It seems that the further we go into 2011, the more impressive the release calendar becomes. The year started off with some interesting and impressive albums in January, and things only improved with a strong, star-studded February. March has the metal world set to explode, with big names both home and abroad releasing crucial albums. The calendar continues to heat up as we get closer to summer, with anticipation high for both veteran acts and new up-and-comers. All this has 2011 shaping up to be a tremendous year in metal.

March is starting off somewhat quietly, but these albums are all worth your attention. Spanning the length and breadth of metal genres, from rising stars of progressive instrumental metal and melodic hardcore, to veteran names in brutal death metal and stoner blues rock, there is something for pretty much everyone on today’s list. Whether you recognize the names or not, these are bands you need to know and listen to. Peruse this list carefully!

Scale the Summit, The Collective (Prosthetic)

Scale the Summit self-released their 2007 debut Monuments, and in no time, Prosthetic snatched them up for 2009’s sophomore album Carving Desert Canyons. This album earned them touring spots with Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, Devin Townsend, Periphery, and Fair to Midland during the past two years. The Collective is sure to be just as huge of a success, as these four musical prodigies from Houston continue to redefine the standards of excellence in progressive instrumental metal.

Firebird, Double Diamond (Metal Blade)

For those unfamiliar with Firebird, it’s the power trio from the UK led by metal giant Bill Steer. And for those that don’t recognize Bill Steer’s name for some reason, you probably know about two other bands he helped pioneer, Napalm Death and Carcass. Thus, it makes perfect sense that Firebird is among the best in stoner blues rock inspired by classic ’70s acts like Cream, right? Okay, maybe it makes no sense at all, but Firebird is still worth your time and attention. For a grindcore visionary, Steer has a rich singing voice that cements this band’s lush sound.

Omnium Gatherum, New World Shadows (Lifeforce)

These Finns have undergone a lot of change in the past five years, which ironically have also been their most productive. Longtime members Antti Filppu and Harri Pikka have left, new vocalist Jukka Pelkonen has replaced Filppu, and the band has hopped from Nuclear Blast to Candlelight before landing on Lifeforce last year. Meanwhile, 2007’s Stuck Here on Snakes Way peaked at #31 on the Finnish national album chart, while 2008’s The Redshift topped out at #24. It would be an excellent sign if New World Shadows could break the top twenty.

Gideon, Costs (Facedown)

Facedown and its imprints have snatched up a LOT of impressive young bands in the past year, and Gideon is among that group. These four kids from Alabama are part of the rapidly-growing melodic hardcore scene, and in a genre that relies on the power of vocalists more than anything, Gideon has a leg up on their peers because of frontman Daniel McWhorter. On par with Jonathan Vigil of The Ghost Inside and Chadwick Johnson of Hundredth in terms of sheer skill, McWhorter has the poise and skill of a veteran with twice his experience. With him on vocals, Gideon has an excellent future in front of them.

Serj Tankian, Imperfect Remixes (Reprise/Serjical Strike)

This digital EP offers three remixes of tracks from Serj’s 2010 album Imperfect Harmonies. The highlight is a remix of the track “Gate 21” featuring a guest appearance from Tom Morello. There is also a fourth track, “Goddamn Trigger”, that is a B-side from the Imperfect Harmonies sessions. If you enjoyed Serj’s last album, then these remixes will most likely appeal to you. Morello’s work alone makes this EP a hit.

Dying Fetus, Killing on Adrenaline and Grotesque Impalement (Reissues) (Relapse)

We got two reissues from the death metal legends on January 18th, and these two complete the set of reissues from their pre-Relapse period. Dying Fetus has been around for two decades now, and it’s fitting for the band to celebrate their history in this manner. Killing on Adrenaline, the band’s punishing sophomore album, built on their debut in fine form. The EP Grotesque Impalement offered a unique collection of covers and B-sides. These reissues are essential for all Dying Fetus fans, as they were not widely distributed in their first printings and are hard to find currently.

Also being released this week:

Blood Ceremony, Living with the Ancients (Metal Blade)

Betrayal, Abandonment (Mediaskare)

Images of Eden, Rebuilding the Ruins (Nightmare)

Parasytic, Poison Minds (Relapse)

Rwake, Hell is a Door to the Sun (Reissue) (Relapse)

Next Week: The Hate Crew rides again as Finland’s biggest metal export unleashes their seventh album, leading a list of high-quality releases. Come on back for more metal fury in seven days!