It’s hard to believe but 2021 is officially only four weeks from its big finale. One can only hope that moving forward from here into 2022, that sooner rather than later, we’ll finally be rid of this COVID-19 crap and life can finally go back to what it was. Time will tell. In the meantime, this critic has checked over his calendar for the year’s waning weeks, and surprisingly, there are no more new EPs to go through for the year. That means it is finally time to start in on this year’s “best of” year-ender lists. Of course, as in every year past, the very first of those lists comes in the form of the smallest of the music releases noted.
This year’s list of new EPs features new releases from at least one relatively well-known figure and a number of others who are either up-and-coming or semi-established. They run the gamut from family music to pop to rock and metal to even some southern rock/country. These lists are never easy to finalize because even among the EPs there is so much to appreciate musically and lyrically. That was taken into full consideration with this list, too. Those who have followed this critic’s ramblings for years on end, know how the lists work. For everyone else, they work as such: Instead of just 10 new offerings, this list is composed of 15 titles. The top 10 are the best of the best while the following five are honorable mention titles. This is not a stab at those releases or the acts that released them, either. Far from it. The whole purpose is to give those extras their due credit, too.
So without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New EPs of 2021.
PHIL’S PICKS 2021 TOP 10 NEW EPS
SaulPaul – OK To Be Different
Gabriel & The Apocalypse – Alpha Transcendence
Decent Criminal – Decent Criminal
The Mercy Kills – New Rule
Dirkschneider & The Old Gang – Arising
Repentance – Volume 1 – Reborn
All Hail The Yeti – Within The Hollow Earth
Kulick – Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse
Blue Eyed Christ – World on Fire Remixes
Zero Theorum – The Killing II
Sydney Sherwood – Headspace
Christopher Shayne – Ten High
20 Watt Tombstone – Year of the Jackalope
Post Death Soundtrack – Pathless Land
Black TarPoon – The Thad
That’s it for this year’s top new EPs. Thanks goes out to all of the firms that sent out this great music and so much more. No offense is meant to any act left out. For instance Of Mice & Men released a trio of new EPs this year, but they ended up as the new album, Echo, so that album is up for consideration among this critic’s top new hard rock/metal albums of the year. Even more year-enders are on their way as the last days of the year start to wind down, so stay tuned!
Independent industrial act Post Death Soundtrack unveiled the first preview of its upcoming album It Will Come Out of Nowhere this week. The duo – Jon Ireson and Steve Moore – offered up the preview Friday in the form of its EP Pathless Land. More single than EP, the three-song record features one of the noted album’s singles – ‘Pathless Land’ – and two remixes thereof. The 16-minute record is a presentation that will appeal to fans of the duo’s contemporaries, such as Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Gravity Kills. That is proven in all three of the song’s takes as well as its lyrical content. The production in each rendition brings everything today, completing the record’s presentation. All things considered, the EP is a work that is a strong first impression for the duo’s album.
Post Death Soundtrack’s new EP Pathless Land is a positive first impression for the duo’s forthcoming album It Will Come Out of Nowhere, which is expected for release Feb. 15 on limited 2LP release. It is such a promising preview of the record in part because of its musical arrangements. All three takes of the EP’s title track gives audiences something different from one take to the next. The rendition that features in the album is a keyboard driven work that opens, sounding like something out of the 1980s. However, as the vocals (including the dual-lined chant of “Freedom”) are added to the mix, that sound turns more into something akin to the industrial sounds of the early 90s. The comparison here to works from Nine Inch Nails is unavoidable.
The “Sovereign Mix” of ‘Pathless Land’ maintains the noted Nine Inch Nails comparison, but also adds in a bit of a Ministry influence, too. That is evidenced in t he steady, plodding keyboard line that hits with the force of a hammer. The ambient vibe that the rest of the song exhibits also presents hints of Stabbing Westward and Gary Numan’s influence to a slightly lesser degree. It is a take that holds its own against the album’s rendition and proves just as engaging as that take.
