Egypt, Cracks and Lines: Expanding the Known

Posted in Reviews on October 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

egypt cracks and lines

When North Dakotan trio Egypt issued their second full-length in 2015, already there were stirrings of a companion-piece tracked at the same time that was coming soon. Not that they didn’t say plenty with Endless Flight (review here) itself, which was a delight in tone and groove and its general approach to songcraft — I said at the time that it was immediately recognizable as Egypt‘s own, and I very much stand by that. That there would be more material to come drawn from those recording sessions was an exciting prospect. The trio of bassist/vocalist Aaron Esterby, guitarist/recording engineer Neal Stein and drummer/cover artist Chad Heille had never sounded so fluid, and one knew from the wait between Egypt‘s original demo, released in 2009 via MeteorCity as a self-titled EP (review here) and 2013’s Become the Sun (review here), that Egypt records don’t come along every day, so hey, the more the merrier.

As it turns out, Cracks and Lines is less of a companion-piece or Endless Flight than one might expect — at least in the sense of being more of the same. Instead, with Stein at the helm recording, mixing and mastering, the three-piece course through five tracks and 38 minutes that greatly expand the scope of who Egypt are and what they do as a band, finding a stylistic foothold in a blend of their trademark bluesy sludge on songs like “Final Heist” and the 11-minute rolling title-cut, while elsewhere delving into melancholy psychedelia on “Dirge” or tripping out in a spacious, Hammond-infused jam on 13-minute closer “What Lights this Ocean.” Oh, and for good measure? There’s a KISS cover. They do “Watchin’ You” from 1974’s Hotter than Hell and have no trouble making it their own.

All of this, and especially the languid finish of “What Lights this Ocean” has the effect of broadening Egypt‘s overall reach. Yeah, in their more straightforward nodding moments, on “Watchin’ You” or the apex of “Cracks and Lines,” they still nod toward the likes of Weedeater with Esterby‘s dry-throated shouts and one-time splitmates Wo Fat — with whom they issued Cyclopean Riffs (review here) in 2013 — but that expectation in no way accounts for putting the melodic, calm and wistful “Dirge” as the three-minute centerpiece of the offering, with its subtle swirl of backward guitar and clean-sung verses. Nor does it jibe with “What Lights this Ocean” on the whole, which, while it draws from elements Egpyt have put to use in the past, represents a marked shift in focus toward psych-blues that stands as a realignment from anything they’ve done before. Even “Final Heist,” which at just under seven minutes long one might argue is intended as a familiar lead-in for listeners before the band gets to their more ranging fare, plays to a more patient feel in its rollout, saving a weighted boogie for its final third as the payoff for the slow nod preceding.


Again, not necessarily unheard of from Egypt, but done in a new way. It’s interesting to think of these songs as having been put to tape at the same time as Endless Flight, if indeed that’s how it worked out, because the band clearly then took the glut of material and sculpted two different outings from it — one that affirmed the direction of their debut and built on the accomplishments there, and this one, which pushes into newer territory altogether. Without knowing the circumstances of the recording, it would be almost too easy to read progression into this material — the sense of Egypt continuing to move forward from Endless Flight, when the reality is that what they accomplish with Cracks and Lines isn’t growing beyond its predecessor, it’s completing the picture of how much they’ve grown since the debut. The mind boggles.

The most important bottom line, of course, is that it works. From “Final Heist” through the early bounce of “Cracks and Lines,” into the melodic drift of “Dirge,” the stage-ready swing of “Watchin’ You” and the final, liquefied wanderings of “What Lights this Ocean” — on which Andrew Steinberg sits in for the aforementioned Hammond contribution, much bolstering the ending of the full-length as a whole — Cracks and Lines succeeds in delivering the impression of Egypt as a richer band in their presentation than one knew they could be before, while maintaining a loose, natural feel throughout. As it was finally put together to coincide with a summer 2017 European tour, Cracks and Lines might be thought of along similar lines to Geezer‘s Psychoriffadelia (review here), with which the New York heavy psych-blues rockers similarly jammed their way into more expansive terrain, but however one might want to frame them, these five tracks showcase a side of Egypt not previously heard in this way.

