Lovebites – Electric Pentagram: Make some noise! Raise some hell!

Artist: Lovebites
Album: Electric Pentagram
Year: 2020
Grade: B

In Brief: 70 minutes of non-stop Japanese power metal might seem like a daunting prospect… and honestly, it would be if I wasn’t already enamored with this band from a previous album. But listen beyond the consistently fast tempos, the insanely technical solos that seem to be a requirement in every single song, and the predictably anthemic choruses, and there’s actually quite a bit more variety here than meets the eye. This is one of those records where I’d actually be hard pressed to point out weak links – the songs all range from good to great in quality. But perhaps a breather or two is advisable, rather than trying to take it all in at once (unless of course you’re a die-hard metalhead who just can’t get enough of that sort of thing).

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Tool – Fear Inoculum: Warriors Struggling to Remain Consequential

Artist: Tool
Album: Fear Inoculum
Year: 2019
Grade: C+

In Brief: I hate to be so ho-hum about a band’s first album back after a 13-year hiatus, but Tool is far more simmer than boil on this one. The band’s jammy, exploratory side has taken over, but their ability to be hard-hitting and thought-provoking has mostly taken a back seat to their insatiable need to drag every track out to 10+ minutes. It’s exhausting, and not in the immersive and fascinating way that Lateralus once was.

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Lovebites – Clockwork Immortality: I won’t become a doll you control.

Artist: Lovebites
Album: Clockwork Immortality
Year: 2018
Grade: B+

In Brief: This all-female power metal band from Japan may not have reinvented the genre in any meaningful way, but they play the hell out of their instruments and have a ton of fun doing it. At the end of the day, I can’t fault them for that – especially when the end result puts such a massive smile on my face.

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Evanescence: End of the Dream, or, Evanescence Falls into a Bottomless Pit of Clichés

2011_Evanescence_Evanescence

Artist: Evanescence
Album: Evanescence
Year: 2011
Grade: C-

In Brief: Thoroughly average outside of a few fleeting moments of excitement. I defended Evanescence back when everyone thought they were formulaic in the old days, but now I no longer can.

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