Satyricon -- Deep Calleth Upon Deep
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Satyricon — Deep Calleth Upon Deep

★★☆☆ Here is an album that is trying its damnedest to get me to hate it immediately. The amateurish album art, the stubbornly raw production, the tired opening gambit… all of these are sure signs of tiredness, if not vacuity. But push past the first impressions, and you may be surprised by the latest from these Norwegian black metal legends.

Unsane -- Sterilize
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Unsane — Sterilize

★★☆☆ Ah, Unsane. God bless ‘em. They keep on dishing out the same nasty, corrosive brew; take The Jesus Lizard, replace bourbon with ketamine, and crank the volume. It’s still as compelling and effective as ever. And also as repetitive and self-referential as I remember. But you should listen to it.

Belphegor -- Totenritual
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Belphegor — Totenritual

★★☆☆ Belphegor’s well-practiced style of blackened death metal finds a slightly clearer throat, thanks to Jason Suecof’s production values. That the album isn’t particularly varied could also be thanks to Suecof, but let’s be real: Belphegor ain’t the most subtle tool in the shed in any event. New drummer Bloodhammer does a great job pouring on the blast beats, which only undergirds the band’s efforts to sound like a steam locomotive about to blow up.

The Black Dahlia Murder -- Nightbringers
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The Black Dahlia Murder — Nightbringers

★★★☆ Fast and furious, with just a hint of innovation to keep things fresh. While perhaps not as insta-classic as “Everblack,” this is a more successfully experiment suite of songs than even that esteemed album. Consistently energetic and enjoyable from start to finish, the band even manages to squeeze a bit of walk-on frippery into the album’s economical 33 minutes.

36 Crazyfists -- Lanterns
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36 Crazyfists — Lanterns

★★☆☆ A solidly consistent album that is more thrash than I would have expected from the band that brought us “Time And Trauma”; this one is more reminiscent of Prong or Nothingface than anything else. (The previous album’s CoC tendencies are in full control here.) The result is an album where every song feels like it should be an instant classic, a collection of emotionally raw songs… yet somehow isn’t.

Chelsea Wolfe -- Hiss Spun
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Chelsea Wolfe — Hiss Spun

★★★☆ The disjointed nature of Chelsea Wolfe’s previous album “Abyss” is better comingled here, undoubtedly thanks in some measure to the production guidance of Kurt “Not My First Rodeo” Ballou. The same disparate influences from last time are still here: Massive Attack, V.A.S.T., Chris Cornell, Tori Amos, Wolves In The Throne Room.

Mastodon -- Cold Dark Place
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Mastodon — Cold Dark Place

★★☆☆ This is at least more interesting than the band’s previous effort, “Emperor Of Sand.” By now, Mastodon have tunneled straight through their own Baroness ambitions, only to emerge in some alien post-metal proto-folkrock nowhere of their own making. So, you know, kudos for sounding unlike anything else. I’m just not entirely sure I dig it.