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50-31 | 30-1110-1 | EPs

10. Brand New – 3 Demos, Reworked
10. Brand New - 3 Demos, Reworked

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

There are some questions as to why 3 Demos, Reworked even exists. Was it a hastily-recorded fixer to smooth over the grumblings when LP5 was delayed once again? Or was it planned out in advance, part of a bigger scheme leading up to whatever Brand New have in store for 2017? The cynic in me thinks the former, but the music on display seems to bear up the latter. 3 Demos is the tightest, least-forced music we’ve heard from Brand New since Daisy, and the fact that the songs are more than ten years old doesn’t seem to hurt that in the least. “Brother’s Song” and “1996” are clean, crisp and beautiful, with the former’s raw acoustic appeal translating weirdly well to a full-band electric version. “1996” has definitely changed the least, with Lacey’s best Morrissey impression still in the forefront amongst some of the finest and most cynical lyrics he’s ever penned. Only “Missing You” is a dud, with the original’s dirty electronic drive totally lost amongst the too-polished, too-slow reinterpretation. But “Missing You” doesn’t stop this being one of the stronger EPs of the year, and hopefully a sign that Brand New are getting back in the headspace that gave us The Devil and God… all those years ago. –Rowan

9. JANK – Versace Summer
9. Jank - Versace Summer

[Bandcamp] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

I am stricken with a strange, sinking feeling every time I listen to Versace Summer – the feeling that I’ve heard this all before. I have a feeling this sensation bubbles to the surface with every JANK spin because, well, it’s true. JANK do the whole sophomoric-but-fun emo, hammer-on/pull-off guitar ballet math-rock thing that’s been done a million times. JANK do it because, hey, it works — and God bless them because they do it well. There’s a part in the closer, where the guitar riff and the vocal hook follow the same notes, and it’s just wonderful – and that moment alone makes it worth indulging in JANK as they make the 1,000,001st mathy emo record. –Robert Lowe

8. G.L.O.S.S. – Trans Day of Revenge
8. G.L.O.S.S. - Trans Day of Revenge

[Bandcamp] // [RIP]

Too punk for Epitaph, G.L.O.S.S. reasoned that disbanding was essential, as punk rock, “[i]sn’t supposed to be about getting big or becoming famous, it’s supposed to be about challenging ourselves and each other to be better people.” If those were the requirements, than Trans Day of Revenge satisfies them wholeheartedly. Awash with queerness and an ineffably aggravated hardcore performance style, Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit make their case aptly: “We scream just to make sense of things.” They might not find answers, but they certainly articulate the struggle in bothering. –Elliott

7. Drei Affen – Drei Affen
7. Drei Affen - Drei Affen

[Label Site] // [Bandcamp] // [Facebook]

Drei Affen is a pummeling listen from the second it starts to the second it ends. Infusing tinges of neo-crust and post-rock into their brand of screamo, the Spanish three piece have crafted a ferocious gut punch in the form of their six track self-titled EP. Unlike many of their European screamo counterparts, Drei Affen have eschewed the slow burn format, getting straight to the point with songs that all hover around the three minute mark. Short, sweet, and brimming with energy, Drei Affen’s serene brutality makes for the best screamo release of the year. –Robert Lowe

6. Protest the Hero – Pacific Myth
6. Protest the Hero - Pacific Myth

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Protest the Hero boomed into the progressive metal spotlight after Kezia and Fortress, and for good reason. They were damn good at their instruments, after all — a pre-requisite for prog these days. On Pacific Myth, every knob is turned up to 10 the entire time. It blitzes riff after riff with nary a break in the complexity with little to no instrumental breathers. There’s nothing as tenderly immaculate as the guitar solo on “Blindfold Aside”, nor anything as compelling as the opening to “Bloodmeat”. It’s borderline formulaic by now, and the vocal melodies themselves sound rehashed from older songs.

The EP certainly has its allures; tracks such as “Tidal” and “Harbinger” have excellent, memorable choruses, with the latter given extra character from its moody piano progression bookending the song. The 9-minute closer “Caravan” is one of the few tracks to build upon its initial riff-driven foundation, flowing in and out of screamed spastic bridges and crooned melodic passages, ultimately leading up to a brilliant orchestral denouement. The instrumentals themselves are spot on; it’s nigh impossible to tell that they underwent some recent lineup changes since the newcomers fit so snugly within the rest of the band’s artistic prowess. The problem is that Protest the Hero have a gift for pushing the boundaries of metal even when we thought there weren’t any boundaries left to be pushed, and when they release something as relatively vanilla as Pacific Myth that narrows their creative scope, it sounds like the band is playing on auto-pilot. We know they can do better; they have done better. However, as a die-hard fan, I still find it thoroughly enjoyable. Fans of Protest the Hero’s signature style will get exactly what they’re expecting: overtly complicated riffs sweeping from progression to progression without a hitch topped with eccentric vocal arrangements. –Insurrection

