Liturgy -- H.A.Q.Q
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LiturgyH.A.Q.Q.

★★☆☆ Merry Christmas! I got you a present… assuming of course that you are a fan of cacophonous, shrill, self-indulgent lunacy. Liturgy’s avant-black-metal is tempered here with digital frippery and all manner of orchestral instruments (sampled or otherwise) that have no business near an amplifier. This album is just begging me to give it a 1-star review.

Shadow Of Intent -- Melancholy
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Shadow Of IntentMelancholy

★★★☆ I had no idea that technical death metal and symphonic metal could coexist so comfortably! Sure, we’ve all heard tech death albums with "orchestral" intros, but those always seem to be only loosely related to each other. Melancholy is the first example I can think of where both genres feed off each other.

Agnostic Front -- Get Loud!
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Agnostic FrontGet Loud!

★★☆☆ Your best bet is to pretend like this album came out in 1990. This hardcore album is so obstinately nostalgic that it rushes headlong past Charming and instead crashes right into So What. Good news, though: you get 14 songs in 30 minutes, making this my winner for More Concise Album Of The Year.

Mayhem -- Daemon
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MayhemDaemon

★☆☆☆ Look, I get it: Mayhem deserve at least a modicum of respect for birthing Norwegian black metal, and their general commitment to evil and whatnot. The problem is that this feels like Mayhem imitating themselves, or going through the paces. There are interesting and fun moments, but they’re too few and far between, especially for an album that’s entirely too long (a solid hour with two "bonus" tracks).

Despised Icon -- Purgatory
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Despised IconPurgatory

★★★☆ Just plumb mad dog mean deathcore. This album ticks all boxes for any and every trope you could ever want from the genre (and then some), but the interplay, timing, and pacing of it all lead to a cohesive masterclass in aggression. What it lacks in memorability, the album more than makes up for with unbridled energy.

Cannabis Corpse -- Nug So Vile
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Cannabis CorpseNug So Vile

★★★☆ Long-time readers are no doubt aware of my blatant fanaticism over this band, so it’s no easy thing to say that this is not my favorite Cannabis Corpse album. The production in particular feels like a step backward. Also, as much as I’d gotten comfortable with how far the band are willing to stray from their jokey origins, I hadn’t prepared myself for the idea of them trending a little less seriously here.

Nile -- Vile Nilotic Rites
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NileVile Nilotic Rites

★★☆☆ A very consistent and satisfying slab of Egyptian-themed brütal tech death, which makes it an improvement over "What Should Not Be Unearthed." Kudos in particular go to Mike Breazeale and Brian Kingsland, who ably fill the vocal and guitar voids respectively left by the departure of long-term mainstay Dallas Toler-Wade.

Rings Of Saturn -- Gidim
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Rings Of SaturnGidim

★★☆☆ Putting aside the various controversies that have plagued Lucas Mann and Rings Of Saturn for years, this technical deathcore album on its own merits is… okay. The most impactful parts, of course, are the sources of said controversies: the (possibly literal) inhuman performances, the clear substitutions for software over musicianship, and the at-times all-too-familiar riffs.