YOB -- Our Raw Heart
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YOBOur Raw Heart

★★☆☆ YOB’s vocals are much improved this time around, but the band’s plodding stoner metal is as deliberate and singleminded as ever. On some tracks, like “Beauty In Falling Leaves,” this pays off. For other tracks, the material feels underdeveloped, evincing a run-this-one-riff-into-the-ground approach.

Alice In Chains -- Rainier Fog
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Alice In ChainsRainier Fog

★★☆☆ I give props to AIC for continuing to be even halfway relevant. And this album has more grit and snarl than one would reasonably expect from the band. And there are a number of very cool riffs and motifs throughout the album. The pity is that, at the same time, the songs here feel/sound like they’re under a thick blanket.

Obscura -- Diluvium
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ObscuraDiluvium

★★☆☆ Obscura have teetered over into full-blown Cynic mode. Gone is the hitherto casual-at-best relationship the band had with song structure. Instead, “Diluvium” is an all-you-can-eat riff salad bar, with not much deference given to pacing or flow. The band are great at what they do, but this is one trying listen.

Aborted -- TerrorVision
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AbortedTerrorVision

★★☆☆ This is as over-the-top as anything Aborted have ever given us. It’s also all over the fucking map, which is problematic. The band is at their best when they hew closely to their technical grindcore wheelhouse, but there’s enough other stuff in here to dilute the former’s efficacy.

Bad Wolves -- Disobey
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Bad WolvesDisobey

★★☆☆ I’m always prepared for a metal supergroup to sound more or less like an amalgam of its constituent parts. What I wasn’t ready for is the idea of a supergroup sound like a blend of a bunch of other bands not at all related to its members. And yet what you get with Bad Wolves is an awkward fusion of Sepultura, The Acacia Strain, Vildhjarta, Tremonti, and Linkin Park.

Ghost -- Prequelle
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GhostPrequelle

★★☆☆ This time around, Ghost are emulating The Scorps more than anyone else, which fits I guess; I don’t fault them for emerging from their latest personnel changeup with a little less Satanism, and sounding a little more stadium rock instead. The tunes are still catchy, the guitars still polished and appropriate, but all of this is harder to care that much about.