Operators Post “Rolling Hitch” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

operators photo philip schulte

Berlin-based five-piece Operators released their third album, Revelers (review here), earlier this year and thereby reignited the dynamic rock and roll throwdown of 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), with their most charged and dynamic outing yet. The band, who take elements from classic heavy but never lose themselves full-on into vintage-ism and never have, are somewhat underrated at this point as songwriters, as organ-soaked cuts like “Pusher” and “Walkin’ on Air” demonstrate, but as they demonstrate in their new video for the 10-minute LP finale “Rolling Hitch,” that’s done just about nothing to slow their party down. And especially in this video, which is their second from the record behind a clip for “Messina,” that party comes to life.

And hey, if you’re going to throw a throwdown, where better to do so than on the water? Operators get some friends together, hit the dock and let the good times and grooves alike roll as they will. The song features a guest appearance from Wight guitarist/vocalist René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed Revelers, and though he doesn’t seem to be in the clip, the band obviously had a blast in putting it together. Seriously, is there anything better than watching a band live on a boat? Immediate awesomeness. Of the one or two times I’ve been fortunate enough to do such a thing, it’s never failed to thrill, and hey, if Operators wants to open a cruise line, they’ve got a pretty good commercial for why you should show up right here. I’d hit up that ship.

Check out “Rolling Hitch” below, followed by some more info from the band, and please enjoy:

Operators, “Rolling Hitch” official video

We are proud to present our second music video for our new album ‘Revelers’!

An ongoing journey. Settling down and moving ahead again. Tied knots and sharpened blades. ‘Rolling Hitch’ deals with making peace with yourself, with the neverending quest to find serenity.

Filmed by our dear friend Fabian Willi Simon on a magnificent boatride on the ‘Anarche’, Aug 19th 2017. Thanks to everybody who helped to make this happen.

Res ipsa loquitur. Enjoy with an open mind.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Operators on YouTube

Operators on Bandcamp

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

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Jupiter Zeus Post “Eyes on the Prize” Video; New EP out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Jupiter Zeus Rachael Barrett

If by calling their new EP Eyes on the Prize, Australian heavy progressive metallers Jupiter Zeus meant to say they’re focused in their intentions, then yeah, I’d certainly say the release lives up to it. Peppered with a threat of deeper growling, the foundation of the songcraft seems to be in charged guitar riffing and clear, crisply-presented vocal melodicism. The tracks, of which there are six and which range between three and four minutes apiece, are sharply edged and feel tightly knit, allowing for a no-nonsense feel to permeate even as “Read it and Weep” makes use of sampled crowd noise and closer “Broken Plates” offers a somewhat calmer, more atmospheric take.

The band made their debut in 2014 via Magnetic Eye with the full-length On Earth (discussed here), and they have a new video posted now for the title-track from Eyes on the Prize that you can check out here, along with the EP in its entirety.

From the PR wire:

jupiter zeus eyes on the prize

JUPITER ZEUS’ ‘Eyes on the Prize’ EP Out Now and Streaming / Official Video Released

Perth’s (Australia) JUPITER ZEUS have returned to the world stage in all their riff-immersed, haunting metallic glory with new EP Eyes on the Prize. The official video for the title track is available at https://youtu.be/IHzYJaZeSak.

Arriving three years since the release of 2014 full-length On Earth, the new EP captures in succinct, yet sonically enveloping, form what their countrymen have known since the beginning: JUPITER ZEUS is the real Heavy Rock deal. Get in and get hooked; simple as that.

Stream/Purchase: https://jupiterzeus.bandcamp.com/album/eyes-on-the-prize

Tucked away in Perth, Western Australia, JUPITER ZEUS are the very definition of a band who seem to have come from nowhere… but their arrival – laden with walls of guitar, hypnotic rhythms and almost psychedelic vocals – is far from quiet.

