Omnium Gatherum -- The Burning Cold
avatar

Omnium GatherumThe Burning Cold

★★☆☆ After a treacly intro, OG deliver another solid suite of melodeath. There’s not a lot of envelope pushing here, which is not surprising for this band. Still, strong musicianship and standard-setting catchiness are coupled with tasty riffs in a way that proves that the formula still works well enough to get the job done.

Immortal -- Northern Chaos Gods
avatar

ImmortalNorthern Chaos Gods

★★☆☆ Can Immortal still bring the frostbitten fury after parting ways with Abbath? Yep: this is classic Norwegian black metal, with all the wind-whipped ferocity you remember from albums past. Therein lies the rub: there’s not a whole lot newness here, and the album does feel a bit by-the-numbers. Still, this is a lovingly produced testament to an important band that still has plenty of bite.

The Ocean -- Phanerozoic I_ Palaezoic
avatar

The OceanPhanerozoic I: Palaezoic

★★☆☆ While I applaud Robin Staps and his voracious creativity, this time around the result feels less focused and enthralling. The music starts out in solidly familiar territory, but then veers into post-metal, sounding at times like Deftones and A Perfect Circle. You would think this would be a good thing; I’m just not sure it is.

Revocation -- The Outer Ones
avatar

RevocationThe Outer Ones

★★☆☆ On one level, this is every bit what you’d expect from a Revocation album: unabashed virtuosity in the most fun metal ways imaginable. On another level, the album laudably goes for a wide assortment of musical genres (rethrash, death metal, grind), but does not particularly stick this landings very well.

Haken -- Vector
avatar

HakenVector

★★☆☆ It’s a weird thing to hear a band try to be simultaneously accessible and fucking weird. In Haken’s hands, it comes across like an awkward fusion of Leprous and Muse. By now, the band have made the logical evolution from 80s-inspired prog metal to a metal-and-synthwave melange of influences. Just about the solitary cohesive element here is almost pathological usage of odd time signatures, which sometimes work out just fine, but often wind up euthanizing the material’s sense of flow or momentum.

YOB -- Our Raw Heart
avatar

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.