Ufomammut -- 8
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Ufomammut — 8

★★★☆ Ufomammut have for years toiled to perfect the tricky subsubgenre of accessible progressive stoner doom. With that context, their latest album is a towering achievement in that pursuit. Emotive. Interesting. Exotic. Wandering. Concise. Hypnotizing. And now with 50% nastier bass tone! Worth at least two listens.

Akercocke -- Renaissance In Extremis
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Akercocke — Renaissance In Extremis

★★★☆ All hail the long-awaited return of the British band’s unique jazzy-gothy-doom-death alchemy. If anything, this Akercocke album is their most experimental, evoking in rapid and unpredicted fashion the works of Opeth, vintage Rush, Cocteau Twins, Napalm Death, Powermad, U.K., Leprous, Porcupine Tree… and on and on. A fascinating and rewarding listen.

Arch Enemy -- Will To Power
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Arch Enemy — Will To Power

★★☆☆ After a downright Otep-like opening, this album settles into an uninspired, wanky power metal mode that bears a vague resemblance to Arch Enemy albums of old. The band can still shred from time to time (and how could they not, with Jeff Loomis joining Mike Amott), but for the most part it sounds like they’re making sure this’ll sound good in the arenas that they’re filling up on the road.

Septicflesh -- Codex Omega
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Septicflesh — Codex Omega

★★☆☆ Pathologically bombastic as always, although the extreme metal and symphonic passages are less disjointed on this album than they were on “Titan.” There are pleasant attempts here to push the band’s own envelope of creativity and experimentation, and Logan Mader’s production wisely emphasizes the actual band’s performances more than it did last time out.

Sannhet -- So Numb
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Sannhet — So Numb

★★☆☆ Consistency seems to be the name of the game for this Brooklyn trio, and their latest slab of instrumental shoegaze metal can boast the same feats and fumbles as last time. This is engrossing and effectively moody, like the best parts of Isis and Deafheaven. At the same time, one gets the sense from the beginning that this isn’t stuff that’ll easily come to mind when the music stops.

Thy Art Is Murder -- Dear Desolation
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Thy Art Is Murder — Dear Desolation

★★☆☆ Typically, one doesn’t listen to TAIM for subtlety, or innovation, or expansion of the genre. One listens when in need of a good beating. Well, on this album the Australian deathcore quintet give you that brütality in spades, and they successfully throw in just a little innovation to boot. Still, you can depend on blast beats and breakdowns to carry you through this frenetic fusillade.

Galaktikon II- Become The Storm
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Brendon Small — Galaktikon II: Become The Storm

★★☆☆ This is a thoroughly solid speed metal/melodeath album, with tasty riffs throughout, and top-notch shredding by everyone in the band (who, it should be stated, are the same people behind Dethklok). That said… while this could be thought of as an unlicensed Dethklok album (at least according to Brendon Small and Gene Hoglan), the name isn’t the only thing missing from this album.

The Haunted -- Strength In Numbers
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The Haunted — Strength In Numbers

★★★☆ This latest album is quintessential Haunted, but not in a way that relies on the proven formula. There is a reinvigorated savagery here, as well as a new melodic sensibility throughout. Those two observations don’t normally coexist well, but on “Strength In Numbers” they thrive in equal measure. I know that, when reviewing their last album “Exit Wounds,” I’d said that it was the best thing the band’s done since “The Dead Eye.” Well… this new album tops that.