Ihsahn -- Ámr
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IhsahnÁmr

★★★☆ This is a subtler work from Ihsahn (which is funny, because the album starts out with this huge-ass synth patch that sounds anything but subtle). The epic power comes from the impeccable arrangements and production, featuring the lushest strings I’ve heard in metal in a long time. The songwriting is a bit “safer” than that on “Arktis,” but Ihsahn still delivers solid doubles throughout, if not actual home runs.

Inferi -- Revenant
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InferiRevenant

★★★☆ Epic technical death metal that utterly shreds in the moment, but somewhat fails to stick in one’s memory. Also, it goes on and on and on. Still, it’s blistering and super impressive. These guys definitely put in the work (there’s probably something like a quarter million notes on this album, no exaggeration)!

TesseracT -- Sonder
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TesseracTSonder

★★★☆ TesseracT have expanded their emotional resonance on their fourth album, but the price is a somewhat lessened emphasis on their foundational djent. The sacrifice isn’t too dear, as the songs don’t spend too much time away from the band’s bread and butter. Speaking of time, I wish this album was longer; as it is, it is evocative of their debut EP “One” for brevity.

Nekrogoblikon -- Welcome to Bonkers
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NekrogoblikonWelcome to Bonkers

★★★☆ This reminds me of Scatterbrain, and BTBAM, and of course goblins. There is an unsubtle goofiness here, although it’s self-aware, joyous, and purehearted in its silly purity (something I could never say of cringeworthy Steel Panther, for example). If you can embrace the obvious goofiness of the band’s conceit, you’ll be rewarded with some objectively technical melodeath.

The Sword -- Used Future
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The SwordUsed Future

★★★☆ This sixth album from The Sword continues the band’s progression from frantic Mastodon territory to more of a laidback Earthless vibe, while giving us the band’s most cohesive sonic landscape since 2010′s “Warp Riders.” If anything, “Used Future” marks a doubling down on the band wearing their 70s and 80s influences on their sleeves (there are obvious nods here to Santana, Skynyrd, John Carpenter, Pink Floyd, The Dead, etc.).