Fan poll: Top 5 EPs in heavy-music history | Revolver

Fan poll: Top 5 EPs in heavy-music history

Sometimes shorter is better
tool gettyimages-1166048457.jpg, Lindsay Brice/Getty Images
TOOL, 1991
photograph by Lindsay Brice/Getty Images

Throughout music history, EPs are generally regarded as lesser than albums. And in many cases, that's true. Outside of subgenres like hardcore where the seven-inch format reigns supreme, most artists treat EPs as containers for B-sides or low-stakes platforms to experiment with new sounds before committing on a full-length album.

But not always. Sometimes, the music that lands on an EP is utterly phenomenal. Sometimes, it's even a band's career-best work.

We asked our readers to pick the single greatest EP in all of music history, and naturally, the top five vote-getters landed on the heavy side. From industrial-metal masochism to tear-jerking grunge balladry, these are Revolver readers' picks for the best EPs ever.

5. The Devil Wears Prada - Zombie EP

Zombie fanaticism enjoyed a serious revival in the early 2010s thanks to shows like The Walking Dead and movies like Zombieland, and The Devil Wears Prada met the moment with their 2010 metalcore romp, Zombie EP. The five-track release is a concept record about a zombie apocalypse, filled with roaring chainsaws, cinematic spoken-word parts and tons of flesh-eating breakdowns.

Having emerged from the era of crab dances and chintzy techno beats, TDWP delivered an elevated artistic statement that proved metalcore could be heavy, thematic and fun as hell.

4. Metallica - $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited

Metallica were in a tough spot in 1987, still reeling from the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton, but anxious to launch a new chapter with his replacement, Flotsam and Jetsam four-stringer Jason Newsted.

Shrewdly, the thrash greats followed that dark chapter with a sense of levity and released $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited, a low-stakes bundle of cover songs honoring some of their formative influences: Misfits, Killing Joke, Diamond Head and more. Lucky for fans, the covers all sound like good ol' Metallica, and the EP still kicks ass over three decades later.

3. TOOL - Opiate

Some bands need an EP or two (or even an album or two) to find their footing, but TOOL were in lockstep from the very beginning. The soon-to-be alt-metal stars came roaring out the gate with Opiate, the gnashing, eerie and brilliant 1992 EP that gave the world a glimpse of their primal power.

The opening one-two punch of "Sweat" into "Hush" still stands among the most electrifying passages in their whole catalog, and even though the band had a lot more room to grow on the technical and conceptual fronts, Opiate is still a hell of a first go.

2. Nine Inch Nails - Broken

There's something about the brevity of Broken that makes it more intense than it would be as an album. All of the unfiltered rage and hopped-up sexuality is packed into a concise, all-killer tracklist, making this a visceral listen from start to finish.

The standout is, of course, "Wish," but the bludgeoning chug of "Last" and the incendiary thump of "Happiness in Slavery" are also some of Trent Reznor's finest displays of industrial-metal prowess.

1. Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies

Jar of Flies is literally a record-setting release, being the first EP to ever debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. However, it's just as much a creative triumph as it was a commercial one.

The semi-acoustic follow-up to 1992's Sap EP captured the Layne Staley era of AIC at their hilt. "Rotten Apple" could be the band's most beautiful song — if "Nutshell" wasn't even prettier, and also a helluva lot more poignant.

Altogether, the subtle dynamics, tasteful guitar work and Staley's knockout vocal performances — showcasing a softer, though equally expressive side of his mighty register — add up to AIC's most enduring release that isn't titled Dirt. Our readers think it's the greatest EP ever. We stand by that.