East Of The Wall -- NP-Complete
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East Of The WallNP-Complete

★★★☆ Lovely prog metal (emphasis on the ‘prog’). This is kinda what I really want to hear when I imagine Scale The Summit paired with an appropriate singer. (But there’s also echoes of Don Cab, Torrential Downpour, and Glassjaw.) Special shout out to Chris Alfano for pulling off the hat-trick of laying down bass lines that are simultaneously jazzy, muscular, and unique….

Amon Amarth -- Berserker
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Amon AmarthBerserker

★★☆☆ This album is fifteen minutes longer than Amon Amarth usually give us; this is one of those times when less would likely have been more. There are some gems of Viking metal, and I could imagine slipping a couple of these tracks into my lifting playlist, but there’s an awful lot of Not on here as well.

Ola Englund -- Master of the Universe
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Ola EnglundMaster of the Universe

★★★☆ This solo debut think of Ola Englund as the torchbearer for modern guitar wankery. Imagine a Shrapnel Records vanity album, only by way of Sweden instead of California. (Jason Becker: still alive, gods love him!) Fans of The Haunted expecting more of the same will be disappointed, but keep your eyes on the prize: this album taps into lots of different metal styles, so there’s something here for everyone, even if it isn’t super memorable or emotive.

Children Of Bodom -- Hexed
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Children Of BodomHexed

★★★☆ The band is focusing anew on technical ability; they’ve been practicing, and it shows. Thusly armed, CoB’s usual treacly nonsense is interspersed between truly shreddy moments. Even without the bonus tracks, the album drags, but it’s still one of the best things the band have ever made.

Whitechapel -- The Valley
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WhitechapelThe Valley

★★★☆ This album finds Whitechapel farthest afield from the deathcore of their formative years, to excellent effect. Sure, the band is still tuned down and know their way around a breakdown, but that’s all leavened by a complexity and progressiveness that I wasn’t entirely sure they had in them. Destined to make it onto lots of best-of lists in December.

Allegaeon -- Apoptosis
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AllegaeonApoptosis

★★☆☆ This is a very mixed bag for me. On the one hand, Allegaeon’s reputation for being an innovative and supertechnical prog death metal act continues with this album. On the other hand, it’s dogged by a persistent sense of boredom. I chalk it up to an underrepresentation of dynamics or variety, which is a weird thing to say in the middle of a super shreddy arpeggiostorm, but there it is.