Week Three starts now, with Toothgrinder (who won the coin toss). Nocturnal Masquerade is a quirky, refreshing collection of progressive yet listenable tech death tunes. As the album unfolds, there's a steady and enjoyable interplay between meaty metal and accessible melody, a cadence that's sustained throughout the whole album. There's also great musicianship throughout. And yet, there's something about the music here that's a little torturous and hard to get behind.
On the other hand, Painted Wives' Obsessed With The End sounds at first blush to be a retread of a variety of bygone sounds; if you miss the velvety nasal vocal stylings of Layne Staley, this is certainly the album for you. But while that remains true, there's also a subversively clever strain here that endures once you get past the superficial reminiscence. This album has a moody and somber heart, but it's also accessible and enthralling, with equally strong musicianship and songwriting.
Both albums are catchy, rockin', and flawed. But there's a slightly elevated trajectory, a more welcome memorability, and a rewarding replayability to Obsessed With The End, that gives it a hint of an edge over Nocturnal Masquerade. It wasn't easy, but Painted Wives wins the battle by a nose.
Tomorrow, Vektor and Kvelertak compete on the path to metal glory!