far-and-away highlight track is without a doubt "When All is Lost", which to me is not only the best song on the record, but at this point I would say it's one of my favorite songs this band has ever recorded, which is a huge deal for me. It's just perfect.
Featured Track: "When All is Lost"