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.

Skinlab -- Venomous
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SkinlabVenomous

★★★☆ Skinlab walk the thin line between revigoration and rehash, with just enough nu-metalisms to remind you who you’re dealing with (without the whole thing sounding dated). Most interestingly, there’s also enough shared DNA here with heavy acts like Tombs, Machine Head, and even Sepultura to make this music sound both familiar and novel.

Jinjer -- Macro
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JinjerMacro

★★★☆ The secret to this album is the free experimentation that Jinjer indulge in. The result reminds me of Destrage with less examples of inhuman shredding. But don’t worry: you’ll still get your Periphery, SikTh, and Mudvayne fix. It’s kinda nuts that Jinjer put out two excellent albums this year; crazier still that this latter release is the better of the two.

BABYMETAL -- METAL GALAXY
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BABYMETALMETAL GALAXY

★★☆☆ It’s ironic that an album that starts with a track titled “FUTURE METAL” trades so heavily in clichéd tropes. The metal gems on here are fewer and farther between the increased reliance on J-Pop, and honestly most of this album sounds like the soundtrack to Beat Saber… but don’t sleep on truly interesting and fun tracks like “Elevator Girl” or “Night Night Burn!”