In modern times, the EP (extended play) format is entertained less and less with the rise of home studios and the ease of recording just about anywhere. Bands, even at a local level, are able to make their entrance with fully fleshed out albums, rather than pooling together money to book graveyard studio time to cut their best songs into a shorter format to help gain the attention of record labels, ultimately netting a deal because of it.

When looking at the best EPs the rock and metal world have offered throughout the decades, the further we go back into the past, the more frequently we find bands whose first official release came by way of an EP. Often times, these releases are raw indicators of a band’s direct influence and an interesting look at how they shaped their sound before committing to a full length record. It was a way to flesh out ideas and get experience in the studio, typically a first step on the road to success.

Other times, an EP was released between albums, either comprised of leftover tracks from the previous recording session or an outlet to veer into a different musical direction, even if just for a one-off purpose. The experimental nature of the release can allow a band to indulge in other creative facets of their sound without alienating their fanbase by making the risky move of changing their sound entirely on a highly-anticipated record.

EPs seem to endure the brunt of neglect when it comes to any band’s discography, but here we’ve narrowed down the best of them. Click through the gallery above to see our picks for the Top 25 Hard Rock + Metal EPs.

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