Top 20 Extended Play List 2012
Extended play releases, or EPs are something we leave off our yearly 50 Best Metal Albums lists. However, that doesn’t mean we lack love and respect for them. They just need to be shown alongside others of their stature. One wouldn’t think that there are that many EPs released each year, but in the world of digital downloads and short attention spans, the number is growing, and many bands are completely getting away from full length albums.
Metalholic tasked two of its writers, Jeffrey Allee and Rustyn Rose, to come up with a list of the Top 10 EPs of 2012, and go figure, neither came up with even one of the same albums. So here we give you each writer’s Top 10–20 in all: Head to Head, audiophile to audiophile to audiophile, Allee vs. Rose.
Let the debates begin!
You would think this would end up on my top list, but it has. This progressive pop metal band was a last minute release and I’m glad that I waited to hear what these guys had in store for everyone. The female vocals hit well with my tastes, adding a whole new dimension in most cases. The instrumental work is also astounding, considering the pop factor (that tends to keep instrumentals to a minimum). You’ll hear a bit of a Devin Townsend influence as well (they did a cover of “Supercrush”, it sounds great). I see these guys going places.
You can’t ever go wrong with Christian Alvestam. With his impressive resume, you shouldn’t have a doubt that this EP wouldn’t make it somewhere on the top charts. Be warned however, there are very miniscule elements of metal in this. Christian decides to go a little bit more poppier with a few songs, almost like you’re in the 80’s again. This isn’t a bad quality though, as everything he does sounds amazing.
If you want to get punched in the face, try out this release. This band has been around for a while, but they recently re-surfaced after somewhat of a dry spell with a release that won’t disappoint those that want death metal with attitude. Beyond Mortal Dreams is everything good about the genre. It doesn’t go stale and you’ll want to repeat this EP many times before you feel totally satisfied. They’re going to be releasing a full length album next year, so the top albums of 2013 may already have a contender.
Desolate Dreams is another pure instrumental outfit, but differs quite a bit from the norm that has been set in the genre (and the norm usually sucks). Desolate Dreams combines the elements of Chimp Spanner, Intervals, and adds somewhat of a jazzy feel to things to make an EP that takes you all over the place without causing your brain to explode. I haven’t listened to an EP like this at all this year, even compared to other instrumental albums.
Viking themed folk metal fused with a bit of skater-ish punk. Yep, you read that right. I was a little bit hesitant to listen to it as well, but to be honest it has become one of my favorite EPs this year. The energy is unmatched and the mix of genres provides a breath of fresh air. Frost Giant creates a lasting impression, at least on me, and hopefully they do the same for you. Break out of the norm a bit and try these guys out.
Metalcore makes another appearance on my lists. This time it isn’t exactly along the lines of melodic. Circle of Contempt brings many fierce and elegant features in this latest work. They go on to use quite a few electronic elements that somehow create an atmosphere and enhance the “epic” experience even further. Add a bit of complexity to this concoction and you come up with a solid, way above average effort. I am really hoping to see these guys create a full length album in the near future, especially if they use the same formulas present here.
If you’re into progressive death metal or melodic death metal, these dudes won’t let you down. Another EP that surprised the hell out of me, especially since the band only formed this year. From the musicianship to the production, you’re constantly assaulted by great things. I can’t wait to see the full length album these guys can come up with.
Think of Carach Angren but more so in the progressive metal genre. The storytelling in this release is amazing, and the execution is just as good. Ovid’s Withering is another band that is trying to take it to the next level and constantly improve those around them. If you’re into mythology and themed tunes, you won’t be disappointed by these guys. The sheer power from this band is some of the most impressive I’ve seen in awhile.
Heavy metal makes a comeback with this awesome EP release. Fury is a band from the UK that fuses melodic thrash elements with some of that old school heavy metal (NWOBHM) that comes to be some of the catchiest stuff I’ve heard all year. New and old school metallers will definitely enjoy this release, especially those that love guitar solos and the ever so popular headbanging moments. They are working on some cool projects in 2013, and I’m hoping they remain as consistent as they have been these past couple years.
A pure instrumental album that doesn’t disappoint. I’ve heard quite a few of these types of albums, but Chimp Spanner executes this new release almost flawlessly. Instead of constant use of “djent”, repeated rhythms, and a sound that just seems to remain constant, Chimp Spanner pulls out all the stops by doing the opposite of this. His guitar work sends you to another state of mind, almost as if you’re flying. When a musician can send you to another place like this, you can’t help but give them the recognition they deserve.
First I must bow to Scion A/V who made many of the EPs below available as FREE downloads.
Aside from his work with T&N this year, guitar legend, George Lynch cut out a little slice of hard rock heaven for his namesake band, Lynch Mob. It’s only four tracks, but listening to George unleash his furious fingers is always a joy and we’ll take what we can get. As always, Oni Logan supplies the dynamic vocals, and original Lynch Mob bassist, Robbie Crane (Ratt) returns to the fold.
