Carcass -- Despicable
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CarcassDespicable

★★★☆ Let me just get this off my chest: THIS IS BARELY AN EP, DAMMIT. Still, you know I can’t deny Carcass. And I gotta say, this four-song collection feels just like the goregrind-defining material on Necroticism, the band’s 1991 objective masterpiece. And yet, these four tracks do a great job illustrating the breadth of Carcass’ influence on both grindcore and melodic death metal.

Ensiferum -- Thalassic
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EnsiferumThalassic

★★★☆ I’d wager that when you read the words "Finnish folk metal," some part of you is recalling the mental image of a wooden Viking ship. This album is like that connection: traditional, chilly, sensible, trve. Also, lots of fun. Special props to Pekka Montin on keyboards… and epicly heroic cleans!

August Burns Red -- Guardians
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August Burns RedGuardians

★★★☆ Another ABR record means that it’s time to see how far the band can experimentally lean out of their metalcore envelope and still deliver the goods. The good news is that the band still make threading that needle seem effortless and inevitable. The bad news is that some of the material here does feel a little unemotive and basic, even by metalcore standards.

Ozzy Osbourne -- Ordinary Man
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Ozzy OsbourneOrdinary Man

★★★☆ This, Ozzy’s twelfth solo album, is immediately comparable to some of the high points of his solo career and even some earlier Sabbath albums. Kudos to his support band (featuring Duff McKagan, Chad Smith, and Slash!). The production is surprisingly muddy, but it works pretty well for Ozzy. I could do without the title track (featuring Elton John!),

Katatonia -- City Burials
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KatatoniaCity Burials

★★★☆ Somehow, this is both Katatonia at their most pop-oriented… and their most moodiest album since Dead End Kings. The production by Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström is as lush and appropriate as ever, with a heightened focus on atmosphere and songwriting. Special shout out to lead single "Lacquer," which uses electronica in a new (to this band) way to convey something unique, accessible, but oh so doomed.

Primitive Man -- Immersion
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Primitive ManImmersion

★★☆☆ This is as ridiculously heavy a noisescape as anything else PM have put out, with
a slightly more pronounced focus on song structure than their previous album Caustic (and mercifully less than twice the running time). But it’s still a bit of a one-trick diversion of an album, and definitely not something you’ll ever hear on any radio request line.

U.D.O. -- We Are One
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U.D.O.We Are One

★☆☆☆ This is 74 minutes of power metal bolstered incessantly by a German armed forces orchestra. So of course it’s over the top epic at times, what with the horns and woodwinds and whatnot. But aside from that, the latest from Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider is surprisingly limp. Also, this album cover looks like it belongs to the Now That’s What I Call Music series.

Anaal Nathrakh -- Endarkenment
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Anaal NathrakhEndarkenment

★★☆☆ Another 41-minute grind/industrial/death/black metal maelstrom, this time with a hint of… growing maturity and reflection? This album is in fact unusually thoughtful (don’t like the song title "Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)" fool you), with Dave Hunt’s lyrics touching repeatedly on the state of the Western world.