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10. Immolation – Providence

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

Providence is Immolation basically giving us more of the same, which just means more really quality death metal. Rob Vigna and Bill Taylor lay down some gnarly trems and pinch harmonics while Steve Shalaty rips it up on the kit. No bells and whistles here, kids – just riffs. And good ones at that. These five tasty tracks pick up where Majesty And Decay left off to show there’s still plenty of momentum and longevity in this quarter-of-a-century-old band. Let’s just hope Scion keeps footing the bill for more free metal of this caliber. – AngelOfDeath

9. Mogwai – Earth Division

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

It’s been quite a long time since Mogwai has really been able to “wow” listeners.  Their 1997 debut, Young Team did an admirable job, as did 2006’s Mr. Beast, but high quality releases have been few and far between for the Scottish post-rock band.  Their latest LP failed to make waves, and became a sort of “back burner” type of release.  However, the creativity and intrigue absent on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will survived elsewhere, in the form of a little EP called Earth DivisionEarth Division features more thoughtful songwriting, with more lush atmospheres and mellow instrumentation, as well as vocals, a Mogwai rarity.  It stands out as wholly unique, with the beautiful and touching songs being some of the absolute best in the band’s catalog.  It’s a solid musical experience from start to finish, and for those who’ve jumped off the Mogwai bandwagon, it’s excellent enough to make one come right back into the fold. – Xenophanes

8. James Blake – Enough Thunder

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

So much has been made of James Blake’s songwriting skills and his natural penchant for sensory groove alchemy that it’s been altogether too easy for us to forget how criminally young and inexperienced he really is. At a time when most of his young adult contemporaries are either struggling with student debt, trying to find jobs, and vainly attempting to get their heads around the vagaries of relationships (it’s true; I’ve checked – women are from Venus), this Enfield lad is already perfecting his brand of dreamy, waveform art and demonstrating a heady artistic maturity way beyond his years.

As a result, frequently the sense is that Blake is peaking too early, and that it’s only a matter of time before he simply burns out, leaving us to gaze in silent regret at the red iris of forgettable nothingness where his star once was. With The Bell Sketch’s swift morphing into CMYK, which in turn gave way to the grittier and rugged edges of Klavierwerke, which itself was quick to melt into the hazy drift of Blake’s fantastic but utterly exhausting self-titled debut LP, it seemed like the inevitable flounder leading to a sudden dearth of ideas was just around the corner.

But in releasing Enough Thunder – exactly a year to the day that Klavierwerke first appeared – Blake appeared to catch on, in that uncannily omniscient way of his, to what some of us might be thinking. Just under a half-hour in length, Blake’s latest EP continues his quest to find and uncover hidden truths of modern musical composition. Once more, we find ourselves exposed to the characteristic sounds of our time: groaning samples bump and bristle against each other, monochromatic wobbles tumble about in the mix, and Blake’s own voice, multi-layered for effect, adds a tinge of blurry sepia to proceedings. True, in many respects it’s simply more of the same, but the emotions that Blake taps into this time around are subtly different. The uneasy flickering and dripping water tick-tock of ‘We Might Feel Unsound’, for instance, speaks to the zeitgeist of sensory deprivation; a ready-made soundtrack to isolation chamber music, if ever it is decided that one is needed. Elsewhere, minimalist shifting and heavily distorted piano chords cut clean through the acres of deafening silence on ‘Once We All Agree’, with Blake swapping between sounding lithe and listless seemingly at will. Towards the middle of the album, guest performer Bon Iver suffuses a headier, oxygenated vibe into the EP on the excellent ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir’, before Blake rounds in on himself and delivers a soul-wrenching 21st century update of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You’.

