Byzantine -- The Cicada Tree
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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.

Origin -- Unparalleled Universe
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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”).

Boris -- Dear
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Boris — Dear

★★★☆ The experimental trio from Japan return to a doomy form that they’ve been distancing themselves from for at least 7 years. Far from a tired capitulation, this album feels like a reinvigoration. The music here resonates with a brawny emotionality that belies the band’s laboratory leanings.

Sentient Ignition -- Enthroned In Gray
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Sentient Ignition — Enthroned In Gray

★★★☆ A really interesting and lovely technodeath debut that does a remarkable job of broadening the usual scope of others in the subgenre. The music here cartwheels from Euro-style symphonic bombast to moments of mature, laid back atmosphere. Also, the shredding is nonstop (but not overbearing). Prog this busy, and yet this endearing, is a rare beast indeed.

Decapitated -- Anticult
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Decapitated — Anticult

★★★☆ This is a terse, energetic, and fun Decapitated album, better than its predecessor “Blood Mantra” but not quite as insta-classic as “Carnival Is Forever.” This also feels like a gateway Decapitated album, in a couple of ways. First, while the songs are replete with stock Decapitatedisms, there’s also plenty of new influences to be found here (Meshuggah and Slipknot chiefly among them).

Goatwhore -- Vengeful Ascension
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Goatwhore — Vengeful Ascension

★★★☆ Just as nasty as you’d expect from Goatwhore (think somewhere between Belphegor, Entombed, and Morbid Angel)… but damn is this groovy and tasty and interesting. Never have these guys sounded as self-assured and rollicking. The second half of the album is even more special than the first, so stay for the whole thing.

The Monolith Deathcult -- Versus
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The Monolith Deathcult — Versus

★★★☆ This is a delightfully sillier, deathier combination of Slipknot and Front Line Assembly, with a dash of Amon Amarth’s pomp dialed up to the extreme. While long-time TMD fans won’t be surprised by this, the band are showing sounds of even greater experimentation, largely around motifs you wouldn’t expect from a metal band… but also in the occasional sparseness (a word that I don’t think I’ve ever used in the context of this band before).

Suffocation -- ...Of the Dark Light
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Suffocation — …Of the Dark Light

★★★☆ Classic technodeath from a veteran group of the form. On this, the band’s eighth album, Suffocation are tighter and more lethal than ever. They waste no time in unleashing the tempest in the front half of the album, and the punishment is meted out liberally. So what if it all just blurs together into a spasmodic assault that you won’t easily remember afterward; it’s still an impressive (and mercifully terse) metal experience.

Vallenfyre -- Fear Those Who Fear Him
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Vallenfyre — Fear Those Who Fear Him

★★★☆ The latest from Gregor Mackintosh’s grindy sludgey deathrock side project is a fun, energetic, slab of evil: nasty, unvarnished, ponderous, and gloriously dark. The album goes from rockin’ to dirgelike and back again with entertaining aplomb. Also, it does not at all sound like it’s only 38 minutes. If you can say that, and not be bored, you must be listening to something good.