5. Chelsea Wolfe – Hypnos / Flame
5. Chelsea Wolfe - HypnosFlame

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

It feels a bit odd to say this regarding an entry in one of Sputnikmusic’s all-important end-of-year lists, but Chelsea Wolfe’s Hypnos / Flame is startlingly unambitious. Maybe it’s just me, but you don’t see very many albums that are so relaxed in their aspirations making these lists and Hypnos / Flame is little more than a pair of bonus tracks and three demo versions of songs from last year’s opus Abyss tossed to fans like an auditory bone. But then you remember it’s Chelsea Wolfe after all, and one listen to either of the two title tracks puts it all in perspective. Both are up there with Wolfe’s best, but in a very different way. There’s a stripped-down style in place here compared to Abyss, foregoing dismal electronics and unsettling noise for simple acoustics lines and Wolfe’s somber voice. “Hypnos” is particularly impressive, with Wolfe’s voice slipping ominously out from the dim fog of acoustics before settling into a more melodic groove. “Flame” is even simpler, mostly carried by softly strumming guitars until distant yet harsh electronics begin tearing it apart at the back end. There’s not really a lot to the demo versions as all three tracks made their mark on Abyss already, but for fans it’s a treat to hear them in a more primal, raw state. I suppose it says a lot about Wolfe’s power as an artist that a pair of new tracks and some old demos are enough to snag a spot on the end-of-year lists, but really, who’s complaining? –Gameofmetal

4. Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – Bittersweet
4. Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - Bittersweet

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Bittersweet picks up where We Don’t Have Each Other left off – actually quite literally – with our narrator Aaron West at the same payphone he used to call Diane (“Divorce and the American South”) trying to sell his dad’s car (“St. Joe Keeps Us Safe”). In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these were outtakes from the same sessions, considering how closely they follow the predecessor’s formula, something that could work to its disadvantage. But Bittersweet operates on an if-it-ain’t-broke mentality, keeping the instrumental presence to a minimum so Soupy’s vivid lyricism and acute emotion stay firmly in the spotlight.

“’67 Cherry Red” and “Goodbye, Carolina Blues” are about as strong a one-two punch as you’ll hear in 2016. The former takes the age-old imagery of car-as-symbol-of-freedom and turns it on its head, making the car something of a burden that Aaron only wants because of the memories of his father that it brings — which doesn’t stop him from selling it to buy a bus ticket. “Goodbye, Carolina Blues” slows things down to a crawl, letting both the geographical and spiritual isolation shine through every word, complete with a sad trumpet and a sudden switch to shrieked vocals a la “The Devil In My Bloodstream”. The second best song from No Closer to Heaven actually managed to sum it all up superbly, condensing pretty much every Wonder Years and Aaron West song into just three screamed words: “American, broken promises”. –Rowan

3. Carly Rae Jepsen – E MO TION Side B
3. Carly Rae Jepsen - E MO TION Side B

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As rejected cuts go, E MO TION – Side B is admirable. Removed from the already-stayed mall pop of last year’s E MO TION, this companion EP is more of the same: bombastic synths, sickly sweet vocals, and a penchant for silliness and glitz that owes everything to Stock Aitken Waterman. For the most part, as in “First Time” and “Higher”, it’s a good thing, unashamedly catchy and addictively kitschy. Given the source material and the tendency for this sort of music to unceremoniously disappear after prolonged use, it’s nothing impressive, but it’s certainly enough fun to constitute one of 2016’s less demanding and straightforward moments. –Elliott

2. Massive Attack – Ritual Spirit
2. Massive Attack - Ritual Spirit

[Bandcamp] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

On “Ritual Spirit”, the title track of Massive Attack’s latest EP, Robert Del Naja takes the band’s brand of woozy trip-hop into a sharper, more evil territory. Along with newcomer Azekel, 3D flips the Massive Attack standard in favour of lingering synths and an unsettlingly bleak atmosphere. However, most of Ritual Spirit instead lingers on tribal drums and Mezzanine-lite atmospherics. It’s straightforward enough not to disappoint, and with assists from Tricky and Roots Manuva, doesn’t surprise or toy with the formula. This is the sound of Massive Attack, resolute in direction and reliable in execution. As a preview for their latest full-length – and in addition to Daddy G’s also excellent EP, The SpoilsRitual Spirit is a spiriting (haha) sign of things to come. –Elliott

1. Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
1. Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Pleiades’ Dust may not be Gorguts at their most forward thinking, but it says something about them that they still try to break new ground every single time. Every Gorguts release is different from both its predecessors and its successors, from the authentic ’90s OSDM of Considered Dead to the earth-shattering weirdness of Obscura to the dynamic, progressive Colored Sands. As our own enigmatic writer Eli K. said, Pleiades’ Dust can be summed up as Colored Sands smashed down into a tighter half hour, but it still has qualities that separate it from any of Gorguts’ other recordings. Certainly, there’s the “one colossal track” approach tackled by acts like Deathspell Omega, Edge of Sanity, and most recently Insomnium, but stylistically it’s also not quite as flamboyant as Colored Sands with its theatrical interludes. Riff-wise, Gorguts maintain moods and tones across the EP instead of effortlessly crossing over and around them while ominous ambiance separates the larger passages of winding, hazy extreme metal. While the attempt to make a seamless composition across thirty minutes of music doesn’t really work, resulting in the EP feeling more like three distinct songs glued together by ambient interludes, it doesn’t really matter because Gorguts are still as vibrantly unique as they’ve ever been. It’s hard to say at this point if it’s death metal with a fetish for the weird or just experimental music that happens to dig some death metal, but it also doesn’t matter one wit because Gorguts still have that essential spark that have made them so important for so long. –Gameofmetal

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Jom
01.12.17
~~swerve~~

See you tomorrow for the real 10 - 1 entry!

AsleepInTheBack
01.12.17
hell yes for 9 and and 7

FullOfSounds
01.12.17
Aw yes Drei Affen actually made it

Toondude10
01.12.17
Gorguts is obviously where it should be. Surprised that Pacific Myth isn't any higher though.

ramon.
01.12.17
Cognizant's s/t trumped all of this for me

Sinternet
01.12.17
Pacific myth is shit why isnt red velvet here

hesperus
01.12.17
Glad to see 8 and 7 on here. Plus they both have great blurbs, so I can't be too bitter about getting snubbed for the chance to write about G.L.O.S.S.

ScuroFantasma
01.12.17
8 is pretty cool. Saw 1 and 3 comin'

TheMrAlexK
01.12.17
Savage Mode didn't make it? Could of swore I saw a ton of people vote for that, guess not.

Flugmorph
01.12.17
nice two of my picks on here. still would've liked to see the new disillusion ep here

Conmaniac
01.12.17
JANK MADE THIS LIST?? FUCK YEAH

pjorn
01.12.17
Sad not to see ABRA - Princess not on here ;_;

Sniff
01.12.17
Was it ever any competition for first place?

Flugmorph
01.12.17
yes

SteveOffProbation
01.12.17
yea but where's ss3

Trebor.
01.12.17
Everyone should check Drei Affen

AsleepInTheBack
01.12.17
Everyone should check Drei Affen [2]

tommygun
01.12.17
gorgutz m/

tre
01.12.17
Drei Affen is the shit

ShitsofRain
01.12.17
xD

theBoneyKing
01.12.17
Every 2016 EP I've heard sucked :-/

NorthernSkylark
01.12.17
Shout out for majical cloudz last output wait and see

dbizzles
01.12.17
I'm a fanboy, but the Botanist split is my EP of the year.
Pleaide's Dust was nice, didn't hear anything else hear other than the Brand New EP and it didn't interest me much.

TheFantasticDangler
01.12.17
massive attack, gorguts and aaron west fuck ya, good list

brainmelter
01.13.17
this is the best list so far

brainmelter
01.13.17
yeah happiest about 7 and 1 was obvious(not a bad thing)

Slinkinlip
01.13.17
No Popestar?

ScuroFantasma
01.13.17
Yeah thought that might be on here

XingKing
01.13.17
Super happy to see Drei Affen on here. Best screamo release of 2016

Trebor.
01.13.17
shame it doesn't have a review

Asdfp277
01.13.17
Trans Day of Revenge & E MO TION Side B are not eps guys

Asdfp277
01.13.17
or are they? o:

ScuroFantasma
01.13.17
Compilations were also accepted, and what is Revenge of not an EP?

Asdfp277
01.13.17
yeah sorry, it is, i thought demo was possibly a different category but it's universally recognized as an ep

i thought the compilations, et al. were considered for the lps list lmao

hesperus
01.13.17
"shame it doesn't have a review"

I think I'm gonna fix that soon

desertwolves
01.14.17
wow, people still care about Protest The Hero.

ianblxdsoe
01.15.17
happy to see 9, 6, and 4 here, 4 i felt like was pretty underrated, and 9 i didnt even think people knew existed but i'm glad people do

MO
01.16.17
the Guts at number 1, wow good job sputdicks you did something right! m/m/

Feather
01.25.17
really dumb that the eps are even on this even though I did vote for Brand New and Aaron West

dbizzles
01.25.17
But..... but, this IS the top EP list.... separate from the top albums list.

Feather
01.25.17
@dbizzles ... I'm aware of this now and I'm embarrased for not realizing they were all eps ... I was looking at the user top 50 and somehow skipped the top 10 and went to this instead, which made me think this was the top 10 ...

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