True, it’s a lot to stomach in such a short time, but it seems utterly churlish to chide Blake for simply having that much to share (incidentally: Love What Happened Here, Blake’s latest EP, was released as recently as December 6th; no doubt it simply didn’t have enough time to make most folks’ end of year lists). In the face of such an unstoppable production train all we can do is close our eyes, cross our fingers, and hope that Blake never decides that he has made enough thunder. – Irving

7. Crosses – EP

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

The beloved Chino Moreno (Deftones’ lead singer) joined an electronic side project that released an EP – it’s called Crosses. Although one can’t help feeling that the whole thing is a bit pretentious, perhaps an effort to rope attention, the music is still quite good. It claims some breathtaking moments, with wistful melodies and ethereal ambiance. Chino’s overly dramatic (as usual) vocals sometimes overpower the minimal electronics, but it works in the EP’s favour, adding an element of humanness to the otherwise cold atmosphere. Driven by Chino’s brooding vocals, Crosses turns out to be a successful debut, and a tantalizing salad before the meat of a possible future release. – Pizzamachine

6. Circle Takes The Square – Rites of Initiation

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

Seven years is a hell of a long time to wait, especially if it’s a follow up to an entire genre’s most heavily revered creation.  Well, as heavy handed as that may seem, it says a lot about the incredible amount of praise Circle Takes the Square’s debut record As the Roots Undo has received.  Yet after its release, the band went through somewhat of a dry spell, with touring becoming sparse, and releases, well, stopping completely.  It goes without saying that the band’s first material in years, Decompositions, Volume I, Chapter 1: Rites of Initiation made huge waves when it was released earlier this year, quenching the almost decade long thirst of those yearning for a follow up.  Thankfully, the EP didn’t disappoint.  Featuring the beautifully composed chaos that fans fell in love with back in 2004, the record is not only a wonderful throwback to the groundbreaking Circle Takes the Square of yore, but a subtle  evolution of the more mature and refined Circle Takes the Square of today. Decompositions, Volume I, Chapter 1: Rites of Initiation is only a small part of what the band promises to deliver, but for right now, the winding labyrinth of ‘Way of Ever-Branching Paths’, and the sparse yet effective ‘Spiritual Narrative’ will do just fine. –  Xenophanes

5. Glassjaw – Our Color Green (The Singles)

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

Returning eight years after their last official release, Glassjaw’s first EP of the year Our Color Green was more a collection of singles than it was a self-containing entity. Despite the furore surrounding its release, the material on Our Color Green is as good as anyone could have hoped for. From the stylistic aggression of ‘Jesus Glue’ to the mesmeric guitar riffs supplied by ‘All Good Junkies Go to Heaven’ this is trademark Glassjaw from the off, with only ‘Stars’ showing any signs of weakness. As expected, each song works better on its own than it does within the EP itself and the lack of new material hinders the record’s relevance somewhat but overall it’s as-you-were from Long Island’s most erratic quartet – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. – mutatedfreek

4. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

As with most people, when BTBAM announced an EP, I imagined one long track. Instead, what The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues gives the listener is a more focused and “concentrated” BTBAM. As much as the announcement of this EP lead me to believe that their new label, Metal Blade, was attempting a quick cash-in of their new artist, after a few listens, it becomes clear that this is their best work since Colors. While a typical BTBAM album usually consists of 5-8 tracks and clocking in around 50 minutes to an hour, The Parallax… halves that. As a BTBAM fan, this would normally be discouraging, but the result is a focused half hour of killer progressive technical wizadry without the filler. – twiszted689

3. Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

Carbon-Based Anatomy isn’t so much of a change in direction as it is a natural progression. This transition may prove jarring, and even disheartening for some, but for many, it will be a welcome breath of fresh air. The lacking death metal influences and riffs will be somewhat missed, but they are absent for the sake of something grander and something larger in scope. Carbon-Based Anatomy is both a wonderful reflection and a glimpse towards the future. And the future, well, it looks bright indeed. – Xenophanes

2. Glassjaw – Coloring Book

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

If the release of Our Color Green saw Glassjaw re-announce their presence in the post-hardcore scene, then Coloring Book saw them move away from their roots and reinvent themselves with a more prominent melodic edge. With the exception of ‘Black Nurse’ a lot of the immediacy of their previous work was lost in favour of deeper textures and denser sounds. This exploration results in a renewed maturity, the rhythmic progression of ‘Vanilla Poltergeist Snake’ and the subdued ‘Daytona White’ definitely wouldn’t have been possible circa 2002, whereas ‘Gold’ and ‘Miracle in Inches’ take on a familiar formula but are more refined in their execution.  Though there are outstanding performances all around, it is the chemistry between Durijah Lang and Manuel Carrero that provides the foundations for the slower build-ups that follow, causing each track to blend into each other to form an almost dreamlike individual movement. Coloring Book more than makes up for the long wait that Glassjaw fans have had to endure and hints at a promising future. Let’s just hope that this time the wait isn’t so long. – mutatedfreek

1. Trophy Scars – Never Born, Never Dead

[Official Site] // [Facebook]

Trophy Scars has always thrived under the EP format, with instant classics such as Darkness, Oh Hell and Hospital Music for the Aesthetics of Language displaying the band’s crass approach to modern day post-hardcore, all wrapped up nice in tight cohesive packages.  Well it’s time to add another notch in the band’s belt, as this year’s Never Born, Never Dead sees Trophy Scars at the height of their creative powers. The use of samples is sublime, and as always, the bluesy feeling that permeates the band’s sound is perfect.  ‘Never Dead’ and ‘Angels’ rank up there with some of the best songs the band has ever created, while the rest shines just as brightly.  Comparatively, Never Born, Never Dead is Trophy Scars in a much more “hopeful” light, as opposed to the dark, somber Darkness, Oh Hell.  Surprisingly, the band feels comfortable here, with the less heavy themes being displayed just as brilliantly as their more melancholy counterparts.  This is one of post-hardcore’s finest and most creative acts at the height of their abilities, and one would surely be missing out by not hearing Never Born, Never Dead, 2011’s most exceptional EP. – Xenophanes

Top 50





Deviant.
01.21.12
Top 50 will begin on Monday

Tyrael
01.21.12
list is shit, lol butts

well done, Dev

Tyrael
01.21.12
* and nice write-ups everyone

Adabelle
01.21.12
Great write-ups, did Trash Talk come close to the top 10?

Hep Kat
01.21.12
disappointed by this. i mean, did you guys really need to have both glassjaw EPs? surely y'all listened to enough EPs this year that that didn't need to happen.

happy to see trophy scars (though that was a foregone conclusion) and cynic though.

Captain North
01.21.12
Double glassjaw fuck yeah

SebastianSander
01.21.12
I approve number 1!

mutatedfreek
01.21.12
Would have been nice to see one of the Kerouac splits or La Dispute/KoJi get the nod, but it's not a bad list, still need to listen to CTTS and Cynic though. Stellar job guys, looking forward to the albums.

RagingStorm
01.21.12
nice write-ups guys

dimsim3478
01.21.12
Fairly predictable, but totally decent. Good to see James Blake and Mogwai on there.

fish.
01.21.12
2 should be 1, but nice list. 7, 5, 3, 2 and 1 were all great EPs

fish.
01.21.12
Write up for 2 makes me want to listen to it again, and get a physical copy, which I can't ):

Deviant.
01.21.12
Also I'd just like to point out that I'm pretty sure Irving wrote more for his supposed sound-off than I did for my review of Enough Thunder

fish.
01.21.12
^^haha it does stand out quite a bit when you zoom out

CasinoColumbus
01.21.12
Anyone into post-hardcore should check out Marmozets - Passive Aggressive. That one, or Coloring Book, is my number 1 EP of 2011.

SowingSeason
01.21.12
No armistice? Irving I am disappoint.

clercqie
01.21.12
Holy fuck, Irving. Wall of text much?

Anyways cool list. Trophy Scars is the deserved number one (great write-up as well Xeno).
Dissapointed in the lack of Phaeleh, but oh well

Deviant.
01.21.12
"Great write-ups, did Trash Talk come close to the top 10?"

I honestly can't remember now. Once the count was finalized I deleted all the rest

SowingSeason
01.21.12
If Irving wrote a soundoff for one of the top ten LP's, can we all expect it to exceed 3 pages in length?

Deviant.
01.21.12
But what if he wrote 2, or even 3 of them?

KILL
01.21.12
3 for life

SowingSeason
01.21.12
Good lord. What have we done

fish.
01.21.12
I think I might check 9 out

Irving
01.21.12
Yeah I just really wanted to earn my Contributor stripes. And you guys should just be glad that there wasn't any Disney in the list lol.

