Six Feet Under -- Torment
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Six Feet Under — Torment

★☆☆☆ Everything on this album clashes. The guitar riffs are the only familiarly competent element on the album, and even then they’re hamstrung a bit by the Psalm-69-style mix. The drums and bass are unconvincing. But above all, the vocals are garbage: muddy, uninspired, and distracting. They don’t work when the band are going full-throttle… but then you’ve got stripped down tracks like “The Separation Of Flesh And Bone,” wherein Chris Barnes’ vocals have more room to stink up the place.

Witherfall -- Nocturnes & Requiems
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Witherfall — Nocturnes & Requiems

★☆☆☆ The best thing I can say about this album is that it has as much arpeggiated shredding as anyone could hope to expect from anyone (other than. Other than that, this is progressive power metal by the numbers. Worse, this isn’t even updated for a modern age. Everything from the mix to the songcraft makes this sound like an early Iced Earth album, not a post-Iced Earth album.

Ulver -- ATGCLVLSSCAP
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Ulver — ATGCLVLSSCAP

★☆☆☆ This latest from Ulver wears its improvisational heart on its sleeve, culled as it is from live jams. It’s good background music, very much in the mold of John Carpenter crossed with V.A.S.T. and Sunn O)))… but it doesn’t scratch a particularly metal itch. It’s more like a rainier Godspeed.

Rotting Christ -- Rituals
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Rotting Christ — Rituals

★☆☆☆ Super boring extreme/black metal by the numbers, produced as if the only natural way to hear this music is in a dark arena carved out of Satanic stone. Every clichéd trope you can imagine is here, with very little rhyme or reason. This feels like what DETHKLOK seriously think they sound like.

Korn -- The Serenity Of Suffering
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Korn — The Serenity Of Suffering

★☆☆☆ Korn’s interesting rough edges have by now been repeatedly bleached away into anonymized oblivion… except for Jonathan Davis’s trademark vocals of course. (If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this was a solo album.) Worse, any semblance of real angst has long abandoned the band, only to have been replaced with well-honed but generic volume.

Rob Zombie -- The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser
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Rob Zombie — The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

★☆☆☆ This is an excellent caricature of Rob Zombie. All the superficial elements are here: big guitar tone, over affected vocals, infantile lyrics, and a fetish for utterly disposable B-movie and porn audio samples. What is regrettably new here is a penchant for out-of-nowhere pauses (including flourishes of acoustic guitar!), which disrupt any hope for decent pacing.

Otep -- Generation Doom
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Otep — Generation Doom

★☆☆☆ The album starts with Otep yelling, “I don’t give a fuck!” That makes two of us for this thoroughly derivative Soulfly-meets-Coal-Chamber-meets-Slipknot hour. You’re going to want to hear their cover of Lorde’s “Royals,” but probably not for the reason that the band intended.