Morbid Angel -- Kingdoms Disdained
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Morbid Angel — Kingdoms Disdained

★★☆☆ Doggedly ferocious and unpristine, this is what you want a Morbid Angel to sound like. It’s also more interesting than I feared, with some clever and unusual riffs and moments buried under the bare brutality. And yet, this album often feels like a Frankenstein’s monster of death metal B-sides and bridges crammed together.

The Faceless -- In Becoming A Ghost
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The Faceless — In Becoming A Ghost

★★☆☆ This is, at first, a somewhat frustrating album. It’s still recognizably The Faceless, but the music’s taken on a new inconsistency and weirdness (and Michael Keene is no stranger to weirdness). It starts very strongly (skipping the throwaway opener), with something akin to radio-friendliness without losing any of the technical bravado or progressive elements.

Cavalera Conspiracy -- Psychosis
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Cavalera Conspiracy — Psychosis

★★☆☆ If you can imagine the Brothers Cavalera being abducted in 1990, shoved into a time-traveling van, and driven to a modern recording studio while listening to Slayer’s “Undisputed Attitude”, you can imagine what this album sounds like. Certainly interesting from a sci-fi/ethnomusicological standpoint, but not as intriguing as a metal album.

Godflesh -- Post Self
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Godflesh — Post Self

★★☆☆ After the full-throated “A World Lit Only By Fire,” this new album from Godflesh feels like a cruel hard turn of the steering wheel, off the familiar if potholed road the band helped pave. At least the album telegraphs the move into its new territory: more experimental, moodier, and absolutely industrial.

Marty Friedman -- Wall Of Sound
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Marty Friedman — Wall Of Sound

★★☆☆ After shocking us with the unreasonably good album “Inferno”, Marty returns to form and satisfies every preconception; this is about as good as it gets for self-indulgent lead guitarist wankery. Largely, this is a problem of balance (a tricky thing to nail). There are sporadic moments of red-blooded metal mayhem strewn about, but they’re tempered too often by cheese.

Cradle Of Filth -- Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay
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Cradle Of Filth — Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay

★★☆☆ If you’re already a fan of Cradle of Filth, this album will most certainly satisfy. It’s more of the same, only better. Full disclosure: I am not one of those fans. In particular, Dani Filth’s vocals have always gotten on my nerves. But everything else is very well done, and there’s enough meat on the bone that I don’t mind the gristle as much as I have in past albums.

Annihilator -- For The Demented
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Annihilator — For The Demented

★★☆☆ This is a weirdly uneven album, careening from rethrash to Megadeth at their cheesiest to… is that Jackyl? Steel Panther? Founder Jeff Waters has been fronting the band since the last album, as well as producing the album, which partially explains the unfortunate prevalence of questionable vocal choices high in the mix.

Quicksand -- Interiors
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Quicksand — Interiors

★★☆☆ It pains me to have to give this anything less than 4 stars at first blush. With that preface out of the way: this is very clearly the result of a band who have grown apart, evolved independently, and come back together to see how their disparate pieces might recombine anew.