Author & Punisher – Beastland

Tristan Shone’s industrial doom project Author & Punisher is easily one of the most unique acts on the current landscape of extreme music; while many acts proudly identify as a “one-man band,” Shone’s array of handmade instruments and impeccable limb independence allows him to weave songs together by himself without relying on backtracks to get the job done, borrowing musical cues from the likes of Neurosis, Godflesh, and Helmet in the process. Leaning heavily into drone and doom on initial releases, Shone’s musical palette and production know-how have broadened the dynamic considerably.

Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained

After finally listening to Kingdoms Disdained, its clear that guitarist Trey Azagthoth’s deterioration as a songwriter has been a key, unaddressed factor that’s affected Morbid Angel’s recent output. While he may have written some of death metal’s greatest riffs during the band’s heyday, Kingdoms Disdained is the best case study thus far in terms of demonstrating Azagthoth’s slipping capability as the driving force of Morbid Angel’s sound. It was easy to overlook Heretic given how generally forgettable it was, and the predominant critiques of Illud Divinum Insanus revolved more around the band’s decision making than anything else. But now that Morbid Angel have entered into the perfect setup for a successful comeback, it’s difficult to overlook how complacent Azagthoth’s songwriting is across the entirety of Kingdoms Disdained. There’s no denying the album is an incomparable improvement over their industrial metal excursions, but it’s also difficult to avoid comparing the album’s aggressively average delivery with the milestone records that have preceded it in the band’s discography

Cavalera Conspiracy – Psychosis

Psychosis has come out during a period when it seems the Cavalera name is more visible and relevant to the metal world than it has been in a long time. The iconic Max Cavalera appeared to have hit his post-Sepultura peak with the back-to-back release of Dark Ages (2005) and Inflikted (2008)—the later of which saw him reuniting with estranged brother Igor and the establishment of the Cavalera Conspiracy. From there, however, it seemed Cavalera senior was content to churn out a steady flow of serviceable yet largely unremarkable Soulfly records, while each of Cavalera Conspiracy’s subsequent releases—though certainly each embedded with their own distinct personality—failed to excite in the same manner as their masterful debut. Yet, beginning with 2014’s superb supergroup collaboration, Killer Be Killed, Max’s career looks to be, once again, on the upswing, and Psychosis only further supports such speculation.