The Pretty Black Chains — Awakening 

The act makes it clear from the first second of the album, which kicks off with Derek Knowlton’s heavy riff from “Let Me In” and pours on the guitar from there on out. Fans of the six-string will find much to love in tunes from the fuzzed-out “Lovers” to the ’90s-influenced runs of “Thorny Crown”; the members of the four-piece have become unabashed guitaraholics.

Despite the genre switch, the swagger of frontman Kellen McGugan has not changed, as he still howls and hollers his way through the tunes. The frantic title track is the best example of this, as McGugan alternately preens, roars and whips his voice around. The title track also stands out as a composition, with several distinct parts, tempos and moods. The powerful guitar work, as with everywhere else, drives the song through the changes.

But it’s not all six-string fury; the six-minute “Color of a Tomb” gives a feature to bassist Jonathan Martin. The change-up makes it one of the most memorable on the album, which is saying something: Guitar fanatics of almost any age and preference will find all of “Awakening” admirable. —Stephen Carradini

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