We’re in the dying days of 2012 and a couple of things are certain – numerous Christmas advertisements and the hassle of this season in general, more cold weather and of course, end of year lists. It’s around now that we’re all supposed to say that it’s been a good/bad year. First off, there’s no such thing as a bad year for music so there’s no point in even entertaining that idea. Maybe you just need your ears examined. There’s always exciting new music, you just have to make a little (only a little) effort to get stuck into it sometimes. 2012 has been no different.
Much like last year’s lists on this blog, they will be split into three parts, but a little differently. You may have noticed that there’s no Top Irish Releases post starting us off. Don’t despair, I’ll be doing that for the good folks at CVLT Nation in the coming weeks. This evening though, we start with the top 10 EPs of the year. Tomorrow there’ll be a double whammy with a top five demos and five splits of the year and on Wednesday, the granddaddy of the lot – The Top 25 Albums of the Year. Don’t get too excited now, clean up that mess and put your reading eyeballs in, it’s only the start.
Read on, enjoy/hate, feel free to agree or disagree, and as ever, leave death threats in the comment section below.
10: Axis of Light – By The Hands of the Consuming Fire
By The Hands of the Consuming Fire, the first EP from Manchester’s Axis of Light, is simply raw and unforgiving black metal, played from a heart of darkness. At just 15 minutes, these four songs of vile hatred get straight to the point with skin flaying buzzsaw riffs and hellish shrieks from the abyss making up the assault from start to finish. By The Hands of the Consuming Fire is just agonising.
09: Braveyoung – Will The Dust Praise You
Will The Dust Praise You is one of the late contenders for this list, only being released online in recent weeks. Braveyoung’s album We Are Lonely Animals was rightfully a highlight last year for the ambient post rock band and this EP sees them explore more of that album’s more subdued sides with beautiful string and piano arrangements abound. Hopefully, it’s only a stopgap for a new full-length record.
08: Them Martyrs – Wretched
Galway’s Them Martyrs are definitely one of the best hardcore bands in the country, and it’s more than evidenced by this new EP – Wretched. After French Extremity, and two releases under the name Les Christpunchers, the band has easily topped them with this EP, even with just four tracks. It’s short and concise but still loaded with instantly memorable tunes like ‘Back Masking’ and ‘Ghost Walk’.
07: Flourishing – Intersubjectivity
Intersubjectivity is another late arrival to this year’s releases, only landing about two weeks ago courtesy of The Path Less Traveled records. It certainly had heavy expectations, considering last year’s The Sum of All Fossils was a death metal highlight. This EP follow-up does a lot to build upon the myriad ideas that were prevalent on that album with the band clearly forging a new path for the future, one equally of discordance and beauty. Flourishing have a rather apt name because their music has flourished sublimely with each release and a new full-length is something I’m particularly eager to hear from them.
06: She Said Destroy – Bleeding Fiction
She Said Destroy had pretty much dropped off the radar since their 2008 album This City Speaks In Tongues, which was quite a shame for the Norwegian experi-metallers. Come January 2012 though, they’ve re-emerged with a vengeance and style shift in the shape of the 27 minute one track EP, Bleeding Fiction. Titanic sludgy grooves are slowed down to a more lethargic pace and the band are drawing less and less from the death and black metal influences of before, crafting an effort that’s more akin to Cult of Luna than anything else, and the conclusion of Bleeding Fiction is simply crushing. What’s next for She Said Destroy?
05: Agalloch – Faustian Echoes
Agalloch have yet to put out a bad record and 2010’s full-length offering Marrow of the Spirit was more than evidence of that and the trajectory they find themselves on. The band aren’t usually that prolific, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that the band followed this album up with an EP less than two years on. The EP in question is the one 21 minute track Faustian Echoes, a glorious trek that distils all of Agalloch’s blackened and gloomy strengths into one captivating work.
04: Ruined Families – Untitled 7”
Have a quick look back at the review for Ruined Families’ 7” in June, and you’ll find a fair few comparisons made between this band and the state of their homeland, Greece. This remains the case. Ruined Families are fury incarnate. Of all the great hardcore records released this year, Ruined Families’ 7” shoves its way to the top alongside others of a similar caustic aggression. The band are simply fucking unruly and belligerent and this EP has so much hate and hostility, but still sincere passion, seeping from every crevice that it’s almost scary to think what the next record will be like.
03: Chrome Waves – Chrome Waves
If you insist on using the term ‘supergroup’ then this one of them – Chrome Waves, with members of Nachtmystium, The Atlas Moth, and Wolvhammer. Very much rooted in black metal, Chrome Waves still blossom into territories occupied by the band members’ day jobs, call it post black metal, again if you insist. The vocals are almost typical BM in their approach, but at the same time there’s riffing that’s not a million miles away from Isis. Granted, it can be a tired formula at this point but somehow Chrome Waves have made it interesting in a sea of similar bands. No easy feat.
02: Faith Addiction – Order From Chaos
Featuring members of Cellgraft (who put out a phenomenal LP this year too, it must be said), Faith Addiction’s EP is grindcore that is equally as fucking relentless. In a similar way to the Ruined Families EP, mentioned earlier, this is just far too short and there’s an overwhelming urgency and impassioned fury at play here that makes each song a pulverising onslaught. Eight tracks, about six minutes overall – no nonsense.
01: A Pregnant Light – Death My Hanging Doorway
If you’re looking for an in depth analysis of why this EP is taking the top spot, then you’d do well to click HERE, but for those who missed it; Death My Hanging Doorway is the 21 minute one track EP from A Pregnant Light, which sees the one man band step farther away from black metal into another realm, one that is starting to take shape now with subsequent releases and who knows where he’s going next. Stunning stuff.