Debuting with the stunning Green Mosquito EP, it’s quite apparent that JUPITER ZEUS aren’t exactly first timers. Their previous incarnation, Nebula, boasted a similarly cosmic slant to the heavier side of rock, and the band were pioneering in breaking ground in South East Asia, earning solid fan-bases in Indonesia and Malaysia. With a similarly global scope, but the advantage of experience at their disposal, JUPITER ZEUS are looking past the horizon of the Indian Ocean to a big world of endless possibilities.

At its heart, the band’s music is about songs… epic, soaring and teaming with hooks. The decorations they put on these songs – tastes of the last 30 years of rock music – identify and define the band on a more specific, potent level. Atoms of worlds colliding, exploding into new compounds and creating new life. A self-evolving universe of sound. From the stage or simply blasting in your car; the sound of JUPITER ZEUS is as monolithic and grand as their namesakes.

Track List:
1. Eyes on the Prize
2. Saviour with Destruction
3. Read it and Weep
4. Midnight Renegade
5. Arise
6. Broken Plates

Line-up:

Aaron Smith – Drums
Simon Staltari – Guitar/Vocals
Jeremy Graham – Bass
Michael Lawson – Guitar

http://www.jupiterzeus.com/
https://jupiterzeus.bandcamp.com/
www.facebook.com/jupiterzeusrock
https://twitter.com/jupiterzeus

Jupiter Zeus, “Eyes on the Prize” official video

Jupiter Zeus, Eyes on the Prize (2017)

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Tuber, Out of the Blue: Beyond the Desert

Posted in Reviews on October 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tuber out of the blue

As part of a countrywide surge in heavy productivity in Greece taking place over, say, the last five years, instrumentalist four-piece Tuber issued their debut full-length, Desert Overcrowded, late in 2013 as the follow-up to their 2012 self-titled EP (discussed here), and with the longer release, seemed to be making a statement of individualized intent, positioning themselves outside the genre of heavy rock while at the same time being very much of the style and its influence. It was a lot to say for a band without lyrics, but as the Serres-based outfit, comprised of Nickos Gerostathos, Paris Fragkos, Yannis Gerostathos and Yannis Artzoglou, offer their second long-player, Out of the Blue, through NEDA Records, they would seem all the more to manifest the ethic that drove its predecessor while also taking a significant step forward in sound.

There is still a root within heavy rock, to be sure, but to listen to a track like “Cat Class,” which its darker guitar chug and running keyboard line, Tuber appear to have shifted into a much more progressive take on the style. Psychedelic elements remain and can be heard elsewhere in the guitar of the penultimate “Moon Rabbit,” but Out of the Blue even takes these more to a place of post-Russian Circles heavy post-rock in terms of their balance between airiness of tonal drift and underlying crunch, and thereby only provides a richer feel for the prog edge overall. It’s not an easy transition to make, and it’s not every band who could make it and still come across as fluidly as Tuber do in these six songs, but they successfully manipulate established styles to their own ends throughout, and so are able to provide an emotional crux as well as aesthetic intrigue to a piece the eight-minute “Norman.”

Crucial factors throughout Out of the Blue are tension and the keyboards. Tuber issued the album at the end of May very much in the manner of its title — it wasn’t on Bandcamp and then it was; blamo — and I’ll admit that part of my months-long delay in giving it a proper review has been down to processing their methods. I won’t claim to have a total grasp on what they’re doing — I’d just about never claim that about anyone — but there’s no question that from the opening title-track onward, the keyboards play a huge role in setting the mood and establishing the range with which the band is working overall. Synthesized beats are the first thing one hears as “Out of the Blue” begins, and though by the first minute drums and guitar have joined in and the song is soon to take off on a bit of deceptively angular riffing, it’s still the keys that have charted the course ahead.

tuber

The shortest inclusion, “Russian” (5:40), follows and is more guitar led, but retains a complex structure of its own. It doesn’t move as patiently into a drifting midsection (again, filled out by keyboards, bass and guitar in balance) like the opener before it, or hit into the same kind of payoff wash, but with a focus more on the heads-down business of riffing, Tuber offer a charge late in the song born of progressive metal à la Tool or the aforementioned Russian Circles leading into the drum start of “Cat Class” and thereby emphasizing the dynamic manner in which they’re able to play to one side or another within their sound even as they expand the parameters of where that sound can go. After “Russian,” the underlying chug of “Cat Class” seems to have a different context as opposed to being taken on its own — one rarely expects to have their mind drawn to mid-period Rammstein by a heavy rock record — but here the key element of tension emerges in the note-to-note bounce and the upbeat drumming, and once more the keyboards are essential to conveying that vibe as they complement the guitar, flesh out the arrangement, and starting at about three minutes in, make their own statement of melodicism rightly featured at the fore of the mix before the next push of thicker riffing takes hold.

