TesseracT -- Sonder
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TesseracTSonder

★★★☆ TesseracT have expanded their emotional resonance on their fourth album, but the price is a somewhat lessened emphasis on their foundational djent. The sacrifice isn’t too dear, as the songs don’t spend too much time away from the band’s bread and butter. Speaking of time, I wish this album was longer; as it is, it is evocative of their debut EP “One” for brevity.

A Perfect Circle -- Eat The Elephant
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A Perfect CircleEat The Elephant

☆☆☆☆ This album is so bad that it’s forcing me to talk about it, even though it’s clearly not even close to metal. Guitars give way to pianos, which give way to glitch? EDM? And through it all, Maynard continues his decades-long penchant for trolling those who love him most (although it feels like he may not even realize it any longer).

Primordial -- Exile Among The Ruins
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PrimordialExile Among The Ruins

★★☆☆ Muddy and meandering, this is a surprisingly limp effort from a band known for energetic excellence. The songs here feel underedited, in terms of musical refinement, emotional resonance, or even just plain length. And the shame of it is that, even with those knocks, you can still get a sense of what might have been: a unique, surefooted, melancholic masterwork.

Nekrogoblikon -- Welcome to Bonkers
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NekrogoblikonWelcome to Bonkers

★★★☆ This reminds me of Scatterbrain, and BTBAM, and of course goblins. There is an unsubtle goofiness here, although it’s self-aware, joyous, and purehearted in its silly purity (something I could never say of cringeworthy Steel Panther, for example). If you can embrace the obvious goofiness of the band’s conceit, you’ll be rewarded with some objectively technical melodeath.

Kalmah -- Palo
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KalmahPalo

★★☆☆ COOOOOOKIEEEEEEEEEEE! All kidding aside, it was perhaps a tactical mistake for Kalmah to start their latest melodeath album with such a seemingly stereotypical beerhall tune, as that obscures the vitality and innovation found throughout the subsequent tracks. That said, the hits are also surrounded by a few duds and headscratchers.

Kamelot -- The Shadow Theory
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KamelotThe Shadow Theory

★★☆☆ Absolutely no surprises here: this is textbook power metal, with standout vocals from Tommy Karevik, of course, but not much else to stick in one’s memory. There’s nothing here that I would remotely think of as “bad”… also but nothing here to really stir anyone’s blood.