BEST OF 2013: The year’s most explosive EPs and mini-releases

There has been a ton of great metal in 2013, and much of that didn’t come way of a full-length record, like we highlighted yesterday in our best splits roundup. Today, we take a look at the best EPs and mini-releases that passed our way in 2013, all of which have remained in regular rotation and likely will for the foreseeable future. If you missed out on any of these releases, definitely correct that error as early as possible.

ash borer cover

Last year, Ash Borer dropped their second full-length “Cold of Ages” on us, and was it ever destructive. This year, we got the “Bloodlands” EP (out on Gilead Media) that actually managed to up the ante from what they did last year and continued on their bizarre, black metal-laced trip into your psyche to totally destroy you. If I had to pick an absolute favorite EP of 2013, this would be the one, and it’s spent a ton of time on my turntable ever since it arrived. At two tracks and nearly 35 minutes, it’s actually as long as many punk and hardcore full-lengths, and each scorching minute of “Oblivion’s Spring” and “Dirge/Purgation” provides atmospheric depth, scathing decibolic torture, and sprawling black metal madness in a way only Ash Borer can provide. This will fuck you up, mind, body, and soul. It’s that diabolical.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ash-Borer/156748071045193

To buy the album, go here: http://psychicviolence.bigcartel.com/product/ash-borer-bloodlands-12

For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/

Caina cover

Is it ever great to have Andrew Curtis-Brignell back making music and scaring the unholy shit out of us with his Caïna project. We’ll give this release a more thorough look the first week of January, so I won’t to delve too deeply into why Caïna had gone dark for a while, but he just delivered an unbelievable 25-minute EP called “Earth Inferno,” culled from previously unreleased tracks and some new stuff. These five tracks are urgent, propulsive, wonderfully charred black metal that churns and burns, showing a more violent side to Caïna, and even reaching back to the second wave’s deadly days (“Conqueror Worm” is an early favorite of mine). If you like your black metal lo-fi, crushing, and seemingly raging off the rails with ill intent, this EP should do it for you. Can’t wait for the upcoming full-length album.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ca%C3%AFna/243004082514

To buy the album, go here: http://churchoffuck.bigcartel.com/

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

liar in wait cover

I feel like everyone just fell asleep on the Liar in Wait EP “Translations of the Lost.” Is it because it’s not really a metal album and more of a dark rock, post-punk, and cold wave album? I don’t get why it hasn’t gotten more coverage, because it is a fucking great release that I listen to a ton, especially if I’m driving late at night and I want to see spirits in the road (I mean, come on, how cool is “Conversations in Violet”?). The songs are drab, hopelessly melodic, and a total downer emotionally, which I find irresistible about the thing. The band is made up of current and past members of bands such as Wolvhammer, Nachtmystium, Mourner, and Iron Thrones, and if you wanted a modern record to go alongside, say, your old Cure, Smiths, Swans, and Sisters of Mercy albums, this is it. It’s cold, isolating, and impossible to get out of your bloodstream. I’m looking forward to more from this band.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liar-In-Wait/190183801106266

To buy the album, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

possession

It’s tough to get to every release, every year around here, so sometimes things slip through the cracks review-wise. That’s why now is a good time to catch up, and we’re doing so with “His Best Deceit,” this filth, unholy slab of black and death metal by Belgium newcomers Possession. This sounds like it was hellspawned in the early 1980s, when Hellhammer still were cutting their teeth, then jettisoned through the ages, with all the piss, venom, and anger it could conjure as it traveled. The opening sounds like someone dying to the strains of a church choir, and from there it’s unadulterated speed, freaking violence, deathly intent, and pure metal that should make you want to light your car on fire and drive it down a hill into other cars, lighting those on fire in the process. This is all while you have this album running, fueling every ounce of hate in your body. This band is not to taken lightly, and is yet another indication that everything Iron Bonehead puts into the market is worth your time. Possession flat out destroys everything.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.possessionrealm.com/

To buy the cassette, go here: http://ironbonehead.de/shop/

To buy the slim-case CD version, go here: http://www.invictusproductions.net/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=30&products_id=3123

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

grayceon cover

We hadn’t heard from Grayceon since their powerful 2011 album “All We Destroy,” but there was a pretty damn good reason for that. Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz became a mother for the first time, and you know, there are things that are a little more important than heavy metal sometimes. So while she concentrated on her family life, she obviously still had musical ideas rolling around in her head, and we got to hear those on the band’s “Pearl and the End of Days” EP that dropped in February. The two-track offering is a nice appetizer for anyone waiting for a full-length, and it also contains moments where the band let their hair down and had some fun. First, “Pearl,” named after her daughter, lets Gratz really branch out vocally, as her band rushes behind her for one of the band’s most inspired song ever. And that’s saying something. Yet, “End of Days” let them have some tongue-in-cheek fun about the power of rock and metal, and if you can’t crack a smile listening, you may need to loosen up. Word is a new album is in the works.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.grayceon.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://store.theflenser.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://theflenser.com/

Like with the split releases, there are just too damn many to give full treatment here because we’d be here all day, but some other great ones you might want to check out, if you haven’t already, include: The Body’s sludgy, terrifying “Master, We Perish,” that would pave the way for their latest full-length “Christs, Redeemers”; Immortal Bird’s debut “Akrasia,” that we just reviewed last week (just scroll down a little if you want to read our full thoughts) and praised for its excellent mix of death, prog, black metal, and inner rage; Nocturno Culto’s super fun new project Gift of Gods and the debut EP “Receive,” that carries over Darkthrone’s penchant for pure 1980s death and thrash metal, and even includes one of the more interesting cover songs of the year; as well as Wreck and Reference’s morbid two-track effort “No Content.”

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