Capricorns, River, Bear Your Bones (Rise Above). Londoners Nathan Bennett and Kevin Williams know their math as well as any guitarists working the arithmetical metal scene, but they avoid getting so deeply into theoretical abstraction that their creations become inaccessible to anyone other than themselves. "Broken Coffin of the Venerable King" is one of many tracks here that work as well viscerally as intellectually. — Roberts
Darker My Love, 2 (Dangerbird). Psychedelia would seem to be among the musical forms most likely to seem dated, but damned if new-generation bands don't keep finding fascinating ways to trip out. On "Blue Day" and the best of the other cuts here, Tim Presley and his fellow Los Angelenos give a contemporaneity to their ringing guitars, echoey vocals and general spaciness. — Roberts
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Extreme, Saudades de Rock (Open Records). With the first couple of tracks, the half-flippant, spunky pop sound that briefly landed singer Gary Cherone in Van Halen is easily identified. The gag soon runs thin, though, and what's left is a band that writes good, catchy songs that quickly become distractions because of Nuno Bettencourt's excessive guitar antics. — Brandon Daviet
GZA/Genius, Pro Tools (Babygrande). With Liquid Swords, Wu-Tang's most eloquent MC created one of the most enduring of the Clan's solo joints. Until now, he's never reproduced that raw magic. Even though the title suggests the overproduction he's struggled with in the past, his fifth disc recaptures the vibrancy expected from the Shaolin wordsmith. — Daviet
Roy Orbison, The Soul of Rock and Roll (Legacy Recordings). No songwriter becomes a legend without some early misfires, and this four-CD history lesson shows that the velvet-voiced crooner was no exception. The real gems here are tracks with the Traveling Wilburys, k.d. lang and cuts from various movie soundtracks. The unreleased early tracks should have stayed in the vaults. — Daviet
Santana, Multi Dimensional Warrior (Epic Records). Carlos Santana has hands that were clearly blessed by the mystics. Even so, his playing can sometimes seem superfluous, as it does on this personally selected retrospective featuring one disc of songs with vocals and one without. Bonus: The song "Smooth" is not included. — Daviet