The lack of Armistice stings me too SS. I honestly thought we'd done enough to get it on here. I mean, a Staff 5.0, a Contrib 4.5, and a User 4.5? What more does one need? Sexual favours by the looks of it lol.



Electric City
01.21.12
where's the metal? list is shit, lol butts

Irving
01.21.12
Time to get back at the Users for all the flak you received during the publication of your list, Staffs.

AsoTamaki
01.21.12
Where's the indie? This list is terrible!

Hep Kat
01.21.12
my ep of the year, surprisingly, wasn't even like punk or hardcore. it was covert coup. lack of rap love on these staff lists hurts me soul

Blackbelt54
01.21.12
no surprises, good list

AliW1993
01.21.12
Predictable list but not much to disagree with.

AliW1993
01.21.12
Other than Trophy Scars.... really don't get the hype.

TheVoiceAndTheSnake
01.21.12
Nice to see #9 on here :)

Electric City
01.21.12
"Although one can’t help feeling that the whole thing is a bit precocious, "

pretentious?

fish.
01.21.12
Angels is actually probably my least favourite song on #1

fish.
01.21.12
or maybe 2nd least favourite to Never Born

Crysis
01.21.12
Did you do the artwork for this part, Dev? If so, nice work ;)

Deviant.
01.21.12
Yeah I gave up on Photoshop and moved over to paint.net, so much easier

fish.
01.21.12
Why is the writing for the image for 2 stretched so much? I mean, I know that at normal size it would be pretty small in comparison, but considering how minimalist the actual album artwork is, it probably wouldn't have mattered much anyway.

Crysis
01.21.12
"Yeah I gave up on Photoshop and moved over to paint.net"

Read that quick as thought it was just MS paint, was about to be impressed.

Looks great, though, man.

Deviant.
01.21.12
Probably because I decided to keep this as close to how Trey always does it, which meant restricting every piece of artwork to set measurements. And seeing as how the "artwork" for the album is nothing more than words it was bound to be a little stretched. It also didn't help matters that the lettering isn't even centered to begin with, but by all means CRITICIZE EVERYTHING YOU SEE

Deviant.
01.21.12
"Read that quick as thought it was just MS paint, was about to be impressed."

Thanks man. Yeah Photoshop was a pain in the ass. I went all legit about it and downloaded it from adobe because they had a 30 day free trial which I figured would be more than enough time. But then adobe's download assistant wouldn't extract properly, so I had to dl it like 4-5 times, and then Photoshop wouldn't save any of my work unless I went to close the app and got the usual "all unsaved progress will be lost. save now?" Needless to say, I went searching for alternatives

FromDaHood
01.21.12
How close was love american to making it?

fish.
01.21.12
"CRITICIZE EVERYTHING YOU SEE"
I will. You do know that the actual artwork is just the plain background colour and the writing is actually on the inside cover right? :p
But no, seriously, good work

Crysis
01.21.12
"Needless to say, I went searching for alternatives"

Just for future reference the program GIMP can do a lot of what photoshop does (not all, but a lot) and it's free.

Deviant.
01.21.12
"I will. You do know that the actual artwork is just the plain background colour and the writing is actually on the inside cover right? :p"

Yes I was aware of this, but thank you for pointing out that a blank red square would have been a better alternative

AngelofDeath
01.21.12
Yeah, I go for the less-is-more approach, and Irving drops the wall of text on us.

pizzamachine
01.21.12
@ Electric City: That it should be. :/ That will be the only pizza mistake I swear.

Irving
01.21.12
^ LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Deviant.
01.21.12
"That will be the only pizza mistake I swear."

Well you also called it witch house but I got rid of that quick smart. Changed it to pretentious

Hey, now my name shows up as the author again!

