Sunday, December 16, 2012

Top 10 EPs of 2012

The use of the EP is as important for an established act as it is for an up and coming star. A shorter offering gives you a chance to give your listeners a taste of what is to come, or merely just show off what you have been working on, without the need for ten or twelve tracks. These ten short form offerings were the best that 2012 had to offer, and make the possibility of some great full lengths in 2013 seem all the more likely.

10. The Deadstation - Episode 01: Like Peering Into The Deepest Ocean Abyss.
Having already made our list of top new artists of the year, it is no surprise that this progressive metal band from outside of Boston makes another appearance here. With seven tracks that run the gauntlet from avant to heavy, this is a record that is sure to please some of the more finicky fans.

9. Pursuing The End - Withering
After the success of their debut full length, Italian symphonic metal newcomers Pursuing The End wasted no time getting back in the studio, but with a grandiose vision. Ramping up their use of orchestral instruments and layered vocals, the short form opera of "Withering" was a revelation for many, including us. If this is the start of something bigger, we may be looking at the future of the genre.

8. Kalidia - Dance Of The Four Winds
While the whole must be better than the sum of its pieces, a few extra strong links in the chain are always a plus. Frontwoman Nicoletta Rosellini has the voice of an angel, and elevates a band that is already playing at a high level. With barely two years under their belts, Kalidia have proven to be a major player in the Italian power metal scene.

7. Maelstrom - The Passage/Change Of Season
One man, one band. Ferdinando Valsecchi is a visionary more than he is a musician. With two EPs out this year, it made sense to lump them together and give credit where credit is due. Over both offerings, Valsecchi shows a command of all things melody and dark, with touches of light springing up throughout. Call it post rock, post metal, or instrumental atmospheric post whatever, this is beauty in musical form.

6. Unleash The Archers - Defy The Skies
Things can't always stay the same; sometimes music needs to evolve. Unleash The Archers have found a place at the top of the new wave of power metal, but bringing along the harsher elements of black and death metal for the ride. Frontwoman Brittney Slayes isn't playing the role of the delicate flower in a field of weeds. She is the queen of a new movement; one that would make Doro proud.

5. Arke - EP One
Want to know how good Arke is? Their "Shatner" EP made our mid-year best of list, despite being released two years prior. It makes perfect sense for their latest offering, the four song "EP One" to takes its rightful place on our year end list. With tremendous grooves, blaring distortion, and one of the best beards and guitarists in modern metal, care of Taz Dirania, your fist will go up and may never come down.

4. Fister - Violence/The Infernal Paramount
We spent all year repeating their mantra. "If it's too slow, you're too young." Whether it is the five song "Violence" EP, or the two song "The Infernal Paramount," the down tempo, high reward sludge three piece known as Fister is a force to be reckoned with. Their riffs pound you into the ground, and the sheer abuse of the vocals keeps your head ringing. And god damn, you would be hard pressed to find a doom/sludge band that sounds better on vinyl.

3. The Massacre Cave - The Ninth Wave
We spent a good portion of 2012 spreading the word of the best band from the island of Eigg. There is very little that we haven't said already, but it all bears repeating. Contagious guitar work, raw but well done vocals, and a rhythm section that can hang with the best of the them, the band with a landmark for a name gave us the biggest surprise of the year.

2. From Beyond - One Year
Balance. If there was one word that could be used to describe Houston's resident kings of gloom and psychedelic doom, it would be balance. Finding a home somewhere between classic Black Sabbath, and their own original style, this EP could be the release that helps to bridge the generation gap between metalheads of now and then. It doesn't matter if you are 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, or.... 10? Either way, you will love what you here on "One Year."

1. Blizzard At Sea - Individuation
You would be hard pressed to find any EP of this year or any other that would rival the latest output by Iowa City's Blizzard At Sea. Hell, you might not be able to find a full length this damn good. When asked to describe the difference between their debut and this follow up in one word, they busted an improv and chose "Progressive-ier." And while that may not be a word recognized by Webster, it fits perfectly. Crushing guitars, rumbling bass, surgically precise drums, and a staggering balance between gritty and clean vocals; it sounds like a sure fire recipe for success. Do yourself a favor, and get this one in your rotation.

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