Baptists -- Beacon Of Faith

BaptistsBeacon Of Faith

★★★☆ This 38-minute collection of 13 post-hardcore songs is like a punch to the face. Effective and energetic, well-paced, with just enough innovation and variability to avoid tedium (the Jesus-Lizard-tinged “Capsule” and Isis-like dirge of “Eulogy Template” are two of my favorite moments).

Between The Buried And Me -- Automata II

Between The Buried And MeAutomata II

★★★☆ This is the btbamiest album that BTBAM has ever made. Musically, the band have never been in finer form. But in terms of songwriting, “Automata II” reverses the trend toward self-restraint, and gives over to pure self-indulgence. Whereas the first album broke away from both traditional prog metal and classic prog, this album more blatantly evokes Dream Theater and Boston, for good and for ill.

At The Gates -- To Drink From The Night Itself

At The GatesTo Drink From The Night Itself

★★★☆ The ancient kings of Gothenburg are back, sounding as polished, virtuosic, and driving as ever. And yet, there’s not a lot hear we haven’t heard before. Even as the band nudges their formula here and there, the result is evocative of other melodeath staples (and more often than not, it’s evocative of other bands in post-heyday form; I’m looking at you, The Haunted and In Flames).

ASG -- Survive Sunrise

ASGSurvive Sunrise

★★★☆ This is as good as a stoner metal album can get in 2018 without being great. It’s fantastic that an early progenitor of the subgenre can still sound vigorous and vital, gently expanding the envelope even as they run deeper ruts into the old familiar paths. And yet, there’s something so damned familiar and been-there-done-that about the whole thing.

Akhenaten -- Golden Serpent God

AkhenatenGolden Serpent God

★★★☆ This death metal band from Colorado wear their Middle Eastern Egyptologist schtick on their sleeves in a big way. This seems far too obvious at first, too on the nose. But it grows on you fast: not only do Akhenaten show that there’s still unplumbed depths to the connection between Middle Eastern music modes and technical death metal, but there’s also something adorable about how committed they are to their sound.

Micawber -- Beyond The Reach Of Flame

MicawberBeyond The Reach Of Flame

★★★☆ A subtly interesting album, evincing a rethrashed form of progressive tech death album, with hints of Revocation, Black Dahlia Murder, Job For A Cowboy, and even Control Denied. Just when you think you know where it’s going, it throws a curveball. If there’s a downside here, it’s that it trades immediacy for memorability.