Iron Maiden -- Senjutsu
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Iron MaidenSenjutsu

✦✦✧✧ I was going to come right out and heap praise on Bruce’s vocals, but honestly everyone sounds great here. Not a single member of the band are phoning it in. That said, 80 minutes is a big investment in an album that doesn’t offer many iconic moments or hooks. Also, is it a concept album about board games?

Every Time I Die -- Radical
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Every Time I DieRadical

✦✦✦✧ ETID is as vital and imaginative as ever on this album, but this time around their mathy metalcore maelstrom feels more political than I recall them being before, in ways both overt and subtle. The album is chock full of pleasing surprises and upheavals. The whole band sound great, but special props to vocalist Keith Buckley, whose range is as impressive as his commitment to every style he reaches for, and to newcomer Goose Holyoak on drums, fresh off a few years with my other fave metalcore standardbearers Norma Jean.

Gojira -- Fortitude
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GojiraFortitude

✦✦✦✧ This is as much an evolution from 2016′s accessible hit Magma, as it is a descendent of their earlier albums. Fortitude is the best of both wordsL experimental, driving, satisfying, heavy, and confident. My only question is: what more can Gojira do before they’re accepted into the media mainstream?

Aborted - ManiaCult
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AbortedManiaCult

✦✦✦✧ The latest from Belgian deathgrind heroes Aborted continues the band’s fascinating and satisfying assault, following their career-long trajectory that has me convinced they’re Carcass from a parallel and slightly more demented universe. There’s not much innovation here, but with shredding this lethal, who’s going to complain?

Whitechapel -- Kin
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WhitechapelKin

✦✦✦✧ This is unusually catchy, but it’s also very sufficiently tech-deathy. There’s an obvious lean toward songcraft here; that, coupled with the ultra crisp production and emotive cleans, combine to file down the rough edges a bit, giving you an album that often sounds more like Parkway Drive than The Acacia Strain.

Vildhjarta -- Masstaden under vatten
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VildhjartaMåsstaden Under Vatten

✦✦✦✧ Vildhjarta prefers their djent jarring and jazzy (djarring and djazzy). Good god, this album is heavy. But the heaviness hides some inner subtlety and beauty, in the staccato spaces between the palm mutes and quarter-note crashes. Vilhelm Bladin’s Swedish screaming are paradoxically an essential part of the listening experience, adding a layer of focus and attention to the music that can often sound chaotic at best; familiarity with the Swedish language is not required.

Carcass -- Torn Arteries
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CarcassTorn Arteries

✦✦✧✧ Torn Arteries is fun enough, and yet it feels like a slight step downward from the more entertaining 2020 EP Despicable. All the elements you’d hope for are here: the dual vocals of Bill Steer and Jeff Walker, the deft guitars and rumbling bass, the clever riff salad. But there’s a laidbackness to the whole album, a simmer that never quite progresses to a full boil.

Twelve Foot Ninja -- Vengeance
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Twelve Foot NinjaVengeance

✦✦✧✧ This is an ambitious yet ultimately upsetting album. I generally admire bands who make a practice of blending disparate styles together, although in retrospect the unspoken aim is usually for some kind of cohesion. Here, it feels more like self-indulgent whiplash for abuse’s sake, like a meaner Mr. Bungle. The music defies the listener to settle into any particular mood.

Limp Bizkit -- Still Sucks
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Limp BizkitStill Sucks

✦✧✧✧ What we once loved so much about Bizkit, back at the height of their powers, was how deftly they fused metal and rap, with equal deft contributions from all members of the band. This, the Jacksonville quintet’s sixth studio album, is something else: a hip-hop-centric collection of songs from all over the musical map, except there’s virtually no metal here at all.