Tomahawk -- Tonic Immobility
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TomahawkTonic Immobility

★★★☆ Is this even metal? No, it is not (which is a surprise, given that the group now consists of people from FNM, The Jesus Lizard, Mr Bungle, and Helmet/Battles). But it is imminently listenable, endlessly innovative, and just lots of fun. Mybe I’m just a sucker for Duane Denison’s inimitable guitar stylings propping up Mike Patton’s vocal madness.

Gizmachi -- Omega Kaleid
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GizmachiOmega Kaleid

★★★☆ I’ll confess that I completely forgot about Gizmachi, after glutting myself on their first major album on heavy rotation back in 2005. In retrospect, I think SikTh took up the space my brain had reserved for Giz. In retrospect, I should’ve just kept listening to The Imbuing and biding my time.

Soen -- Imperial
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SoenImperial

★★★☆ This is an intriguing effort at accessibility, from a famously polymathic prog band who have been compared in the past to Tool, Opeth, and Leprous. While those touchstones are still discernible, Imperial finds the Swedes at last sounding more like their own thing than their influences. The only criticism I’ve got is that there’s maybe a little too much polish and sanding down of the rough edges (but that’s fairly typical of any prog band who tries to resonate with an audience, it seems).

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2020: The Year In Metal

Jesus fucking christ, guys. You know what kind of year this was. And if somehow you forgot what 2020 was, consider this: over the past 12 months, I have only managed to audition 52 new albums, or 1 per week. That’s something like 40% my usual workload. Do you have albums that I missed?