Havok -- V
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HavokV

★★☆☆ This album is 100% rethrash with solid performances. Fans of Powermad and Metal Church will definitely love this. The production is crisp, although hollow sounding (but I guess that makes sense as an improvement from vintage thrash). Still, I’d prefer more of an Overkill approach to the sound. At least you can hear the bass here!

Kirk Windstein -- Dream In Motion
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Kirk WindsteinDream In Motion

★★☆☆ Crowbar’s founder and frontman finally puts out a solo album, to… free himself of the shackles of accessibility? I kid, because this is actually a really interesting and cohesive album that’s more experimental and emotionally well-rounded than you might expected, coming from a sludge standardbearer.

Old Man Gloom -- Seminar IX: Darkness Of Being
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Old Man GloomSeminar IX: Darkness Of Being

★★☆☆ Be careful what you wish for: Seminar IX does indeed have less noise-filler and more musical content, but the songs here are not as solid as the ones on Seminar IX. It also feels less like OMG and more like, well, Mutoid Man or Cave-In, frankly. I can respect the band’s commitment to underdeveloped song ideas; it’s just not for me.

Five Finger Death Punch -- F8
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Five Finger Death PunchF8

★★☆☆ I was prepared to thoroughly hate this, give FFDP’s most recent missteps. But this groove metal album is the least offensive thing the band has made in years! It’s too manicured to evoke real rage, but it’s appropriately big and epic, albeit overlong. Give it a shot, I say; you might be surprised!

Liturgy -- H.A.Q.Q
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LiturgyH.A.Q.Q.

★★☆☆ Merry Christmas! I got you a present… assuming of course that you are a fan of cacophonous, shrill, self-indulgent lunacy. Liturgy’s avant-black-metal is tempered here with digital frippery and all manner of orchestral instruments (sampled or otherwise) that have no business near an amplifier. This album is just begging me to give it a 1-star review.