“Cat Class” is a standout for bringing to mind a new wave-meets-heavy prog sensibility that’s almost definitively Tuber‘s own, but it’s still just a fraction of what they offer on Out of the Blue as “Norman” answers back with an oddly-timed start of drums and keys, letting the guitar ease its way in more gradual fashion on the album’s most subtle linear build taking place over first two-plus minutes. It’s not until about 2:45 that “Norman” takes flight, and by then the listener is duly hypnotized; an old trick as far as instrumentalist heavy is concerned, but a level of engagement on which Tuber haven’t relied before and so feeling fresh within the sphere of these cuts, and they recede no less smoothly only to mount an even more tense apex the second time around before finally crashing out and letting “Moon Rabbit” come in as an answer to “Russian” back on side A that once again puts the focus more on guitar than keys — drums and bass, as ever, the foundation on which all of this interaction is taking place, it’s worth emphasizing — but nonetheless retains a heavy post-rocking texture and patience, for which the second track ultimately had little time.

This varied and gracefully executed depth has to find resolution somewhere, and one looks immediately to closer “Luckily Dead” to provide that very thing. In following “Moon Rabbit,” which efficiently capped with what feels by the end of the song like its chorus in the sense of an instrumental hook, the finale starts with a darker, lower keyboard line and a slower drum beat, the guitar entering like a tinted mirror of “Norman” but marked out by the immediate shift in mood. “Luckily Dead” indeed sets itself to the task of paying off the tension mounted all across the record before it — whether it was written specifically for that purpose or just well placed, I couldn’t say — but the flow of the seven-plus-minute piece casts itself as yet another significant factor in what makes Out of the Blue so successful on the whole, since while Tuber clearly aren’t shooting for the same kind of raw, live feel in their recording style as many psychedelic bands, instead leaning more toward a crisp, prog-style production with Fragkos at the helm as engineer/mixer, they still retain and demonstrate a level of chemistry among themselves as players that simply can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

It’s what allows them to foster such a multifaceted take while holding firm to their underlying sonic persona, and it’s what has allowed them to develop that sonic persona in the first place. One can only hope as they continue to move forward — which it’s safe to bet that barring disaster they will; there’s little here that shows any interest in stagnation on any level — they are able to maintain that aspect as well as to press ahead with their approach, because with Out of the Blue it has resulted in a work as distinct as it is distinguished. If Tuber found the desert too crowded for their liking, they’ve definitely moved into a space more completely to themselves.

Tuber, Out of the Blue (2017)

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Tuber on Twitter

Tuber on Bandcamp

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Zhora Post New Track; Ethos, Pathos, Logos out This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

zhora

Irish post-sludgers Zhora — also presented as zhOra, which I’m not doing, because I’m an adult and capitalizing the first letter of a proper noun is a choice I’ve made and even if it’s wrong in this instance, I’m sticking by it — are gearing up for a weekender tour starting this Friday which will take them to Siege of Limerick, where they’ll share the stage with the likes of Orange Goblin as well as Emerald Isle countrymen like Zlatanera, Kurokuma, Elder Druid, Demeter and many others. Seems as fitting an occasion as any to mark the release of their new album, the genre-spanning self-release Ethos, Pathos, Logos, from which the band has just posted the track “Infernal Liturgy” as a name-your-price download, and which is about as all-over-the-place in its sub-three-minute run as you could ask.

Cool by me. They might not be much for capitalization, but if it’s between that and weirding out, even I have to admit the weird-out is the way to go. Particularly when it’s still so heavy.

Info and audio follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

zhora ethos pathos logos

Irish Sludge Metallers ZHORA Release Free Track Download Ahead of Headline Tour

Album Ethos, Pathos, Logos Released 27 October

Irish sludge powerhouse zhOra have released the latest single ‘Infernal Liturgy’ for free download ahead of their headline tour which starts October 20th. The track is taken from forthcoming sophomore album Ethos, Pathos, Logos which is released on 27 October.

Vocalist Colin Bolger comments: “Infernal Liturgy takes place right in the middle of the story. It deals with our main character “Riverchrist” and how he convinces a group of desperate tribespeople to resort to cannibalism and devour each other. We like to think of it as our demented death metal ballad. It’s slimy yet angular and features our drummer Tom spitting a glorious vocal rhythm with some genuine venom. We took director Zoe Kavanagh, her camera crew and a group of our oldest friends to the forest for a few days in September and shot a mad new video which will be debuting soon. We used fake limbs, fire and skulls, lots of mushrooms, not enough cans and 27 litres of fake blood. Things got weird and sticky just just the way we like it and the result is a real horror show.”

Over the span of six years zhOra have quickly become one of the most recognisable names in the burgeoning Irish metal scene. In this time the band has released one EP Feet Nailed to the Ground (2011) and their debut LP Almaz (2013), both releases garnering huge praise within the scene. Now in 2017, the band is set to undertake the next stage in their journey, Ethos, Pathos, Logos.

In the only predictable aspect of the band’s sonic trajectory, Ethos, Pathos, Logos finds the band once again putting themselves under their own microscope and refining their approach. With a lush cover designed by acclaimed Visionary Artist Jake Kobrin, the record is zhOra’s first back-to-back concept album, an hour long journey through past lives and cannibalism.

Pre-orders for Ethos, Pathos, Logos are available now via Big Cartel, Bandcamp, iTunes and all other digital outlets.

Catch zhOra throughout October:
October 27 – Central Arts, Waterford
October 28 – Fozzys, Clonmel
October 29 – Siege of Limerick

https://www.facebook.com/zhOramusic/
https://twitter.com/zhoramusic
http://zhora1.bandcamp.com/
http://zhora1.bigcartel.com/products

Zhora, “Infernal Liturgy”

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I Klatus Post “Final Communion” Video; Nagual Sun out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

i klatus

Guitarist/vocalist Tom Denney of I Klatus has a visual style that’s no less warped than the bleak, all-brown-and-grey psychedelia conjured by his band. In his graphics work, one finds ritualistic vibes and elements cast sometimes into an oblivion of richly-hued colors or sometimes turned monstrous by forces unknown, and listening to the churn brought to bear in “Final Communion,” the closing track from I Klatus‘ fourth and latest full-length, Nagual Sun (review here), the impression is little different. There’s a firm sense of the sound being born as a rite of space-creation, the making of a world in which to dwell, and it’s a place that Denney, bassist John E. Bomher, Jr., and drummer Chris Wozniak craft unmistakably as their own.

Perhaps most of all, I Klatus‘ music is a space in which the band itself can get lost in transcendentalist fashion. To wit, the last interaction of chants in “Final Communion” seem to be as much about trying to grasp the ethereal at the very ending minute as much as creating some outward engagement of atmosphere. It’s the band reaching inward. Audience becomes almost a secondary or tertiary consideration to the process of the ritual itself. I don’t think they mind witnesses — if they did, why record at all? — but there’s something so personal about “Final Communion” that makes it the perfect summary of Nagual Sun‘s remarkably bizarre but deeply nuanced proceedings, righteously heavy in their tone and in the underlying animalism of their methods.

Though I won’t take anything away from the animation or how well the smoky colorations and symbols represent the song, the highlight of the “Final Communion” video is the track itself. The band posted it as the third visual representation of Nagual Sun behind clips for “Sorcerer’s Gaze” (posted here) and “Beneath the Waves,” the latter of which you can also see at the bottom of this post, where you’ll also find the full stream of the record from I Klatus‘ Bandcamp, just because I think it’s worth your time. Hopefully you agree.

