As always, these are based on what I listened to and enjoyed the most, not on an objective, “critical” take.
Five metal albums:
Anthrax, Worship Music
Hammers of Misfortune, 17th Street
Darkest Era, Last Caress of Light
Red Fang, Murder the Mountains
Honorable mentions: Obscura, Omnivium; Argus, Boldly Stride the Doomed; Sinister Realm, Crystal Skull; The Human Abstract, Digital Veil; Mastodon, The Hunter
Five non-metal albums:
Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials
The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest
Wye Oak, Civilian
Best album from 2010 that I slept on till this year: Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
Lifetime acheivement award: I spend a big chunk of 2011 delving into the catalogue of veteran hard rock act King’s X; in fact, I probably listened to them more than any other band this year.