Warbeast -- Enter The Arena

Warbeast — Enter The Arena

★★☆☆ An old fashioned slab of music that splits its time between deathy thrash and energetic stoner metal, like a bunch of Slayer B-sides as if hastily mixed by Joe Barresi. The title track reminds me of a sloppier Slipknot. But I’m not harshing on this album with any real malice; it’s a fun enough time, in a barroom-brawler way.

River Black -- River Black

River Black — River Black

★★☆☆ This mostly-Burnt-By-The-Sun not-a-supergroup (also featuring ex-members of Municipal Waste and Revocation) is some nasty business. It’s first and foremost a tour of various kinds of aggression and swagger (evocative at times of Norma Jean, Entombed, and Sepultura at their punkiest). This, the band’s eponymous debut, is a weighty chunk of red meat without any filler.

Byzantine -- The Cicada Tree

Byzantine — The Cicada Tree

★★★☆ Groovy, surefooted, at once familiar and alien… this is classic Byzantine, doing what they do best. As has become par for the course with this band, I still don’t know whether to classify them as prog, thrash, hard rock, djent, agitprop… comparisons to Lamb Of God, Porcupine Tree, Alice In Chains, Meshuggah… all of these approximations fit, and yet all miss the mark.

Prong -- Zero Days

Prong — Zero Days

★★☆☆ This is a wildly off-balanced album. Track after track, you’re not sure if you’re listening to a Prong deep cut, a latter-era King’s X single, a particularly aggressive Linkin Park track, the title track of the next Tremonti album, etc. But despite the odds, this makes for an oddly compelling listen.

Decrepit Birth -- Axis Mundi

Decrepit Birth — Axis Mundi

★★☆☆ Neoclassical technodeath with an almost self-conscious fixation on deconstructing the form. This reminds me of Disincarnate’s debut, in the context of the early-to-mid-90s status quo. It is both unfortunate and telling that this Decrepit Birth album reminds me of something from 24 years ago; while there’s definite progress with great listenability on here, I’m left with the feeling that this album belongs to a different decade.

Pathology -- Pathology

Pathology — Pathology

★★☆☆ The good: this is good old-fashioned death metal, with tasty riffs that are sure to please and make you sneer and nod your head. The bad: you’ve definitely heard a lot of this before, except for the vocals, which are particularly disposable here, to the point of distraction. Nevertheless, the second half of the album is worth getting to, as its tunes are more memorable, its riffs more lethal.

Origin -- Unparalleled Universe

Origin — Unparalleled Universe

★★★☆ Ridiculous technodeath is ridiculous. That’s to be expected from Origin. They may have taken things a bit too far this time around, with their wankery devolving at times into pure implausibility. The drums are particularly unbelievable. However, undergirding the comically precise shredding is a latest catchiness that feels more pronounced since the band’s last album (2014′s “Omnipresent”).