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DecapitatedCancer Culture

✦✦✧✧ Pretty damned good tech death by Decapitated, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone who knows the band. I applaud their maturation and experimental bent, even if it doesn’t always work. Okay, it rarely works… but I still want to give them props for trying. (That track featuring Tatiana Shmailyuk from Jinjer is straight fire, tho… truly don’t-miss material.)

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Cave InHeavy Pendulum

✦✦✦✧ This is the best that Cave In’s ever sounded. The band also feel as energetic and restless as ever. A runtime of 71 minutes is a lot to swallow, but it gives the band enough room to stretch out and entertain their various shadow selves. Listen for hints of Clutch, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, plus (and knowing the Katamari-like propensity of various Converge members to keep cross-pollinating and uplifting each other’s and other bands’ sounds) Mutoid Man, Old Man Gloom, and Quicksand.

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MonumentsIn Stasis

✦✦✧✧ This is obviously a djentcore album, with equal parts SikTh and After The Burial. Beyond that, though, the band are not trying to escape or even redefine who they are. Rather, there’s more of a focus here on quality over quantity, and the relative restraint lends an air of self-assurance, such a rare find in a genre plagued by overcompensation.

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PrimusConspiranoid

✦✦✦✧ If you’ve never listened to Primus before… why the hell not? Also, don’t start here; you’re not ready.

Okay, now that those newbs are staring at the Frizzle Fry cover with alarm, I can tell y’all that this is the happiest I’ve been listening to Primus in a long time.

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WatainThe Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

✦✦✦✧ Without a doubt, the most entertaining album that Watain has ever released. The band have found great ways to generate that Norwegian black metal atmosphere, but within that sonic envelope they’ve managed to cram everything from musicianship to groove to hooks to… dare I say subtlety? There are surprises in virtually every minute of the album’s challenging length.

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AbbathDread Reaver

✦✦✧✧ What happened?! Outstrider was such an interesting and promising evolution of the Abbath sound, itself a sweet culmination and furtherance of Immortal’s journey. And now, Abbath’s third album, feels both less experimental and yet even more detached from its forebearers. It’s also not very intense, if I’m being honest. Maybe this just an awkward teen phase, while the band and music morph into what I can only assume will eventually be a Norwegian black-rock Stooges cover band.

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UndeathIt’s Time… To Rise From The Grave

✦✦✦✧ Oooh, you nasty! This band’s dedication to o.g. goregrind is so thorough and unflinching, it feels more like they heard Reek Of Putrefaction back around 1990, then holed themselves up in a cave for 30 years and have been evolving that sound ever since. If any part of you ever loved Cannibal Corpse or Massacre, this album will definitely make you smile.

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RammsteinZeit

✦✦✧✧ This album seemingly finds Rammstein in a slightly contemplative frame of mind. I say "slightly," because now as ever, the resulting music is such a polished product of the band’s formula — Germanic swagger rock that plays will in the giant arenas required for their pyrotechnic performance — that it’s all but impossible for Rammstein to really surprise or shock anymore.