The Armed -- Ultrapop
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The ArmedUltrapop

✦✦✧✧ Former Arsies winners The Armed return with yet another slab of performance art (noise) that is about as metal as The Mars Volta or Boris, which is to say: tangentially. Still, Ultrapop hits my ears as subjectively more interesting than its predecessor Only Love. Pitchfork loves this album, so there’s that.

Ice Nine Kills -- Welcome To Horrorwood
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Ice Nine KillsWelcome To Horrorwood

✦✦✧✧ I like the idea of a metal album inspired by a collection of horror flicks (Child’s Play, Hellraiser, Candyman) as much as the next guy. And I have a surprisingly high tolerance for radio-friendly melodic metalcore. Together, they feel at odds with each other, the music’s J-Pop tendencies clashing with and belying the subject matter’s demands for gross heaviness.

Iron Maiden -- Senjutsu
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Iron MaidenSenjutsu

✦✦✧✧ I was going to come right out and heap praise on Bruce’s vocals, but honestly everyone sounds great here. Not a single member of the band are phoning it in. That said, 80 minutes is a big investment in an album that doesn’t offer many iconic moments or hooks. Also, is it a concept album about board games?

Carcass -- Torn Arteries
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CarcassTorn Arteries

✦✦✧✧ Torn Arteries is fun enough, and yet it feels like a slight step downward from the more entertaining 2020 EP Despicable. All the elements you’d hope for are here: the dual vocals of Bill Steer and Jeff Walker, the deft guitars and rumbling bass, the clever riff salad. But there’s a laidbackness to the whole album, a simmer that never quite progresses to a full boil.

Twelve Foot Ninja -- Vengeance
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Twelve Foot NinjaVengeance

✦✦✧✧ This is an ambitious yet ultimately upsetting album. I generally admire bands who make a practice of blending disparate styles together, although in retrospect the unspoken aim is usually for some kind of cohesion. Here, it feels more like self-indulgent whiplash for abuse’s sake, like a meaner Mr. Bungle. The music defies the listener to settle into any particular mood.

Korpiklaani -- Jylhä
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KorpiklaaniJylhä

✦✦✧✧ Finnish folk beerhall music at its finest, which touches of extreme and power metal. The lack of any English lyrics may be a drawback, but I’ve enjoyed plenty of American metal that was equally as indecipherable. Why this album is an hour long is beyond me, though.