BEST OF 2021: EPs

Guhts

Before we leap into the Top 40 records of 2021, we’d like to honor some of the strong EPs that have come out this year. No matter what form of heavy music is your favorite, there were smaller releases all over the place to either tide you over to the next full-length or give you an introductory jolt from a band perhaps previously unknown to you. We love these releases, we still listen to them relentlessly, and they’re worth your hard-earned money. Or maybe you don’t work that hard but still make money. Capitalism. It’s a fucker.  

GUHTS, “Blood Feather” (self-released): Hey, we can’t cover everything, and we missed on Guhts’ awesome “Blood Feather,” their great debut EP. It’s hard to really pin down the band’s sound as they use doom, sludge, atmospheric dreaming, and Amber Burns’ wrenching, soaring voice that absolutely cannot be denied. The highlight of the four-track collection is the 10-minute closer “The Forest” that is a sonic journey, and it’s preceded by menacing “Eyes Open,” “Handless Maiden,” and “The Mirror.” Really excited to hear where this band goes from here. (Aug. 6)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/guhtsband

To buy the album, go here: https://guhts.bandcamp.com/album/blood-feather

CULT OF LUNA, “The Raging River” (Metal Blade/Red Creek): A sort of bridge between “A Dawn to Fear” and the upcoming “The Long Road North” (spoiler: it’s fucking awesome), “The Raging River” was a chance for Swedes Cult of Luna to add a smaller portion size to their ravenous audience but do it in a way that absolutely floors you. The four tracks run over nearly 39 minutes, so it’s a full-length offering for many other bands, but somehow they keep you wanting even more after “What I Leave Behind,” “Inside of a Dream” that features Mark Lanegan, and epic closer “Wave After Wave.” (Feb. 5)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cultoflunamusic

To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

Or here: https://red-crk.com/collections/vinyl/products/cult-of-luna-the-raging-river-aside-bside-clear-and-red-new-pressing

For more on the label, go here: https://www.metalblade.com/us/

And here: https://red-crk.com/

SPIRIT ADRIFT, “Forge Your Future” (Century Media): It was an off year of sorts for Spirit Adrift who did not offer up a new full-length record and also moved to Century Media, a behemoth if there ever was one. Yet they managed to check in with this great three-song EP, further proof that they have their swords sharpened, their magic ready to explode, and their traditional metal chops ready to capture more hearts and minds. Basically, if you already were on board with this band, this EP will feel right at home as they hammer you with the title track, the awesome “Wake Up,” and “Invisible Enemy.” I’m psyched beyond words for their next full album. (Aug. 27)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift

To buy the album, go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.centurymedia.com/

GRANDEUR, “Aurea Aetas” (Halo of Flies/Absolute Contempt): Halo of Flies was a favorite label of mine, but when they went dormant a few years ago, it cut off a flow of heavy releases that were exciting and you could feel positive were not made by a bunch of sketchy motherfuckers. So, we rejoiced when they reared their head again with Grandeur’s killer debut EP, 18 minutes of devastating black metal delivered by sole member Erech. The songs are inventive and volcanic, carving out your eyes and moving you with mystical yet melodic violence that hints at the promise of one of black metal’s next great hopes. This EP is still kicking our ass to this day. (June 13)

For more on the band, go here: https://grandeurbm.bandcamp.com/releases

To buy the album, go here: https://haloofflies.bandcamp.com/album/aurea-aetas

And here: https://absolutecontemptrecords.bandcamp.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://haloofflies.bandcamp.com/

Or here: https://absolutecontemptrecords.bandcamp.com/album/aurea-aeta

KATAAN, self-titled (Prosthetic): Vattnet Viskar seemed like the next huge thing in black metal several years ago, but it wasn’t meant to be, and they eventually dissolved. Out of that was born Kataaan, combining Nicholas Thornbury and Brett Boland (also of Astronoid) who served up their self-titled EP that felt like both an introduction and an appetizer into what they intend to do. Their death metal is adventurous and expansive, focusing on depression and dystopian trauma, using these four songs as both a wake-up call to an easily misled public and a quaking surge that art can be a way of breaking out of those doldrums and doing some damage of our own. Very excited for a full-length. (May 7)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/kataanband/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.prostheticrecords.com/

Other smaller releases we loved: Thou/Emma Ruth Rundle “The Helm of Sorrow”; Lady Beast “Omens”; Aduanten, “Sullen Cadence”; Witch Vomit “Abhorrent Rapture”; Dawn Ray’d “Wild Fire”; Rorcal/Earthflesh collaboration “Witch Coven”; Myopic/At the Graves collaboration “A Cold Sweat of Quiet Dread”

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