AngelofDeath
01.21.12
"Well you also called it witch house but I got rid of that quick smart. Changed it to pretentious"

lol

pizzamachine
01.21.12
haha I knew it would annoy you. :P

Knott-
01.21.12
lol Irving

Irving
01.21.12
What? =S

Knott-
01.21.12
the size of your soundoff compared to all the others haha

Kris.
01.21.12
no daytrader

you people piss me off

Eko
01.21.12
man I was hoping Hawkboy would make it

cool stuff

mvood
01.21.12
don't remember what EPs i voted for but im pretty sure that i voted 1 as 1 so that's all that matters

Xenophanes
01.21.12
Irving wrote his sound offs so huuuuuuge, even for the albums in the forties and stuff.....omg we all look so bad, damn you Irving! But seriously though it reads great, I'm just giving you shit.

chesse13
01.21.12
i love how glassjaw is here twice

Xenophanes
01.21.12
List looks really great Dev and Crysis, thanks a lot : )

And thanks to the users whose soundoffs we stole, and especially the ones who wrote theirs willingly.

theacademy
01.21.12
#providence #providence #providence #providence #providence #providence

Irving
01.21.12
I guess I just wanted to compensate for not reviewing as much as you guys lol =S

theacademy
01.21.12
im still in a dream, snake eater

AngelofDeath
01.21.12
Best game ever.

AutoRock
01.21.12
1 is epic

Crysis
01.21.12
"List looks really great Dev and Crysis, thanks a lot"

My work won't be seen until the actual top 50. This one is allll Deviant.

AngelofDeath
01.21.12
Yeah, put the dick-sucking on hold until Monday.

Crysis
01.21.12
don't be jelly angel you'll get your turn

Scoot
01.21.12
meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh trophy scars shouldn't have won

AngelofDeath
01.21.12
Shit, I'm startin' my own fan club.

Gonna have mad groupies.

Crysis
01.21.12
groupies wear corrupted t's and leather patch jackets

AngelofDeath
01.21.12
Well, I know you can't stand there and tell me those wouldn't be some fly-ass groupies.

Crysis
01.21.12
i'd be jealous

Poncharelo
01.21.12
Nice!

UnnamedOcean
01.21.12
No Olafur Arnalds. Users, I am disappoint.

Dev518
01.21.12
How is this list ranked? It isn't by user score and there was never a user vote. So, what makes this different than the Staff's top 50?

KeithStone582
01.21.12
great list. 2 really should be 1, but I won't complain.

Trebor.
01.21.12
trophy scars suck hard

Slum
01.21.12
"How is this list ranked? It isn't by user score and there was never a user vote. So, what makes this different than the Staff's top 50?"

there was a user vote though lol

Acanthus
01.21.12
Don't enjoy an of these, but the pictures are pretty :P

Acanthus
01.21.12
*any

fish.
01.21.12
"trophy scars suck hard"
yeah, gonna 3/5 them so hard

NeutralThunder12
01.21.12
most of the stuff on here and almost all of the color spectrum is better than never born

NeutralThunder12
01.21.12
and where is olafur

fish.
01.21.12
The only Color Spectrum EP I liked back to front was Black EP

FromDaHood
01.21.12
Violet was the best EP

ThyCrossAwaits
01.21.12
herp derp 1 didn't expect that.

totally deserved, though.

fish.
01.21.12
1 was pretty predictable tbh. What I didn't expect was Coloring Book being as high as #2, but I'm pleased

zxlkho
01.21.12
3 should be 1

Metamorphosis
01.21.12
Yay, all my top EP's are here.

Metamorphosis
01.21.12
Oh but what the Hell is Rites of Initiation doing here? I thought the users here didn't really dig it.

Hopeland
01.21.12
Kinda bummed that Olafur Arnalds' Living Room Songs didn't make it, list is still good though

Phideaux
01.22.12
1 is a good choice. Too much Glassjaw in this list.

Trebor.
01.22.12
Lack of Empire! Empire! makes me very sad

Irving
01.22.12
"How is this list ranked? It isn't by user score and there was never a user vote. So, what makes this different than the Staff's top 50?"

lol

Deviant.
01.22.12
Kid gives dev a bad name

Hospital
01.22.12
Trophy scars best band ever

Douglas
01.22.12
Was I the only vote for Matt Corby?? haha

Satellite
01.22.12
"How is this list ranked? It isn't by user score and there was never a user vote. So, what makes this different than the Staff's top 50?"

hahahaha

Kris.
01.22.12
satty please agree with me that this is hardcore missing some daytrader pleeeassee i feel like i'm alone righ tnow

Satellite
01.22.12
yeah, agreed. i (think i) voted for it (and a bunch of other shit that had no chance of making the list). but after the staff debacle i'm okay with this.

