My Top 5 EPs of 2016

As 2016 draws to an end, it’s time to reflect on those bite seize musical servings that have wowed me in six songs or less.

5) When the Smoke Clears by Sick of It All

When the Smoke Clears is a more traditional push in an era of new, upcoming bands and you better believe NYHC band Sick of It All are about to school your arse. Putting more of an emphasis on aggressive punk riffs and being less assertive on the hefty breakdown culture of more recent hardcore, the EP has a fresh yet familiar feel to it. However you’ll still find plenty of fist pounding riffs, anti-establishment lyrics and old school breakdowns throughout the eleven minute EP. Thirty years is a long time and Sick of It All showing that they can still produce some damn good music.

(Full Review Here: My Review of When The Smoke Clears by Sick Of It All)

4) Friday 13th by Misfits

I love the Friday 13th film series and I love horror punk pioneers the Misfits. So a combination of the two was a must have for me. Were as some people consider anything post Danzig as inferior, I personally loved the Graves and Only era Misfits just as much. This EP is a fantastic blend of all eras. You have the fast paced punk attitude of the past with its slightly unclean DIY sound. Yet you can’t help but echoes of former vocalist Michale Graves singing over the controlled chaos. Like any good Misfits material all the songs are based with horror and sci-fi culture in mind with songs. Two songs are even  about two of the best slasher films of all times, the titular track and Nightmare On Elm Street. This EP would be a great edition anyone’s Misfits  or punk playlists.

3) The Duke by Lamb of God

The only downside to this EP was that it only featured two new songs, The Duke and a song from earlier in the bands history. The titular track is a fantastic change of pace from what we are use to from Lamb of God. Cleaner and more melodic than all out riffage. But the show stealer has got to be Culling. A previously unreleased song from way back in the Wrath era and, oh, it is glorious. A thrashy, death metaly blend of driven guitars, huge drumming and that signature Randy Blythe scream.  Throw in live recordings of Still Echoes, 512 and Engage The Fear Machine and you have a recipe for a bloody good EP. My need for riffage has been subdued… for now.

2) Unrelenting Force by Guilt Trip

Unrelenting Force was released in the same year as Guilt Trips debut album Weight of Abjection. It would seem the Manchester four piece was able to strike gold twice in 2016. These guys are one of the reasons I recommend browsing Bandcamp, as you never know when you are going to stumble on something awesome. Unrelenting Force is an example of how a perfect blend of  heavy hitting riffs, mosh ready breakdowns and interesting bridges can make for one hell of an EP. Not to mention the plunging whammy of Disdain which still gets me no matter how many times I play it. For me Guilt Trip are a band I will be paying close attention to from now on. This EP was just killer, a masterful handling of hardcore.

(Full Review Here: My Review of Unrelenting Force by Guilt Trip)

1) Better Ash Than Dust by Stick To Your Guns

It was a new record label and material for Stick To Your Guns this year, but of course Better Ash Than Dust maintained that iconic punchy sound that we have come to love. Stick To Your Guns seemed to have hit the nail on the head with their sound. Songs like Universal Language and Never Ending Story are nothing we haven’t heard before it has just been refined to a point. It is as if they took Disobedient, an equally brilliant album, and used it as the foundation for the EP. Better Ash Than Dust is jam packed with catchy choruses, memorable riffs and perfectly placed breakdowns. If you are looking for one of the finest examples of melodic hardcore then look no further than Stick To Your Guns, as their latest effort is a great starting point for any new listeners .

(Full Review Here: My Review of Better Ash Than Dust by Stick To Your Guns)

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