Please enjoy:

I Klatus, “Final Communion” official video

Coinciding with the release of new album Nagual Sun, Chicago Doom/Sludge eclectics I KLATUS have released the official video for album cut “Final Communion.”

Nagual Sun is available on digital and analog (cassette) formats. Stream and/or purchase at: https://iklatus.bandcamp.com/album/nagual-sun

The overall sound of Nagual Sun maintains the gritty roots for which I KLATUS is known, while at the same time launches the group into new and more fully fleshed-out dimensions of weirdness. Tom Denney is the primary soothsayer behind I KLATUS. Denney trades growling vocals with bass player, John E. Bomher, Jr. (BURY THE MACHINES, YAKUZA), who doubles as the band’s producer with his extensive experience in the studio; his work on the album sets this release head and shoulders above their previous efforts in terms of production quality.

The drums are championed by Chris Wozniak (LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR, EARTHEN GRAVE, SERPENT CROWN) who metes out doom in guttural timing. Some noises and textures by former member, Robert Bauwens, are also tucked into the nooks and crannies of these tracks.

I Klatus is:
Tom Denney – guitar/vocals/art
John E. Bomher, Jr. – bass/vocals/production
Chris Wozniak – drums

I Klatus, Nagual Sun (2017)

I Klatus, “Beneath the Waves” official video

I Klatus on Bandcamp

I Klatus on Thee Facebooks

I Klatus on Twitter

I Klatus on Instagram

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Bushfire Post Video for “Die Trying”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bushfire

Apparently if you want to get into a headquarters building for EUMETSAT, it’s all about who you know. Having a killer van like the one from Dumb and Dumber probably helps too — one imagines that helps everything — and it would seem Darmstadt, Germany-based heavy rockers Bushfire have both working in their favor in their new video for “Die Trying.” The clip is the second to be unveiled from their forthcoming third full-length, When Darkness Comes, behind one for “Zombi” posted in August, and where that had kind of a creeper lyric video vibe going, the metaphor of zombies being put to use as a descriptor for our relationship to technology — think dead-eyed people staring at their phones, etc. — “Die Trying” plays up a little bit more of the fun side that Bushfire bring to their personality.

To wit, that Dumb and Dumber van. And if you’re not familiar — I certainly wasn’t — the EUMETSAT stands for “Europäische Organisation für meteorologische Satelliten” and is essentially a network of weather satellites used across the European Union to share meteorological data between member states. There are headquarters throughout the EU, and oneBushfire-When-Darkness-Comes is in Bushfire‘s native Darmstadt, so yeah, they clearly found some way to get in and have a good time in the process, so kudos all around. One assumes they didn’t knock any orbital apparatus out of alignment in the process, and the lighter-hearted spirit of the video does well to represent When Darkness Comes, which, while severe in its title, cover art and in the themes of cuts like the aforementioned “Zombi” and the later “Fallen from Grace,” does have some letup in brooding in this track as well as the fuzz-rolling march of closer “Liberation” amid the moodiness of songs like “Shelter,” “Another Man Down” and “Wild Eyes,” all of which seem to bring together elements from the sonic personae of bands like Borracho, Clutch and Down to follow Bushfire‘s 2013 outing, Heal Thy Self (review here), with their most cohesive sonic vision to-date.

You can check out the burl and the groove of “Die Trying” on the player below, followed by more info about When Darkness Comes, for which Bushfire have a hometown CD release show booked for Oct. 27. Last I heard the record was due in December, but I guess if you can get it while the getting’s good, then yeah, get it while the getting’s good. Maybe vinyl later? I don’t know anything anymore.

Enjoy the video:

Bushfire, “Die Trying” official video

BAND – BUSHFIRE
SONG – DIE TRYING
ALBUM – WHEN DARKNESS COMES (2017)

This video would not have been possible without the following persons and their contributions: EUMETSAT, Phil Harvey, Ry Evill, James Snook, Patrick Boyny, Beate Springer, and Jonas Roem — BUSHFIRE, THANKS YOU ALL!!!

