Rare are the times in my life where the phrase, ?Fuck yeah, Dire Straits!? has crossed my lips. In fact, I can only think of one instance, and that was the first time I heard the ?ber-fuzz guitar tone on ?Dirty Witch,? the third of four songs on Fargo, North Dakota, trio Egypt?s self-titled EP. Originally released on vinyl in 2007 via Lyderhorn Records (since relocated to Norway), Egypt finds its first CD issue courtesy of MeteorCity?s ongoing reconnaissance program to unearth quality, unheard Sleep-style stoner metal.
Sure enough, Sleep is a chief reference here, as it is for much of MeteorCity?s latter day output, but Egypt work in an even more classic rock vein, bassist/vocalist Aaron Esterby having a far-off-the-mic feel to his approach that sounds like it would go well over an enthusiastic crowd at a sweltering summer festival. Likewise, Ryan Grahn?s guitar is warm and easy on the ear in a classic style, sounding particularly sweet on closer ?Touch Ground,? the first two and a half minutes of which unfold calmly and casually so that when the massive riff around which the song winds up being based comes in nearly 30 seconds later, it?s all the more grandiose. Kudos to drummer Chad Heille for morphing his style to suit the situation at hand, be it the jazzy snare work that starts the song or the rampaging crash cymbal that finishes it.
?Valley of the Kings,? ?Queen of all Time (Red Giant),? ?Dirty Witch? and ?Touch Ground,? are all over seven minutes, with the second being the longest at 9:24. As an opener, ?Valley of the Kings? shows Esterby isn?t afraid to work a little Neil Young (though not as annoyingly pitched) into his vocals or a little wah into his bass. Or a lot of it. The song has some easy grooving dynamics and isn?t especially hard to follow, but when it builds and riffs out, it?s nonetheless effective for its relative predictability. The lack of pretense in the songwriting abounds and infuses Sabbathian moments like the one after the five-minute mark in ?Valley of the Kings? with a double-pronged charm.
Most of the extra length in ?Queen of all Time (Red Giant)? might be due to its longer intro ? we?re four minutes into the song before the requisite heavy riff kicks in ? but those quiet interludes and intros are some of Egypt?s strongest moments as a band, so it?s not boring to sit through and neither should the listener be impatient for the song to ?start.? If you?re anxious when listening to this EP, put it down and come back another day. It?s a calm, collected mindset called for to fully appreciate it, and in that the band so fully emits that musically, Egypt is more than circumstantially successful.
Fuzz and riff devilry easily worth the revisit MeteorCity is giving it. Recommended.Coen Brothers References, Egypt, Fargo, MeteorCity, North Dakota