One can’t help but wonder if on their next outing, the Fargoans might try to bring these stylistic maneuvers together with the more forward sludge rock that typified Endless Flight, essentially combining the vibes of the two albums as a logical next step forward for their sound. If anything, Cracks and Lines makes it harder — though also more fun — to speculate what might be next for Egypt, but either way, the underlying message here is that while one might have come out of Endless Flight feeling like the total scope of the band had shown itself and that the task before them was then to set about refining that scope on a third album through songwriting and general level of performance, production, etc. — that, in other words, their course was set — they’ve instead shifted their narrative with a sonic left turn and given themselves a broader palette to draw from as they move toward what might be a more satisfying long-term development. So while Cracks and Lines complicates guessing who Egypt want to be as a band, it excites in demonstrating just how unsettled that issue still is and that there remains plenty of exploring to do.

Egypt, Cracks and Lines (2017)

Egypt on Thee Facebooks

Egypt on Bandcamp

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Egypt Announce Cracks and Lines Preorders Available; July Euro Tour Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Egypt head back to Europe in July for a tour that rounds out with slots at Stoned from the Underground in Germany and Red Smoke in Poland, and by the time they go, the Fargo, North Dakota, three-piece will have issued their new album, Cracks and Lines. You might recall the band posted the 11-minute title-track of the record back in March — though one didn’t know at the time it shared its name with the record; very sneaky — to give a substantial tease to the follow-up to 2015’s Endless Flight (review here) and reassure their broadening listenership that their bluesy sludge rock remains well intact moving into their next release.

Good to know and good to hear. I’d already been looking forward to the rest of the album, and if you’re in a similar mindset, they’ve got preorders up now through their Bandcamp and have posted the album art and tracklist. Though “Cracks and Lines” itself was 11 minutes long, I’m thinking the rest of the offering might be pretty short since they refer to it as an “EP/LP.” Either way, new Egypt and I’ll take it.

They were also recently confirmed for Glory or Death Records‘ upcoming Thin Lizzy tribute (info here), so plenty going on. Here’s info from their social medias:

egypt cracks and lines

Egypt – Cracks and Lines

The digital and CD preorders of our new EP/LP/album “Cracks and Lines” are now live on bandcamp. The release date is set for 6/20 for the digital/CD. Physical CDs should be in our hands on or before the release date. If a delay occurs we will let everyone know. Vinyl will be coming, but a bit down the road. Check it out. Cheers.

1. Final Heist
2. Cracks and Lines
3. Dirge
4. Watchin’ You
5. What Lights This Ocean

Here are our 2017 European tour dates. We’re super stoked to be heading back over to Europe this Summer. Check it. Presented by Total Volume & Eclipse Productions!

1-jul Rare Guitar – Münster DE
2-jul Le Garage – Liege BE
3-jul Le Glazart – Paris FR
4-jul Le Ferraileur – Nantes FR
5-jul OFF
6-jul Coq D´Or – Olten CH
7-jul Dome of Rock Festival – Salzburg AT
8-jul KVLT – Budapest HU
9-jul EXIT festival – Novi Sad RS
10-jul Club Daos – Timisoara RO
11-jul Elektropionir – Belgrade RS
12-jul Vintage Industrial Bar – Zagreb HR
13-jul Das Bach – Vienna AT
14-jul Club 007 – Prague CZ
15-jul Stoned From the Underground Fest – Erfurt DE
16-jul Red Smoke Festival – Pleszew PL

Aaron Esterby – Bass/Vocals
Chad Heille – Drums
Neal Stein – Guitar

Egypt, Cracks and Lines (2017)

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