Saxon -- Thunderbolt

Saxon — Thunderbolt

★★☆☆ Aside from updated production values (which sound great), this is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a British heavy metal band formed before the advent of the Compact Disc. Jokes aside, if you’re in the mood for some NWOBHM with updated audio sensibilities, this album is for you.

Rolo Tomassi -- Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

Rolo Tomassi — Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

★★★☆ This new Rolo Tomassi album operates in two modes fairly equally: interestingly jazzy post-trip-hop and chaotic mathcore, like DEP meets Lamb meets Norma Jean. The beautiful thing here is that neither mode feels like filler against the other. It’s all internally consistent, cohesive, and compelling. And in a further evolution for the band, the album’s emotional range is almost cinematic in scope.

Tribulation -- Down Below

Tribulation — Down Below

★★☆☆ This album feels both novel and dated at the same time. Its production values and humble musical ambitions lend the proceedings a tiredness that’s hard to look past. But the album is also fresh in some of its riffs and chord progressions, as well as its interweaving of Swedish death metal, thrash, and black metal.

Into The Great Divide -- Into The Great Divide

Into The Great Divide — Into The Great Divide

★☆☆☆ This is a different project than usual for Dream Theater’s drummer Mike Mangini: a “rock novel” that reimagines the narrative of Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero’s Journey,” an instrumental album save for “chapter” “intros” from voiceover actor Larry Davis. And it’s pretty much what you’d expect: utter wankery, more fit for a drum clinic than anything else.

Portal -- Ion

Portal — Ion

★★☆☆ This album is nuts. Lo-fi avant garde progressive black cvlt noise, like Boris played on vinyl that also happens to be a cat’s scratching post. Put another way, I imagine this must be what non-metalheads think all metal sounds like.