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Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 - 2011 EPs

Here's a list of my favorite EPs that have been released this year. There were a couple of other EPs that I would have liked to have put on here, but heard too late in the year for them to really leave an impact like these did. Keep in mind that this is just my personal list. Please feel free to list your own list below.

10) Corelia - Nostalgia [Independent]
A band lumped in with the whole djent scene but is closer to that of a modern prog-metal band with leaning into the more technical realms, ala Sikth. Very melodic with mostly clean vocals that remind me a bit of a young Geoff Tate of all things. It's the type of record that vocally might turn some people off, though I personally enjoy them, but enjoy the music.
Highlight: Blood Petals

9) No Funeral - No Funeral [Wands]
A definite highlight of my entire year has been the discovery of many groups that have been put under the category of "blackened punk." No Funeral's debut six song EP definitely left an impression with me due to it's straightforward nature of songwriting, extremely raw production, and spit-in-your-face authority. Blown out and just nasty from start to finish. You really have no idea what you're missing out on if you haven't checked these guys out yet.
Highlight: Cancer

8) Seirom - Seiromistkrieg [Independent]
Mories of Gnaw Their Tongues, among others, comes out with a new project that blows away most of the post-black metal releases this year. Breaking away from his usual nosier work, this release is more beautiful than hideous due to it's focus on layers of ambiance and post-rock influenced guitar lines. While it most certainly contains tons of noise, the vacuum of space can become engulfed by the more melodic and ambient tendencies that these songs exhibit. An absolute marvel of post-black metal/blackgaze that does away with most of the competition in a single swoop. A full-length next year is surely near the top of my most anticipated albums for next year.
Highlight: Istnichtkrieg

7) Between The Buried and Me - The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues [Metal Blade]
Following up what was their most progressive effort yet, 2009's "The Great Misdirect," this new EP continued the band's trend of becoming even more of a progressive metal group by crafting three of their most interesting and memorable songs yet. Delving into the world of concepts with this release, each song retains the band's signature unpredictable style of songwriting while molding songs into more straightforward-ish structures whilst not making a single song sound the same. Easily their most expansive and mature effort yet.
Highlight: Lunar Wilderness

6) And The Giraffe - Something For Someone [Independent]
I'm obviously not a huge fan of indie music, let along indie folk, but this record just blew me away. I've gotten a couple of requests to review indie music in the past, and I've always had to turn it down because it doesn't really appeal to me at all, but this thing was just great. The songwriting is very well done, simplistic but super catchy songs, what more could you want from an indie folk record?
Highlight: Underground Love

5) The Ash Eaters - The Cruel Side [Independent]
A rather new addition to the list but one that definitely stood out this year. These guys obviously know how to write songs that are attention grabbing, but the nods to groups like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord are clearly referenced within both tracks. Unlike the other bands who just copy those bands, these guys obviously have their own sound and take on the more chaotic side of black metal. Raw and interesting black metal for people who like it weird and intense.
Highlight: We Want Oblivion

4) Agrypnie - Asche [Supreme Chaos]
Agrypnie is a group that has grown tremendously since their debut full-length back in 2006. With each release we've seen them embrace more and more the influences of industrial and progressive music and mold it into something uniquely their own. On this EP however, we see them take on a stronger element of post-rock and shoegaze, or at least black metal influenced by those sounds, and pull it off better than a majority of their piers who supposedly specialize in this realm. It's a record that will confound all those fanboys/fangirls who flock to Alcest-lite bands due to it's progressive and harder edge, but might actually make them take a second look at the sub-genre call "post-black metal."
Highlight: Augenblick

3) Circles - The Compass [Basick]
Who knew the blending of modern prog rock, djent, and electronica could produce such a catchy record. While the whole band is great, vocalist Perry Kakridas is undoubtedly the star of the show with his Mike Patton-esque croon. The songs on here are all of a high caliber and have interesting rhythmic patterns whilst being incredibly catchy and memorable. Not a song on here isn't memorable in some way. The vocal melodies on here are nearly impossible to rid yourself of once you hear them.
Highlight: The Design

2) Horseback/Locrian - New Dominions [Utech]
This is a collaboration that was bound to produce results that would both intrigue as well as amaze; and it didn't disappoint. The two tracks on here exhibit traits that do call back to some of the work both groups have done on their own, but create an interesting hybrid when combined. It goes above and beyond the reaches of drone, black metal, and post-rock into a whole new plain, and elevates it into a place I have yet to hear repeated. An absolutely essential piece of music from this year.
Highlight: Our Epitaph

1) Ólafur Arnalds - Living Room Songs [Erased Tapes]
With his second full-length, "...And They Have Escaped The Weight of Darkness," Ólafur Arnalds had solidified a place within my favorite albums of last year. This new EP sees him expanding on the sounds of that album while performing all the material on this it live in his living room, with accompanying strings and an electronic producer. While not quite the emotional roller-coaster that his last album was, the songs on here all express a wonderful sense of emotion while being very minimal in their composition. Emotional, minimalistic, orchestral, and beautiful, what more could you ask for? This is an absolutely mesmerizing record.
Highlight: Lag Fyrir Ömmu

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