The Ocean -- Phanerozoic I_ Palaezoic
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The OceanPhanerozoic I: Palaezoic

★★☆☆ While I applaud Robin Staps and his voracious creativity, this time around the result feels less focused and enthralling. The music starts out in solidly familiar territory, but then veers into post-metal, sounding at times like Deftones and A Perfect Circle. You would think this would be a good thing; I’m just not sure it is.

Revocation -- The Outer Ones
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RevocationThe Outer Ones

★★☆☆ On one level, this is every bit what you’d expect from a Revocation album: unabashed virtuosity in the most fun metal ways imaginable. On another level, the album laudably goes for a wide assortment of musical genres (rethrash, death metal, grind), but does not particularly stick this landings very well.

Haken -- Vector
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HakenVector

★★☆☆ It’s a weird thing to hear a band try to be simultaneously accessible and fucking weird. In Haken’s hands, it comes across like an awkward fusion of Leprous and Muse. By now, the band have made the logical evolution from 80s-inspired prog metal to a metal-and-synthwave melange of influences. Just about the solitary cohesive element here is almost pathological usage of odd time signatures, which sometimes work out just fine, but often wind up euthanizing the material’s sense of flow or momentum.

Beyond Creation -- Algorythm
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Beyond CreationAlgorythm

★★★☆ As to be expected, this BC album starts out sounding primarily like a showcase for fretless bassmanship. (Playing to the judge? I’ll allow it.) And while I’m talking about the bass, I need to highlight that “newcomer” Hugo Doyon-Karout more than fills his predecessor’s shoes. But the album quickly shifts gears into a more nuanced form of technical death metal, jazzier and more inventive than before.

Gorod -- Aethra
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GorodAethra

★★★☆ Three years since their last album, Gorod return with a more honed approach. Their sound now is still solid technodeath, but with a renewed commitment to songcraft. The band wields a more diverse palette this time around, channelling Gojira, Revocation, and early Mastodon… while simultaneously reining in their prior self-indulgences.