Pelican -- Nighttime Stories
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PelicanNighttime Stories

★☆☆☆ Less entertaining than the band’s prior album "Forever Becoming," this collection of instrumental sludgy post-metal songs asks too much indulgence in its aimlessness. I’m sure I’d like it a lot more if I was baked out of my fucking skull, but that should be a value-add, not a requirement.

Witherfall -- Vintage
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WitherfallVintage

★☆☆☆ "Vintage" is right; this album feels stuck in time, comprised of a lot of ill-fitting parts. The slop-like production only makes things worse, but the bigger problem is a poor sense of pacing, seemingly in service of mood but actually the album’s biggest enemy.

Gruesome -- Twisted Prayers
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GruesomeTwisted Prayers

★☆☆☆ The good news is that this is often a spot-on homage to Death (specifically, the classic album “Spiritual Healing”). And when Gruesome is in this Tribute Mode (as they largely were on their debut album “Savage Land,” you had a sense of extrapolation into something both old and new. The bad news is that, more often than not, the music on this new album feels like the band simply took Spiritual Healing sheet music, put it in a shredder, taped the scraps back together, traveled from Orlando to Tampa (and from 2018 to 1989), found Scott Burns, and got him to record it.

Parkway Drive -- Reverence
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Parkway DriveReverence

★☆☆☆ Everything goes well until the vocals start; the wah-wah just seals the nu-metal-core deal. In the album’s defense, there are some meaty riffs undergirding the whole affair. Unfortunately, they’re deployed in the service of an outmoded and adolescent sensibility. What a waste.