My .02 on a few Mtb tires that I have ridden in the past and a new one that I recently placed onto the bike.
I did not mention that I believe that all established companies that produce mtb tires have good products. (Same goes for all sporting goods equipment) I do not believe that any one tire is significantly better than another. It comes down to what application you are using it for and personal preference.
For this tire setup: WTB Bronson Race 2.1 front and Panaracer Fire XC Pro Kevlar rear. If you ride typical XC stuff (aggressive), I have found that this combo hooks up quite well. Very predictable and recovers well when the tire breaks traction. Check it out!