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).

The Acacia Strain -- Slow Decay
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The Acacia StrainSlow Decay

★★★☆ I can say, without hyperbole, that this is the most experimental deathcore album I’ve heard in years, if not ever. It contains all of the genre’s hallmark touches (seismic detuning of mushy guitars, compressed triggered drums, and the cookiemonsterest of vocals), but deployed in novel and unpredictable ways throughout the album.