Darkthrone -- Old Star
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DarkthroneOld Star

★★☆☆ Look: I’m giving this album two stars in part because it’s amazing that this duo is still making music (if you know of any other studios at nursing homes, let me know!), but otherwise I could do without it. This is allegedly an album that explores different genres, but it all still sounds to me like vintage Norwegian black metal.

Inter Arma -- Sulphur English
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Inter ArmaSulphur English

★★★☆ Squeeeeeeze those invisible oranges! This is Inter Arma at their most inhospitable and devastating; and while album-over-album increases in heaviness should be no surprise by now to anyone who’s been paying attention to this band, it’s still utterly debilitating to hear their latest culminations firsthand. The band continue to be progressive in their own way, but this time around they all but abandon any pretense of melody, channeling their creativity instead into rhythm and rage.

Fleshgod Apocalypse -- Veleno
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Fleshgod ApocalypseVeleno

★★☆☆ This is a fun record to listen to. That said, whether you’re already a fan of FGA or are only hearing of their brand of orchestral tech death now for the first time, this album’s unvaried production and all-too-familiar riffage suggest that you should listen to the band’s previous album "King" instead.

Pelican -- Nighttime Stories
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PelicanNighttime Stories

★☆☆☆ Less entertaining than the band’s prior album "Forever Becoming," this collection of instrumental sludgy post-metal songs asks too much indulgence in its aimlessness. I’m sure I’d like it a lot more if I was baked out of my fucking skull, but that should be a value-add, not a requirement.

Dreadnought -- Emergence
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DreadnoughtEmergence

★★★☆ While I’m enthusiastic about the idea of "prog doom" ("doom prog"?) on paper, this album is a tough one to get aboard, likely because the outcome of such a formulation is (by definition) shoegazey and moribund. Still, this album is probably the best prog doom implementation you can find. Props to vocalist/guitarist/flautist Kelly Schilling for girding the whole album with a sumptuous lushness, although really the whole band is committed to this layered enterprise.

After The Burial -- Evergreen
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After The BurialEvergreen

★★★☆ Have I ever said "djentcore" before? Because that’s what this is… and I kinda dig it. The best track on the album is its opener, "Behold The Crown" (which might win for use of pinch harmonics alone, and boy do they make a meal of it here). However, there is an almost-great tinge to almost every aspect of the album, from songwriting to riffage to production.

Warforged -- I: Voice
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WarforgedI: Voice

★★★☆ An intriguing debut album of progressive blackened death metal that is more surefooted than it has any right to be. Think latter-day Gorguts cross-pollinated with Fredrik Thordendal’s “Sol Niger Within.” It’s pervasively dark, ambitiously imaginative, and hugely atmospheric (in a way that feels more earned than you typically get from black metal bands these days).