GBHBL’s Top 10 EPs of 2020

It’s this time of the year again! 2020 comes to a close and what a year it’s been for music. One of the strongest we’ve seen in some time. To the point where narrowing our lists down to just 10 EPs seemed like an impossible task. Yet, here we are. We managed it. What troopers we are.

As always, the two main music writers (Carl and Brendan) have combined our personal lists into one article. What was our personal choices for the best EP of 2020?

Read on and enjoy. We sure have.

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10 – Carl’s Choice
Empire Warning – Unite and Die (Self Released)

London’s Metal 2 The Masses 2019 winners Empire Warning stepped into 2020 with their brand new EP ‘Unite and Die’. Released on the 20th February 2020.

The strength in this EP comes from a unit that works impressively well together. The seamless blending of rapid fire riffs, substantial percussion and brusque-style vocals is pretty damn good.

The head begins to nod, the foot begins move, the fingers begin to tap out the beat and before you know, you’re up and ready to rage. Just wonderful. The best of the British underground has a new name joining them. Let’s welcome Empire Warning who have released an EP that is unmissable.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

10 – Brendan’s Choice
Fallen Earth by Groom Lake (Self Released)

Fallen Earth EP Groom Lake

The UK’s own, Groom Lake, really impressed with Fallen Earth. I must admit, I often think metalcore has run its course, or we have seen the best of it but then a band like this comes along and injects the genre with quality that cannot be ignored. Fallen Earth is a highly recommended release, not just for those fans of bands like While She Sleeps but also for fans of damn good metal. I can’t wait to see where these guys go from here.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

9 – Carl’s Choice
Priests of Prometheus – Lodestar (Self Released)

Lodestar is the debut EP of Justin ‘Turtle’ Wolz’s personal project, Priests of Prometheus. He has collected 4 of his more death metal songs although they don’t strictly adhere to the format. It was released on January 1st 2020.

The intimacy of the instruments clashing blends perfectly with the sickening and familiar feeling of intensity and speed. It’s raw and blood-thirsty but not without merit as Wolz constantly plays around with expectations.

It’s pretty damn special and further proof that Priests of Prometheus have begun 2020 with a bang.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

9 – Brendan’s Choice
Neurosis – The Trial (Living Metal Productions)

The Trial Neurosis

The Trial surprised me in just how much I loved it. I knew I would like it. I’m a fan of the Colombian thrashers but enough that I thought a 4 track of raw sounding Neurosis should be a fun listen and probably a solid 7 out of 10. I was wrong. The Trial is insanely listenable. The filthy tones, the screaming solos, the growls and roars, it is a fantastic release.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

8 – Carl’s Choice
Zeal and Ardor – Wake of a Nation (Self Released)

Wake of a Nation Zeal and Ardor

Released on the 23rd of October, Zeal and Ardor once again show themselves to be one of the most unique and important bands in modern metal with Wake of a Nation.

In Wake of a Nation, Zeal and Ardor look at the horrors of modern society and deliver a powerful and emotional statement. One rooted in reality and modern times but portrayed in their stunningly unique way.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

8 – Brendan’s Choice
Ihsahn – Telemark (Candlelight Records)

Ihsahn Telemark

 

Ihsahn released 2 Eps in 2020 but only 1 gets anywhere near my top lists. Telemark is a brilliant EP from one of the greatest metal artists alive today. Two good covers prop up the back end of Telemark but this is all about the first three, original songs. They are clever, fresh, exhilarating, heavy, progressive, interesting……. You name a superlative, it probably fits. This is Ihsahn at his best. With a touch of Emperor but layers of his own personality all over it. A fantastic EP.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

7 – Carl’s Choice
Soul Dissolution – Winter Contemplations (Viridian Flame Records)

Two years after their previous release, Soul Dissolution returned with a brand new EP. Titled “Winter Contemplations”. Released on the 12th of November 2020.

Gloomy and meditative, beautifully chilling, haunting and deeply moving, the two tracks on offer here reflect fragility in the most thought-provoking of ways. In a short amount of time, the depth of a wintery cold wind is felt in the soul and the sorrow is all-consuming. The powerful melodies working in tandem with the influence of the black metal side of things is every bit as elegant and lavish as you could hope it to be.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

7 – Brendan’s Choice
Chaos Over Cosmos – II (Self Released)

I really like Chaos Over Cosmos. Their debut was a banger and this is just as good. Maybe better. They have a real talent for blending different elements and the EP comes across with a science fiction edge, blazing guitars and strong vocals. Layered and expansive are words that suit Chaos Over Cosmos well but mostly it is just really damn good to listen to.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

6 – Carl’s Choice
Aborted – La Grande Mascarade (Century Media Records)

Aborted La Grande Mascarade

Belgian death metallers, Aborted dropped a new EP called La Grande Mascarade. Released on the 17th of April 2020.

La Grande Mascarade gives us three new passages of brutality, two brand new tracks and 1 unheard track from the TerrorVision sessions. The vocals are hellish, coming at a fast pace and in different tones on an EP that takes no prisoners. You just get bludgeoned repeatedly by a violent assault of extreme metal.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

6 – Brendan’s Choice
Empire Warning – Unite and Die (Self Released)

The London based band released an absolute corker of an EP back in February this year. It really is an exciting release with a glorious balance between hard hitting groove and melodic metal. When they turn the heavy on, they really do shake you to the core but the real payoff comes with how they blend those crushing moments with choruses that get stuck in your head and guitar leads and solos that make you look longingly at the dusty guitar you still swear you will learn to play one day.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

5 – Carl’s Choice
Swamp Thief – Swamp Thief I (Self Released)

Swamp Thief are a two-piece heavy rock band from Swansea, South Wales, playing a blend of sludgy, down-tuned riffs. They have released their debut collection of recordings, titled Swamp Thief I on October 17th 2020.

