The entire "hardcore that experiments with other genres" imprint is about as progressive as exploring "world music" with a stack of Dispatch and O.A.R. records. The core of what makes a hardcore band (or, really, any style of band) great is the pied piper effect — that ability to draw in a listener and lead them down a path with turns that are not only unexpected, but welcome. It's a tough feat, one that everyone attempts and pretty much no one can pull off.

France's COWARDS have a name that must be an ironic call to arms, seeing as how "the Bravery" was already taken. On their latest EP, Still, the Parisian band practices brutal hardcore straight from the Bremen playbook (the vocals are particularly ACME). Sludge, black metal and ambient elements cast a fog of hate over the entire release, raising the band from the onslaught of similarly themed artists into the tier with Amenra, Martyrdod and even the mighty Cursed. It's territory that has been explored in the past, but rarely this well. Stream it in full below.

COWARDS' EP, Still, hits on December 2. EU folks can order via Throatruiner; hit up Deathwish, Inc., in the U.S.