Irving
01.22.12
Lack of Armistice still makes me sad.

Deviant.
01.22.12
How long would THAT soundoff have been though?

DaveyBoy
01.22.12
Somewhere in a dark corner, The Dear Hunter are crying "We had 9 go's at it guys & we still couldn't get on Sputnik's Best EPs list.

Irving
01.22.12
Longer than the amount of time couldwinarabbit has spent on here jizzing over Radiohead.

Irving
01.22.12
Now I'm starting to feel bad for my spot of novel-writing =S

Irving
01.22.12
Also DaveyBoy, I think that the presence of NINE Dear Hunter EPs contributed to a significant amount of vote-splitting lol.

mutatedfreek
01.22.12
Technically White EP is my favourite EP from 2011 but I didn't vote for it because I voted for the complete collection as an LP, I'm pretty sure most others did as well and hence they'll make it into that list at least.

ShadowRemains
01.22.12
goddammit btbam...

Irving
01.22.12
Or they may have not...

Tyrael
01.22.12
I was sad that I Was Hungry For Hands didn't make this list

but Irving's epic write-up cheered me back up

mutatedfreek
01.22.12
"Or they may have not..."

It would surprise me if it didn't make the top 50 albums, not that surprises are a bad thing.

fish.
01.22.12
I'd be surprised if it didn't make the top 10 tbh

mutatedfreek
01.22.12
Fo sho

Irving
01.22.12
I guess we'll see ;)

@ Ty: You're sweet =)

SowingSeason
01.22.12
I'll need to do some kind of EP blog retrospective to recognize armistice. And don't worry that your soundoff is unusually large Irving. The rest of us are just jealous because we are only half that size. ;-)

Irving
01.22.12
Hahahaha insert overcompensation joke here XD

Tyrael
01.22.12
@ Sowing & Irving I included Armistice in my top 2011 list you might want to keep that bumped then ;]

Imperial
01.22.12
There's some metals.

Redman54
01.22.12
List is pretty much what I expected but is in dire need of some The Deer Hunter EP's

Deviant.
01.23.12
Not really, especially seeing that the entire comp was deemed eligible for entry in the LP section

Maize
01.23.12
surprised a color spectrum didnt make it.

sifFlammable
01.23.12
immolation's artwork at top makes for a real nice visual entry for the list

omnipanzer
01.23.12
At least 2 of mine made it.

sifFlammable
01.23.12
i really wanted andy stott here

cynthiaruff
01.23.12
Color making always attracted to words.
interstate courier service

Deviant.
01.23.12
"i really wanted andy stott here"

Both of his EPs this year weren't exactly tier worthy though. Little surprised Burial didn't cross the line in the end. From memory, I think he's somewhere in the 12-15 margin

Deviant.
01.23.12
*last year

Rev
01.23.12
I'm a little bummed I didn't manage to edge in. Oh well

Always 2012 best of ;)

sifFlammable
01.23.12
wait ur saying neither of his eps crossed the 50 line? that sux. his only problem is that his tracks r lyk hit or miss imo cos his sound is fab

Xenophanes
01.23.12
Happy B Day, Rev!

Rev
01.23.12
Thanks Eli! :3

Deviant.
01.23.12
"wait ur saying neither of his eps crossed the 50 line? "

EPs man, only top 10

"I'm a little bummed I didn't manage to edge in. Oh well"

You actually did really well, as in you fell just outside of the top 10

Aids
01.23.12
list is shit, lol butts

awesome new memes aside though, decent list. 1 is 1 and that's all that matters. I thought that maybe Rev's Ep would make the cut, oh well.

BlueW
01.25.12
No Mahria really shits me

iamSeraph
01.28.12
great list. count my votes in ,)

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