What a massive year for C.O.C. with the release of their new self-titled album, followed by the re-release of the debut album, Eye For An Eye, and of course this FREE EP through Scion A/V, Megalodon. The 5-song EP picks up where this year’s self-titled album left off with perhaps more of a southern bent to it.
From France come the oft pretentious experimental black metal outfit that seeks asylum within its collective id. Deathspell Omega has taken listeners into the depths of cold, bleak despair, leaving the mind to wander hither and yon in search of a higher, or darker plain. Lest one begin suffering from intellect neglect of course. Drought is just the next entry into this chasm of atmospheric cerebellum gazing through atonality and syncopation. WTF did he just say? Who knows? Who cares? Just lay back and crack your cranium for this one.
Fronted by Layla Brooklyn Allman, California melodic metalcore upstarts, Picture Me Broken are set to own 2013. They have set the stage with their December 18 Mannequins EP release, which gives a decidedly wicked taste of what is to come on the forthcoming full-length, Corrupt Me, due out next spring. It’s Allman’s goal to instigate the resurgence of grandiosity and mystique to rock and roll. The band’s sound recalls In This Moment meets Black Veil Brides, but that description is an oversimplification. The talent exists here for something huge, and they are just getting started. Jump on now and enjoy the ride.
Catch our interview with Brooklyn Allman
Washington’s sludge punk altsters, The Melvins gave fans The Bulls and The Bees back in March. The five track EP was released in partnership with Scion A/V. Buzz Osborne and company have given us very whimsical and light-heartened punky dance of sludgy doom: Dual drums delight, big vocals bellow, and thick riffs flex.Yeah all that in five tracks. Dual drums, bellowing vocals, and muscular riffs abound. Like the cheap whores they are, the quartet are just giving it away.
Get it HERE or jump on this sexy link: http://scionav.com/index#!collection/917/The-Melvins—The-Bulls–The-Bees
Agalloch is genius. Yes, I said it. The Oregon-based atmospheric doomsters create brilliant albums that never waver in-depth even when they push new boundaries of the band’s signature sound. More to the point, they save the truly experimental stuff for EPs such as Faustian Echoes, where all manner of envelopes can be pushed, pulled and decimated in pursuit of auditory bliss. This 21-minute EP offers only the title track–one song. Black metal ambiance with a folktale backdrop: Nice.
Listening to a Revocation EP is like moshing in an elevator–you know the trip is going to be a short one, but there’s no way you’re getting out without a broken rib and some blood loss. Enter Teratogenesis; fiver blistering tracks of caustic mayhem. While some take exception to David Davidson’s sporadic semi-clean vocal work, I happen to think it works quite nicely. Davidson’s shreds and tight riffing dance from intricate patterns to absolutely spastic which makes for a glorious cacophony of sonic delirium. Five songs = five sick new pieces of grey-matter scraping ear candy. Once again Scion A/V is offering this aural earwig up for FREE.
My love affair with these Denver retro-thrashers continues. The band is currently writing new music for a 2013 release, but 2012 offered this four song headbangers orgy. The four songs here offer a divine slice of vicious attitude, corrosive vocals and riff-happy buggering. That’s right, metal up yer arse, the old school way. Havok carries the torch on two new songs, the title track and “Cradle To the Grave”: Brilliant? No. But certainly mosh-worthy body bruisers. Then the guys give us two mighty tributes with covers of Sepultura‘s “Arise” and Slayer‘s “Postmortem/Raining Blood”. Balls the size of grapefruits my friends. And yes, damnit, they can squeeze ’em with pride, for they have done the masters justice here.
Vocalist Phil Anselmo announced a year ago that the long-awaited Down IV would be coming to fans a chunk at a time. With the weight of The Purple EP, perhaps it is a good idea to get it in small doses lest in crush our necks. Rex Brown is gone, but Crowbar bassist Pat Bruders slips in quite nicely, joining Anselmo (Pantera), drummer Jimmy Bower and guitarists Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity) and Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow). Part 1 is the first of a proposed four-part beast, and it’s an absolutely devastating return for the band. They kept it close to the vest, self-producing and recording at Anselmo’s home studio, Nosferatu’s Lair. “Witchtripper” is like a sonic tattoo you can’t get rid of.
When all else fails go back to your roots, the drawing board, or whatever clichéd euphemism you wish to use. Virginia’s melodic technical death metal contingent has been all over the board since releasing it’s masterful 2004 debut, A Celebration of Guilt. The band’s sound has been an evolving morass, and the line-up has been a revolving door, but with Lepers Caress, founder/guitarist/vocalist James Malone has gone back the brutality and beauty he first spawned. Blistering riffs, crushing blast beats, and raw aggression offer hope and a hint that 2013’s Unwelcome will be a statement record for the band. The best part, once again, is that Scion A/V is offering this tasty morsel for the Grinchly price of just $0.00 and an email address. Grab it here.