Pig Destroyer -- Head Cage
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Pig DestroyerHead Cage

★★★☆ This is not exactly what I came to expect from Pig Destroyer. It’s oddly accessible… for a grindcore boot to the teeth. It’s also full of hints at a (dare I say) progressive streak running under the surface, if not quite erupting right on the skin. More than anything, this makes me excited for the next thing PD put out.

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.

Baptists -- Beacon Of Faith
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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
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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
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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
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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.