Danzig -- Black Laden Crown
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Danzig — Black Laden Crown

☆☆☆☆ Unfulfilling, unfinished, and wildly uneven… for all the reasons that you’d come to expect from latter-era Danzig (i.e.: not produced by Rick Rubin) I don’t mind the slower bluesy vibe of this album; Danzig The Band was always about that devil blues anyway. What I mind is the irredeemable descent into narcissism that this project seems to have undergone.

Lindemann -- Skills In Pills
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Lindemann — Skills In Pills

☆☆☆☆ This is a barely listenable assortment of bad choices: here’s what happens when you take Rammstein’s most awkward element — their vocalist — and prop him up with what can best be described as the Teutonic answer to Static-X. As a bonus, Lindemann doubles down on lyrics so puerile that they make Steel Panther sound like Walt Whitman by comparison.

Venom -- From the Very Depths
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Venom — From the Very Depths

☆☆☆☆ This album very much sounds like an excuse for a showcase of bassist/vocalist Cronos, with everyone else feeling like an afterthought. It goes on way too long, with a doggedly old-fashioned and outdated sensibility, a production quality that while energetic is slapdash at best (especially the irritating guitar tone), and vocals that are at times clownish.

Ill Nino -- Till Death, La Familia
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Ill Nino — Till Death, La Familia

☆☆☆☆ Okay, here’s the thing: there are moments on this album that manage to elevate the entire proceeding above the weird Slipknot-meets-Santana-meets-Biohazard-meets-Attack!-Attack! mess of the whole thing. But to find the diamonds, you’ve gotta deal with the rough, and songs like the first track are really, really rough (although I do kinda like the congas on some of these tracks… but I am Latino, so your mileage may vary on that one).