By Andrew Bansal
In addition to all the full-length albums that we listen to every year, there is also a whole lot of EP releases surfacing at the same time. These relatively much shorter releases serve as a great mid-point for bands between albums, and often present songs that couldn’t fit onto a past release but are strong enough to see the light of day. We’ve never done a list feature on EPs before, but since 2016 witnessed several undeniably excellent EPs by bands new and old, here is our first ever list of this kind, picking ten of the best from 2016.
10. Wings Denied – Voyager: Their immensely stellar debut album ‘Mirrors For A Prince’ landed them on Metal Assault’s radar in 2014, and the follow-up EP does not disappoint. Washington DC’s young progressive metal quintet Wings Denied take another step in the right direction with the 23-minute EP ‘Voyager’, presenting five well-crafted melodic, heavy and groovy tunes decorated by impressive musicianship and one of the finest clean-singing voices to have graced the scene in recent times. Following in the footsteps of their fellow DC proggers such as Animals As Leaders and Periphery, Wings Denied clearly have all it takes to carry modern prog forward into the near and distant future.
9. Ironaut – Iron Vessel: Only in their second year as a band, Los Angeles based stoner/sludge trio Ironaut released their second EP ‘Iron Vessel’ in 2016, and with it indicated that they’re here to stay. Ironaut features former Gypsyhawk and White Wizzard guitarist Erik Kluiber as bass playing lead singer, a new role he has exceeded expectations in with success, and has top class musicians in guitarist Patrick McHugh and drummer Ivan Najor by his side, the trio combining to create one unstoppable force. With just three songs spanning 15 minutes, Ironaut keep it short and deadly precise in ‘Iron Vessel’, and make their mark on those that worship the riff.
8. Lamb Of God – The Duke: While fans were still soaking in the monstrosity of the band’s 2015 full-length release ‘VII: Sturm Und Drang’, Richmond, Virginia metal heavyweights Lamb Of God came out with first ever EP ‘The Duke’ in 2016. Having dared to exhibit some of vocalist Randy Blythe’s clean-singing talents on the latest album, they’ve done much more of the same on the title song of this EP, probably the cleanest sung Lamb of God song released till date. This is a commendably brave step from them, considering their demographic, but the other new song ‘Culling’ is quintessentially power-packed Lamb of God and makes for a perfect balancing act. Three additional live songs round out the EP to deem it a very worthwhile release. When it comes to the so-called “mainstream” metal bands, Lamb Of God is one that deserves respect, and ‘The Duke’ is just another reason why.
7. Voivod – Post Society: Canadian greats Voivod unveiled their fifth EP ‘Post Society’ in 2016. Their first new release since the 2013 full-length ‘Target Earth’, this 30-minute EP retains Voivod’s reputation as one of the most dynamic composers in the genre, with four new original tunes blending the worlds of thrash, prog, doom and speed metal together into their own unique recipe. What’s more, if anyone wondered what a Hawkwind song would sound like if it was given the Voivod treatment, the ‘Post Society’ EP gives you the answer with a cover of ‘Silver Machine’. A classy release by a fantastic band.
6. Seven Kingdoms – In The Walls: As a precursor to the January 2017 release of their fourth full-length studio album ‘Decennium’, Deland, Florida power metal group Seven Kingdoms came out with a crowdfunded H.P. Lovecraft-inspired four-song EP this year, featuring two brand new compositions ‘In The Walls’ and ‘Undying’, along with re-recorded versions of two songs off of their 2007 debut LP ‘Brothers Of The Night’. This band was formed in 2007 and will soon mark one decade of their career, thus inspiring the title for the upcoming album, and the new music on this EP once again proves that Seven Kingdoms is the kind of band that makes you wonder why you didn’t discover them years earlier. With soaring female lead vocals, scintillating guitar work and a scorching rhythm section, this is traditional power metal at its definitive best.
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