This video was filmed and edited by Schnittsache.
https://www.facebook.com/schnittsache/

Bushfire on Thee Facebooks

Bushfire on Bandcamp

Bushfire website

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Great Electric Quest Stream New Split with Lords of Beacon House; Announce Midwestern Tour Dates

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

great electric quest

On Halloween, San Diego’s Great Electric Quest will release a new split via Glory or Death Records with L.A. compatriots Lords of Beacon House. It’s been in the works for a while — you might recall Lords of Beacon House had their track “Cadillac Daddy” premiered here back in May — but it’s actually coming out, and the very next day, Great Electric Quest will head out on a run they’ve dubbed the ‘Beer Vikings Tour,’ because well, you gotta call it something. As we get closer to the release date, it’s their turn to premiere a track, and you’ll find that below along with a stream of their righteous 2016 Chapter I full-length, which is due for a follow-up presumably sometime in the New Year.

Veterans of this year’s Psycho Las Vegas festival, it’s hard to decide which of Great Electric Quest‘s inclusions on the split is more classic metal in style: their cover of Iron Maiden‘s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” or the original “Ruling this World.” Pick one and run with it — turns out there isn’t a wrong answer — and either way you go, expect to be handed a vicious helping of grit to go with your riffage. As they showed all throughout Chapter I, their take on heavy rock is well informed by attitude and craftsmanship alike, but as right on and ready for tape-trading as cuts from that record like “Egypt” and “Cry of the Wolf” were, the new stuff has it beat. I don’t know if “Ruling this World” might show up on Chapter II when that surfaces, but it certainly bodes well for what’s invariably to come.

Tour dates and more info on the split follow, as well as the track premiere and exclusive download.

Enjoy:

great-electric-quest-tour-poster

Great Electric Quest – Split with Lords of Beacon House & “Beer Vikings Tour 2017”

Rock & Roll, Heavy Metal, Doom & Shredders GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST and Super Trippy, Kings of Cool, Groove Masters, LORDS OF BEACON HOUSE bring you a split to inhale…two WICKED LADIES jamming in the Caddy toking Spliffs and enjoying the tunes… sounds like a good time.

GEQ’s “Madam Elbib” the Gypsy Fortune Teller from their album CH.I and LOBH’s Black Majik Voodoo Woman from their to be released 2nd LP “Recreational Sorcery”, inspire this split brought to you by GLORY OR DEATH RECORDS and the ripping art work of AUSTIN BARRETT.

Pump the V’s, Puff a Spliff, and Cruise out to this 4 song split that’s just long enough to pick up another 12er from the Corner Liquor.

CHEERS! and Thank you to Midnite Collective and XYZ clothing for their support!

Album release date: 31 October 2017

Tracklisting:
1. Lords of Beacon House – Cadillac Daddy
2. Lords of Beacon House – Spliff Ripper
3. Great Electric Quest – Murders in the Rue Morgue (Iron Maiden cover)
4. Great Electric Quest – Ruling this World

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST Beer Vikings Tour 2017:
11/01 Tucson AZ The Flycatcher
11/02 El Paso TX CJ’s W
11/03 San Angelo TX The Deadhorse
11/04 Austin TX Swan Dive
11/05 Dallas TX Gas Monkey
11/09 Oklahoma City OK Blue Note
11/10 Lawrence KS Replay Lounge
11/11 Savage MN Sword Metal Fest VI
11/13 Omaha NB Lookout Lounge
11/14 Wichita KS The Elbow Room
11/16 Albuquerque NM Launchpad
11/17 Tempe AZ Yucca Tap Room

Great Electric Quest is:
Tyler “T-Sweat” Dingvell – Vocals
Buddy Donner – Guitar
Daniel “MuchoDrums” Velasco – Drums
Jared Bliss – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/electricquest/
https://electricquest.bandcamp.com/
https://gloryordeathrecords.bandcamp.com

Lords of Beacon House & Great Electric Quest, Wicked Ladies split (2017)

Great Electric Quest, Chapter I (2016)

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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.

egypt

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)

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Egypt on Bandcamp

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