With enough rumble and fuzz to make your fillings ache. Swamp Thief announce themselves on the UK sludge scene in some manner. This 4-track EP is caked in swampy and sludgy goodness. Rumbling bass layered over greasy riffs with welcome varying vocals, the lead clean and clear but helped here and there by a gruffer and more distanced voice.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

5 – Brendan’s Choice
Saurr – Twisted (Self Released)

Twisted by Saurr

Yet another insanely talented UK band make the list. This time it’s Manchester’s Saurr and what a phenomenal release Twisted is. It’s so clever and meticulously crafted, displaying insanely intelligent musicianship while also satisfying the more primal urges that want to just scream and release emotion. Saurr really are a force of nature, enveloping the listener in a fog of thick groove and powerful atmospherics. Expect to be emotionally challenged as you become engrossed in the swirling vortex of carefully crafted and impactful metal thrust at you. Easily one of the best releases of the year.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

4 – Carl’s Choice
Rise To The Sky – A Cold Embrace From Life (Self Released)

Rise to the Sky is the solo project of Chilean musician Sergio G whose new EP, “A Cold Embrace From Life” was released on December 18th 2020.

An epic and sub-zero doom EP, A Cold Embrace from Life is a crushing listen but not just because of the heavy doom aspect. No, because it is littered with profound and poignant melodies that add so much emotional value to each of the four tracks.

There isn’t a moment on this EP that won’t leave some mark in some way or another. Even if all you’re interested in is some enormous, bludgeoning doom metal. Relax, there’s plenty of unbelievably heavy noise to enjoy here.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

4 – Brendan’s Choice
Kalahari – Theia (Self Released)

Kalahari Theia Band

The Italian metallers released their debut, Theia, in June this year. The whole of Theia comes across like a release from a band with 20 years professional studio experience under their belt not a debut. I adore this EP. Brilliant vocal with mixes of tones and depths. Catchy riffs, loads of transitions, huge bass groove, traditional sounding solos and immense drumming. All combined into cleaver and exciting song structures that grab your attention from the early notes and hold it all the way through. A real band to watch out for in the future.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

3 – Carl’s Choice
Grimgotts – Legends (Self Released)

London symphonic power metal band Grimgotts released their new EP ‘Legends’ on December 11th, 2020, the third in a trilogy of EPs. Preceded by Tales and Sagas.

The best release yet? The argument is there. However, no-one will be able to dispute just how classy and fun this EP is. If you’ve not had the chance to hear what Grimgotts are capable of, then this trio of releases are a must. Hell, next year we’ll get them as a complete album!

You can read our full review of the EP here.

3 – Brendan’s Choice
Of Sunless Realms by Inferi (The Artisan Era)

Inferi of Sunless Realms

I remember just how blown away I was by the Nashville melodeath band, Inferi when I first heard Of Sunless Realms. It’s the perfect blend of melody and metal, classic at heart but elevated to a higher place with its intelligent structures and progressive ideas. It is a remarkable release and I still have to pick my jaw up from the floor when I listen to a track from it these days. A wonderful example of melodic death metal and one of the very best of the best of 2020.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

2 – Carl’s Choice
Chaos Over Cosmos – II (Self Released)

Chaos Over Cosmos delivers Sci-Fi progressive metal. II was released on May 1st 2020. The best work Chaos Over Cosmos have produced, it gets the hairs standing up on the body.

When the metal hits, it’s got a real progressive shine to it. The guitars complex and layered, backed up by strong percussion and powerful vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on a death metal record.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

2 – Brendan’s Choice
To Kill Achilles – Oh God, I’ve Never Felt This Low (Arising Empire)

To Kill Achilles Oh God I've Never Felt So Low

The Scottish post hardcore/metalcore band really blew me away with Oh God, I’ve Never Felt This Low. The EP is amazingly intense, interesting and emotional to listen to. It makes you think, makes you feel and reflect. Any release that has such a profound effect on your emotional state deserves high praise. It genuinely had a profound impact on me this year and could easily have been my number 1 EP of the year. Insane talent.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

1 – Carl’s Choice
Dyatlove – Dyatlove (Self Released/Coup Sur Coup Records)

Released on May 29th 2020. Every band says they don’t want to be pigeon-holed and that they draw inspiration from a wide array of genres. However, few are able to actively showcase that in such a concise and consistent way. An eclectic blend of progressive rock, post hardcore, melodramatic melodies, doom, metal and more.

You can read our full review of the EP here.

1 – Brendan’s Choice
Aborted – La Grande Mascarade (Century Media Records)

Aborted La Grande Mascarade

Belgian death metal band, Aborted, released the best EP of 2020 for me, just beating To Kill Achilles to top spot. It is short, with just 3 tracks on it but hey, quality over quantity here and all three tracks are insanely heavy and impactful. Aborted don’t pull any punches and just hammer you with three tracks of intense heaviness, hellish vocals, pummelling drums and guitars that offer blazing solos and crunching riffs in tandem. It is an EP to let loose to and really deserves a mosh pit. A fine example of fire and fury and my favourite EP of this year.

You can read our full review of the EP here.




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