Wednesday, July 16, 2014

…soaring high for all time: EGYPT – ‘Egypt’ EP

Egypt’s stellar self-titled demo-turned-EP has had a long and varied history since its inception and subsequent limited release in 2008. With the latest incarnation of the EP impressively packaged and released courtesy of Doomentia Records there is no better time to revisit what can only be hailed as a near perfect debut. With only four tracks and a runtime at just over the thirty minute mark ‘Egypt’ is the end result of band that, whether they felt it at the time or not, matched a focused, singular vision with creativity and a fine-tuned compositional craftsmanship. Throughout the four tracks the trio skillfully balances their collective stylistic influences resulting in a seamless marriage of heavy blues, stoner, doom, and hard rock.

“Valley of the Kings” opens the EP and still, to this day, remains one of the finest tracks that the band has penned. Lackadaisical lead guitar and cymbal washes get things moving before Aaron Esterby’s pulsating basslines uncoil and intertwine in serpentine fashion amongst the drums and bluesy guitar licks and heavy riffs. Similar to other tracks of the EP “Valley of the Kings” incrementally builds in intensity and effortlessly covers wide expanses of stylistic ground eventually burning out as an up-tempo rocker—seven-and-a-half minutes of pure bliss. The second track, “Queen of All Time (Red Giant)”, begins inconspicuously enough with a prolonged, mesmerizing passage of bass and drums accented with a rising tide of feedback. Esterby’s vocals, initially soulful, match the cascading riffs with a commanding presence. The latter half of the track is reminiscent of much of the material found on Sleep’s ‘Holy Mountain’ including Esterby’s vocal cadence, though his delivery is more powerful than anything Cisneros has ever laid to tape.

The latter half of the EP finds Egypt shifting gears with “Dirty Witch”, a driving, sun-scorched hard rocker that, based on the first half of the tune, wouldn’t sound out of place on R.L. Burnside’s ‘Mr. Wizard’. Like every track of the EP “Dirty Witch” is subject to stylistic changes and things briefly get spaced-out and doomy before settling into a blues-based crawl. Beautifully closing out the EP is “Touch Ground”, a track that initially alternates serene, blissed-out passages with weightier riffs that tumble into a hefty groove accented with Sabbath-inspired diversions. The perfect way to bring things to an end.

Egypt’s self-titled debut is a high water mark for heavy blues inspired stoner metal. Not only are the stylistic changes effortless, but the band keeps things interesting by including elements of doom and psychedelia played out at a variety of tempos. There is a reason that the EP has been kept in print in one form or another. While the band currently is out of stock ‘Egypt’—available in four different colorways—can be ordered directly from Doomentia Records.

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