Usually, splits and EPs get overlooked at end-of-the-year lists (especially the former) and seeing as there was a decent number of both this year, I figured I’d highlight ones I think are worth checking out. So here goes…
TOP 5 EPs OF 2013
5. Lorn – Debris
Lorn basically continues his path exploring the darker, moodier and more atmospheric side of electronica on this 6-track EP. The texture’s are just crisp and the bass has that classic deep Lorn sound – there’s no reason for any fan of his to dislike this release; it’s sorta a continuation of his “Ask The Dust” material. Check the second track from the release, On The Ice.
4. False Flag Attack – Nuclear Winter
German grinders False Flag Attack have been busy this year, not only releasing this EP, but their debut album “Grind The Human Scum” and have just released yet another EP. The guys just don’t seem to stop pushing out music and thankfully it doesn’t affect the quality of it either; just politically-conscious grind that never surrenders. Check the second track from the release, Bullshit.
3. Whirr – Around
If you’ve heard this, then you’ll know why it’s hard to even describe my feelings about it. Whirr really bring on the slow and sombre shoegaze feel hear with almost lazily struck chords, moaned and elongated vocals and hammering yet not overly-dominant drums… this album is just a sad, sad experience that you can’t stop listening to. Beautiful atmospheric material from the San Francisco quintet. You can listen to the complete EP here.
2. Pig Destroyer – Mass & Volume
Pig Destroyer dropped this crushing EP early in 2013 as two previously unreleased tracks – from the Phantom Limb era – in aide of Pat Egan’s family, who unfortunately had to deal with his passing away. This release was part of an effort by Relapse and its affiliates to raise money for the Egan family. As for the material itself, Pig Destroyer are all about the doom here, going back to what made tracks like Natasha and Pixie so memorable. I hope they make a physical release of it because it’s a crime to think that these tracks might not have even seen the light of day. You can read my review of it here and you can listen to the EP for yourself here.
1. Gas Axe – Gas Axe
Thanks to this gem of a debut release from the Welsh lot, Gas Axe have – even with just four songs to their name – garnered a good amount of attention in the UK to their original hybrid take on doom/sludge and death metal. You can basically read my thoughts on it in a review I did not too long ago; there was a lot I had to say about it… I’m expecting a lot from these guys. Check out the whole EP here.
TOP 5 SPLITS OF 2013
5. Cough / Windhand – Reflection Of The Negative
First thing: I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to Cough, I really have to be in the mood to listen to them but a lot of the time I’m not and so I struggle with their tracks where admittedly not all that much happens within their usual 10+ minute tracks. The case is the same here. While I’m not annoyed or disappointed or let-down by their track Athame, I’m just not moved by it either. However, when the two Windhand tracks come along, things are different. My head starts to bob automatically, my arms swing slowly and I can feel my brain numbing by the treat my ears are getting from Windhand’s catchy and droney doom. With their side alone, Windhand secured this split in my top 5 of the year. You can check out the whole split here.
4. Meth Drinker / Moloch split
If you’re a sludge/doom fan who loves the aggressive side of the genre and haven’t heard this, then you better get round to it. Admittedly I was only a fan of Meth Drinker before wrapping my ears around this split, but now I’m a fan of Moloch as well. Moloch, from Leicester, are admittedly a lot like Eyehategod – even the vocals could be mistaken for Mike IX himself – but the two tracks they supply are great: tormented sounds, fuzzed and pissed off guitars and the overall feeling of misanthropy is thick and juicy. Then comes the four tracks from New Zealand’s wave-makers Meth Drinker, again, just seething with so much hatred and frustration you could almost choke on it. While Meth Drinker’s recording is noticeably poorer, it doesn’t take away from the the enjoyment of it at all; it sort of boosts it really. You can check out Moloch’s side here and Meth Drinker’s track 2 Minutes Of Hate here.
3. Oblivionized / Plague Widow – This Black Earth
In this case, I only knew of Oblivionized and ended up a fan of Plague Widow as well by the end of this split. Oblivionized did a split with fellow UK grinders Human Cull as well after this but I just personally prefer this collaboration. Oblivionized open the split with two absolute scorchers, Hope Is The First Sign Of Defeat and Just Show Me How It Ends. Both are just bleak, pissed off and chaotic. The two Plague Widow tracks, Malignant and Paralytic Levitation, move to the grimmer side as the band blast their blackened brand of death metal. You get a good mixture of styles between the two bands. You can read my review of it here and listen to either the Oblivionized side here or the Plague Widow side here.
2. Conan / Bongripper split
I don’t know what else I need to say other than what I’ve already said in the review I did for Metal Recusants (see it here). Two great bands contributed a single song each to a split that’s so heavy it hurts… and it feels good! I do prefer the Conan side to Bongripper, but both bands brought something great to the table and riffs that grapple with your brain long after they’ve finished. If you like doom, there’s no excuse to ignore this. You can check out Bongripper’s track Zero Talent here and Conan’s track Beheaded here.
1. Brutal Truth / Bastard Noise – The Axiom of Post Humanity
This is an experience in itself. Two giants come together to unleash pure noise and drone hell, and that hell is good. Bastard Noise basically dominates the majority of this split with seven tracks, mostly orientating around the usual power electronics, although arguably at the most accessible yet – the second track, The Horizon on Lynx, is a lot more droney and rhythmic than the other Bastard Noise tracks on here. Brutal Truth are basically a drone band here with power electronics playing a small part in the background. The last track of theirs. The Stroy, features more of the band with drums coming in under the power electronics. So much happens in this split, it’s just far too much to detail on this list. Just do yourself a favour and listen to the whole thing here.