For many years, the EP – or ‘Extended Player’, to give it its full title – was a criminally overlooked format. But, in recent years, it has made something of a deserved comeback, as bands face the challenge of continually producing new material but often not being able to commit to the cost of, or time to, recording full-length albums.
It’s a format which Über Rock has long championed: hell, we have a ‘Top EPs’ category in our annual end-of-year writers’ poll – but, as a busy website, it is often difficult to justify devoting space to the more miniature format. So, in the return of our occasional feature – and what will probably (with our reputation) be an irregular one – I gave a listen to some of the EPs that have crossed my desk in recent weeks. So, without further ado, let’s see what recent and forthcoming releases are lying around ÜRHQ, shall we?
An Unction iN Braille – ‘The Wordless Whisper’ (Self-Released)
New England deathcore perturbators AUiB don’t fuck about in terms of coming to the point, getting straight to it with unrestrained aggression and no-holds-barred attitude on this, their impressive debut offering. Melding grind and death into one ugly brute of a bastard child, this is five short, sharp shocks to your aural cortexes, simultaneously triggering your neck muscles into full-on, involuntary ‘banging mode as the likes of ‘Catharsis’ and ‘Sickening Sweet’ live up to their titles with their mixture of ultraviolent beatdowns and the sort of catchiness that would make Covid retreat back to where it came from.
- ‘The Wordless Whisper’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
Kid Dad – ‘Bloom’ (Long Branch Records)
There’s a saying that you should never fuck with the formula… well, Germany’s Kid Dad obviously didn’t get that particular memo, as they have used the Covidications of the past two years to do just that… fuck with their previous post-hardcore sound, that is. The band describe this EP as “a blooming bouquet of five very different flowers that blossom into very different colours”, and that is as apt a summation as I can match. Opener ‘Apartment’, for example, is elegant art-pop, while they spend so much time staring at their shoes on ‘As Soon As America’ that Jimmy Choo could hire them for quality control. Only new single, ‘Wire & Guns’, really hints at their previous sound. A brave step.
- ‘Bloom’ is released on 10 December. You can get your copy HERE.
- Kid Dad tour in January, with dates in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield and Islington.
Memorist – ‘Oni//Kijo’ (Year Of The Rat Records)
Taking their name from frontman Jon’s apparent inability to forget, this sextet from south-west England plough a furrow that lies somewhere between old-school metalcore and progressive metal, filling their grooves with concrete-heavy riffs mixed (sic) with huge harmonies and massively memorable choruses that linger in your aural cortexes long after the last note has faded from ÜRHQ’s towering speaker stacks. A powerful and impactful debut from a young band who undoubtedly will become an equally powerful force on the ÜK alt-metal scene.
- ‘Oni//Kijo’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
M(h)aol – ‘Gender Studies’ (Tulle Records)
If there is one country in the world where you would expect it to be extremely difficult to speak out about issues such as gender identity, sexual abuse, sexual freedom and so forth, it would be one which historically has been gripped by the seemingly all-powerful force of the Roman Catholic church, with its history of stymying rebellion and even conversation about such issues. But Ireland is a country with a history of rebelling against the establishment – and winning. Named after an Irish folk hero, M(h)aol – pronounced “male” – are the latest in a line of bands from the Emerald Isle, both north and south, to confront issues such as misogynism, transphobia and victim-blaming within a society which traditionally has shied away from such issues. They do so to powerful effect, with this challenging debut EP, which melds post-punk nihilism with acerbic, often spoken vocals and pointedly laconic harmonies.
- ‘Gender Studies’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
Neptune Rain – ‘Chaos And Light (Extended Edition)’ (Self-Released)
Neptune Rain have exploded out of both the lockdowns of the past 20+ months and the sleepy hollows of Cheltenham with ferocity, as exemplified by this angst-fuelled debut, which treads a path somewhere ‘twixt the nu-metal musings of Linkin Park and Papa Roach and the progressive metalcore bravado of the likes of BMTH and 30STM. The result is a brave and daring declaration of intent, with the likes of current single ‘Rise’ and the powerful ‘Nothing Left To Save’ particularly impactful. And I would love to see the two demos included on this re-issued edition extrapolated further, as ‘Taste Of Air’ in particular has the potential to be what the hip kids refer to as a “monster banger”.
- ‘Chaos And Light’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
The Catechists – ‘Faded Away… Rust And Strings’ (Tortonia Records)
This Italian trio play the sort of gothic-infused, acoustic-led blues rock that would serve equally well on the soundtrack to a Sergio Leone reboot as it would that for a pilgrimage through the darkest heart of the Mojave or a late-night moonshine session on a Bayou porch. Combining elements of Nick Cave, Dr John, Gibbons, Hank III and Tom Waits, ‘Faded Away…’ is a lyrically eloquent EP, despite English not being their first language, matched by superb musicianship which really hits the spot in terms of creating that Americana vibe.
- ‘Faded Away… Rust And Strings’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
Varius – ‘Concordance’ (Self-Released)
The concept behind this four-track EP is actually quite an interesting one, as each member of the band brought a song to the table, each in turn reflecting their own lyrical and musical influences, resulting in an offering which encompasses several different miens and themes but at the same time stays true to the overall melodeath they established on their debut EP. Thus, opener ‘Golden Crown’ has its roots in DM-infused classic metal, while ‘Concordance Of The Legionfall’ veers very much into the symphonic blackened metal style of the likes of Dimmu Borgir, counterpointing yet complimenting the dense doom groove of ‘Lament Of Dissonance’ and the nihilistic dynamism of ‘Gut Shoveler’. The result is a surprisingly cohesive and coherent appetizer for what this multi-talented band have to offer.
- ‘Concordance’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
Whatever, Forever – ‘Slowly Dying With You’ (Self-Released)
Hailing from the land down under (sic), this young troupe deliver a sound that treads a path that takes them, and us, along the borders of the progressive alt-rock of Muse and the new age metalcore of BMTH, with the acerbic intensity of the Manics thrown in for good measure. Crunching riffs are counterpointed by a dramatic use of atmospherics, while power pop-infused melodies bounce off acidic harmonies. Comparisons have made elsewhere to the like of the Deftones, and I have to admit that these are justifiable in their own right but shouldn’t be seen as a constriction as they have a defiant sound of their own that will help bring them to wider audiences.
- ‘Slowly Dying With You’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
Witch Fever – ‘Reincarnate’ (Music For Nations)
Manchester quartet Witch Fever meld the ergonomics of furious Riot Grrl-style punk to an underlying trad-doom feel, combining the hypnotic heaviness of the latter with the abrasive, politically charged aggression of the former in a way which, quite mysteriously, works on all levels. Directly addressing issues such as empowerment, the vocal squeals are underpinned with a dense, rhythmic fuzziness which helps to ram the songs’ messages home power and ferocity. If you’re a fan of the likes of Idles, Hands Off Gretel, etc. then you should be making sure you’re not vaccinated against a severe dose of Witch Fever…
- ‘Reincarnate’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
Well, that’s your lot for this time around. We hope you’ve found some new and exciting sounds to tickle your aural cortexes. If you like what you’ve heard, please remember to support the bands and click the buy links at the end of each review. We should be back before the end of the year with another round up of the hottest EPs to have come our way – although, with our reputation, it might be 2024 before the next feature appears! Until then (whenever it is), keep ‘er lit, keep ‘er between the hedges and keep on rockin’ and rollin’ with the website the annoys the trolls like no other can hope to do…
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