Thursday, 24 January 2013
Egypt - Become the Sun (album review)
The return hasn't been without some surprises however, not the least of which is the sound of the album. The Grahn lineup featured much more of a doomy, bass-led approach, with the guitar not being so up front in the mix nor in the performance. The current Stein incarnation has a much fuller, hard rock sound at its heart, coming across more like Pentagram or even Motörhead than Saint Vitus.
In an odd way, it's almost as though heavy metal is rediscovering itself. More and more bands are getting away from strict 'Doom' as a point of focus and delving into the rawer, heavy guitar-led approach of the pre-thrash late 70s, much like how Black Sabbath themselves eventually evolved between 'Black Sabbath' and 'Never Say Die' and took a generation on its back to evolve with them. One must say that Egypt is at the forefront of this movement.
From the opening licks of "Matterhorn" Egypt serve up a steaming dish of southern groove that would not sound out of place on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. The bass tone is more in tune with the early 80s / late 70s with the gain turned way up and there's more dynamism in the drum work. Not fast and thrashy but more uptempo, more BPMs, more filling in empty spaces with fills and a lot more ride as a general thing. Even the vocals are more aggressive, smoke-blown and resonant. That all said, it's not as though Egypt has dropped the doom from their repertoire altogether. "Orb of the Wizardking", "Greenland" and "The Village is Silent" are all fine examples of the genre. But as an overall impression after listening to the album, it seems as though there's more "Stalker"s than "Wizardkings" here and it may be that that's just the point. By the time the album finishes, it's cuts like "Stalker", "Hillside" and "Matterhorn" that make the biggest impact, these are the songs that provide the stronger whispers ringing in the ears.
Their cover of Deep Purple's "Black Night" is spot on as well, pretty much note perfect. Covers, let alone faithful ones aren't usually my bag of tea, but this one fits in on this album perfectly. Just the right mood and tone and in just the right sequence. Eight songs in and the listener's sweating and maybe getting a bit tired. That's when the band jump in with that slow drum roll and killer riff and in comes that second wind. Now the listener is primed and ready for the big finish.
Egypt's return after five years and change is a triumphant one, probably not the return fans were expecting but triumphant nonetheless. Where one might have expected a low end dominated doom-a-thon, one finds the guitar leading the way into some unexpected places. In the end, Egypt have delivered a fine hard rock record that is a clear highlight of the first month of the year and just scraping the upper edge of an hour in length, the band gives the audience their money's worth.
As of right now 'Become The Sun' is available through most mp3 vendors (I got mine from cdbaby on new year's) but it will soon be available on CD sometime in February. I know I'll be at the front of the queue with cash and hand when that day comes. The band is also working on putting together a vinyl release. Here's the link to Egypt's big cartel store for future orders when it is made available.
Highlights include: "Matterhorn" and "Hillside"
1. Matterhorn (4:35)
2. The Village Is Silent (5:42)
3. Orb of the Wizardking (8:59)
4. Stalker (3:56)
5. Hillside (5:39)
6. Greenland (3:40)
7. World Eater (7:33)
8. Snakecharmer (3:50)
9. Black Night (3:52)
10. Elk River Fire (11:00)
Total Run Time: 58:42
From: Fargo, North Dakota
Genre: Hard Rock, Doom, Stoner, Psychedelic
Reminds me of: Arkham Witch, Moonless, Motörhead, Pentagram
Release Date: December 28, 2012; CD in February 2013
Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Dust off the ol' air guitar, leathers and denims and get some sweat stains going.
GET IT HERE