The “Lit Beacon” take of ‘Pathless Land’ is just as unique as the song’s “Sovereign Mix.” What makes this version stand out so much is its semi-acoustic approach. That subtle approach conjures thoughts of Nine Inch Nails’ more subdued works circa 1994, the year that the band released its landmark album The Downward Spiral. The brooding nature in the arrangement makes this take one of those works that is so heavy without being heavy and will prove just as engaging for PDS’ target audience as the other two takes of ‘Pathless Land.’ All things considered, the three different takes on the song form a strong foundation for the EP. The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical content (in all its forms) adds even more to the EP’s engagement and entertainment value.
Not all of the lyrical content featured in the song is capable of deciphering without a lyrics sheet to reference. However, from what one can understand, the song’s lyrical content comes across as being decidedly introspective. At one point, the song notes, “From the need to fight/From manic desire/From climbing ever higher/From the mantis bride/From the human…From trouble…/From the fatal flaw/From temples of might…From the seekers of truth/From the altar of youth…” There are mentions of Christ and Allah from there and “lifeless praise” here, too. Simply put, what this song does lyrically is something completely unlike anything else out there today. Thankfully, information provided about the song’s lyrical content does explain the cryptic language. The information cites Moore as saying about the song that, “‘Pathless Land’ is a little song full of unlikely vitriol and resolve following loss and devastation. We’re thrilled to share this new release with you during dark times and hope it provides a moment of stillness where something fresh can take root.” Taking that loose description into account, it is sure to generate plenty of discussion among audiences. Together with the song’s musical content, in each of its iterations, the two elements collectively make for even more engagement for audiences.
While the musical and lyrical content featured in the Pathless Land EP do quite a bit to make the record an interesting presentation, they are just a portion of what creates that appeal. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation, bringing everything together. As has already been noted, the EP (which again is in this critic’s view more single than EP – but that’s beside the point at this rate) features three very distinct takes on the song in question. Each rendition presents its own unique take, too. That means that a lot of attention had to be taken to make sure each take had the utmost impact. Thankfully, those painstaking efforts paid off. The brooding, subtle sounds of the song’s “Lit Beacon” mix creates such a deep emotion that will resonate with listeners long after the song’s end. The balance in the subtle crescendos and decrescendos makes this take so rich. The more driving, electronic “Sovereign Mix” with its sharp contrasts makes for its own powerful impact. It would have been so easy to let the song get away with itself in the heavier moments in this mix, but thankfully that did not happen. That heaviness, against the take’s more subtle side makes for even more power here. The handling of the even more subtle approach to the song’s album take required its own attention to detail in regards to its production. The layering of the chanting vocals causes that element to echo in listeners’ minds. Meanwhile, the subtlety in the chants against the main lyrical line makes for even more of an interesting effect. Much the same can be said in how that was all balanced with the keyboard line here. All things considered here, the production works just as well in this case as in the song’s other mixes. The end result is a record here from Post Death Soundtrack that industrial and goth audiences will appreciate just as much as works from the duo’s more well-known counterparts. It is a record that they will agree, also, is a positive first preview of the duo’s forthcoming album.
Post Death Soundtrack’s new Pathless Land EP is a good way for the duo to give audiences their first preview of the pair’s forthcoming album It Will Come Out of Nowhere. That is proven in part, as noted here, through all three of the arrangements of the EP’s title track. Regardless of which rendition listeners choose, the result is a song whose arrangement is fully engaging and entertaining. The unique lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical arrangements adds its own interest for listeners and is sure to create its own share of discussion and engagement. The production of each of the song’s renditions brings everything full circle as it ensures every element of each take is balanced with the utmost precision. That detailed attention to each arrangement’s instrumentation paid off, too. It joins with the record’s content to make the EP sound appealing just as much as the content makes it appealing in that arena. Each item noted is clearly important in its own way to the whole of the EP. All things considered, they make Pathless Land a presentation that charts a clear, solid path for Post Death Soundtrack’s coming album. Pathless Land is available now. More information on the EP is available along with all of the duo’s latest news and more at: