By DJ Monk

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 Five 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?

The Outlines – ‘House Of Thieves’ (Self-Released)

Nottingham punks The Outlines trace their roots back to 2015, when guitarist Kyle Peters left Ferocious Dog and recruited old school friends Martyn Brown (bass) and Dean Hill (drums) for a new project. In the intervening period, the trio have released two full-length albums and an EP, which was designed to be the first in a series of three – of which ‘House Of Thieves’ is the second. Opener ‘Man Down’ kicks in with a massive bass rumble and a snappy snare, before Peters snarls his way out of the way of the speakers with archetypal punk rock fury, showing that the genre still has the capability to be angry and spiteful. ‘Mind Trip’ stomps, stinks and struts with furious intent, once again driven by Brown’s absolutely massive bass line, as is the closing title track. Overall, an entertaining listen and one which evokes the latter-day punk spirit with energy and fired-up intent.

  • ‘House Of Thieves’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

Lynchwood – ‘Breathe’ (One Eyed Toad)

Hailing from Colchester, Lynchwood play modern hardcore with a progressive twist, combining technicality with heavy ass riffage and an in your face, no nonsense approach to getting the job done. While there are elements of hardcore’s punk roots, particularly in the stabbing riffs which drive each of the four songs forward, there is also enough going on to keep the listener’s attention for the duration of their comparative length – all the tracks are in excess of four minutes, with the title track kicking in at a positively epic five minutes, unusual for the hardcore mien which tends more short-sharp shocks. What Lynchwood have mastered is the use of light and shade, contrasting heaviness with almost retrospective atmospherics. Having said that, there is more than enough blatant aggression, especially on the likes of ‘Psycho’, to also start a fair few throwdowns in the pit whenever these tunes are transferred to the live environment, making this a very neat balancing act.

Molly Karloff – ‘Supernaturalation’ (Molly Makes Records)

First coming to the Überverse’s attention in fine style with their debut EP, ‘Dancing For Money’ (and, no, it wasn’t a collection of Tina Turner covers!), back in 2018, Oxfordshire alt-rock trio Molly Karloff, are seeking to build momentum with this, their second, five-track offering. And they down their intent with the massive crunch of the EP’s title track, which heaves itself out of the speakers like a slowly awakening gorilla, before Simon Guillard’s snapping, snarling vocals grab your attention and lend a lighter pop-punk feel to the song’s generally grungy undercurrent. It’s quickly obviously the MK lads aren’t afraid to mix up the styles: classic rock riffs bounce in and out, wrapping around dense, almost stonerish bass lines, while there is a very definite all-rock vibe to the vocals and the song structures, which echo the likes of Shinedown and Muse as much as they do Stone Temple Pilots. A highly impressive effort which undoubtedly should help the Mollies take things to the next level.

ITUS – ‘Primordial’ (Self-Released)

ITUS is a new two-man doom project out of Toronto, who introduce themselves to the Überverse with a five-track EP that very much lives up to its title, drawn as it is from the primordial soup of the likes of Electric Wizard, Sleep, Windhand and their ilk. Massive crushing riffs heave themselves out of the primeval sludge that provides the sonic backdrop for this crushing aural assault, which seethes and broils around you like a pungent stew sucking you deep into the bowels of the cauldron in which it is simmering. There is superb use of sound effects to create ever denser layers of atmosphere, which in turn add to the hypnotic quality of the five tracks, which themselves flow with an natural ease and sense of purposeful progression, which makes this release all the more intimidating and impressive in equal measure.

  • ‘Primordial’ is released on Friday (13 March). You can get your copy HERE.

Sutrah – ‘Aletheia’ (The Artisan Era)

Near neighbours to ITUS, Montreal’s Sutrah come to us with a new EP which is not just seen as a follow-up or successor to their 2017 debut full-lengther, ‘Dunes’, but, in the band’s own words, a “second wave”. Their four tracks, or “variations” to again use their own terminology, of progressive death metal clock in at just short of half an hour, arguably pushing the boundaries of the term EP to the limit: but, then, closer ‘Genèse’ does clock in at an epic 15 minutes on its own! It is an intense, even claustrophobic listen, dense and hypnotic, atmospheric and challenging, demanding your undivided attention as you explore its nuances: yes, there is plenty of subtlety behind the initially brutal impact. The guitars twist and turn like writhing cobras, the drums pummel with the effectiveness of being hit with a concrete sledgehammer and the bass lines broil and seethe, while Laurent Bellemare’s vocals are towering and commanding, daring you to even think about glancing away from the magnificent horror being laid down before you. Titanic stuff.

  • ‘Aletheia’ is released on Friday (13 March). You can get your copy HERE.

The Suicide Notes – ‘Pleasures Of Despair’ (Quickfix Recordings)

Having, not so politely, introduced themselves to us with the opening two tracks on this debut EP, The Suicide Notes – the new project from former Black Bullets frontman Billy Tee – stick their cowboy boots very firmly in the doorway and wave a bottle of whiskey invitingly in our faces, asking “do you want some more”? Well, we ain’t sayin’ no… Coupling those two previously released songs, ‘Smoke It Like A Cigarette’ and ‘Take A Bullet’, with another studio session, ‘Momma Sang The Blues’, and a live session, ‘Ragdoll’, ‘Pleasures Of Despair’ inhabits the old school British blues-rock tradition inhabited by ÜR faves such as The Quireboys, The Peckham Cowboys and Dogs D’Amour. Filled to the brim with cocksure swagger, the songs strut their way outta your speakers, smooch their way around the room, stealing all your booze and cigarettes on their way into the deepest recesses of your aural cortexes. Tee’s voice sounds like he eats rather than smokes his nicotine, simultaneously gargling rusty tacks and washing the whole lot down with liberal amounts of that there moonshine. This is a great slice of acoustic rock ‘n’ roll, dragged straight out of the back alleys and into the backstreet bars, where it no doubt will take up residence for some considerable time to come. I look forward to hearing more from this bunch of reprobates.

Age Of Emergence – ‘The War Within Ourselves’ (Self-Released)

Australian power trio AOE have spent two years crafting this, the follow up to their 2017 debut offering, ‘Plea For A Dying World’. Like its predecessor, it takes the issue of climate change as its lyrical theme, and it’s obviously a subject about which the band cares passionately, given the venom with which some of the words are spat out. Musically, it’s a bit of mish-mash, with elements of progressive metal mixing with thrash, which in turn rubs shoulders with nu-metal and alt-rock, with much of the phrasing reminding of the likes of SOAD as much as the prog mien they perhaps seek to inhabit. With its five tracks clocking in at just shy of 27 minutes, ‘The War…’ is longer than some albums, and to that end feels somewhat overlong and drawn out, perhaps even outstaying its welcome. A bit of brevity in some departments may have had more impact.

  • ‘The War Within Ourselves’ is released on 27 March. You can get your copy HERE.

Lutharö – ‘Wings Of Agony’ (Self-Released)

Canada’s Lutharö take their name from the Elvish word for “enchanter” – and this, their second EP (although, again, at around 26 minutes, it’s practically a full album for some bands) is a thoroughly enchanting offering. Epic in its ambition, scope and delivery, it is a powerhouse of a release, combining elements of power metal and thrash with accurate alactrity. With each of the five songs linked by a theme of following your dreams and passions, it has a consistency of approach that permeates every pore of its being. The songs are superbly written and constructed, with plenty of thought put into them, and this is aided by the hugely complementary performances from each of the five band members, and especially the wonderful use of clean and growled vocals… sort of like Lacuna Coil but without the symphonic elements. This is a magnificent slice of powerful heavy metal from a band that deserve every accolade that will undoubtedly come their way when this hits the shelves at the end of the month. Glorious in extremis.

‘Wings Of Agony’ is released on 27 March. You can get your copy HERE.

Crimson Star – ‘The Olde Dawg’ (Self-Released)

With this, their third EP, Brummie power trio Crimson Star draw upon a myriad of influences to produce tsunamic grooves big enough to sink an ocean liner. Their sound is very much built on the crushing bass sound of Roj Ash, which is simply huge in both its delivery and execution. Underneath this, Chris Hopton definitely lives up to his nickname of “King Thumper”, delivering a drum sound that is as snappy as a crocodile and as precise as a world champion dart player hitting a 180. Over the top of these come Jay D Shaw’s guitar and vocals: the former are a combination of groovy riffs and impressive hooks, with any unnecessary extrapolation effectively eschewed, while the latter perfectly capture the atmosphere laid down on each of the three tracks. It’s a confident offering, accomplished in every department, with the only drawback being that it’s all over just as you are really getting into its groove… ah well, just flick that repeat button and enjoy it all over again.

  • ‘The Olde Dawg’ is released on 3 April. You can get your copy HERE.
  • Crimson Star play Gullivers in Manchester, with Mad Haven and She Burns Red, on Thursday 14 May and The Station in Cannock, with She Burns Red, on Friday 15 May.

False Hearts – ‘Remedy’ (Self-Released)

Hailing from Cambridgeshire, False Hearts play a brand of alt-rock that bristles with energy, verve and vim, supplemented by a shit tonne of balls, as emphasized right from the very beginning of the title track, and lead single, which reaches out of the speakers, grabs you by yours and gives you a damn good shaking. Underpinned with enough concrete solid rhythms to prop up a motorway flyover, each of the songs pump and thump their way into your aural cortexes and then declare squatters’ rights as they refuse to leave. Big hooks, massive melodies and infectious choruses deliver on every level, while the undoubted highlight is Emma Hodgson’s stunning vocal performance: the fact that she also plays guitar may lead to inevitable comparisons with Lzzy Hale, but Hodgson definitely, and defiantly, has her own identity, and it this that really helps to take this four-track offering to the next level. If you’re looking for a ‘Remedy’ for the dreaded coronavirus, Dr Monk recommends that you lock yourself in a room and turn this EP up LOUD!

  • ‘Remedy’ is released on 3 April. You can get your copy HERE.
  • False Hearts play the Crazy Cowboy 5 festival, with The Outlaw Orchestra, Fargo Railroad, Matty James Cassidy and more, at The Facebar in Reading on Saturday 28 March.

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