Rivers Of Nihil -- Where Owls Know My Name

Rivers Of Nihil — Where Owls Know My Name

★★★☆ Rivers Of Nihil have really outdone themselves this time. Their third album adds a 70s’-prog sensibility to their already omnivorous brand of technical death metal. This seems to have squeezed out and refined some of the other voices in the band’s collective heads, and while not altogether foolproof, it culminates in a new maturity and gravitas.

Slugdge -- Esoteric Malacology

Slugdge — Esoteric Malacology

★★★☆ The highly anticipated album from our favorite space-slug-themed band does not disappoint. The music is massive like Gojira, inventive and suitably alien like Gorguts, but catchy like Mastodon. And yet, Slugdge manage to avoid some of the pitfalls that have recently tripped up those progenitors. Honestly, this is far better than anyone has a right to expect.

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.

Good Tiger -- We Will All Be Gone

Good Tiger — We Will All Be Gone

★★★☆ The supergroup’s sophomore album still has a lot of the magic as was evident in their 2015 debut “A Head Full Of Moonlight“, but the band’s musicality, emotionality, ambition, and strangeness are all dialed down a bit. This comes across more as a new maturity than any loss of momentum or inspiration, the result still captivating in its not-quite-*core pop-metal sensibilities.

Sons Of Apollo -- Psychotic Symphony

Sons Of Apollo — Psychotic Symphony

★★★☆ This debut album pretty much comes from a parallel universe Dream Theater, along the way improving upon every complaint I’ve had about DT for years (with stronger vocals, less formulaic prog, real balls to the metal). Hell, even the three obviously-for-radio tracks are at worst inoffensive (take that, “Surrounded”). There’s also a delightful early-90s bum-shaking the permeates the whole thing… except for when it’s replaced with what I swear can only be homages to the band UK.