Review Summary: The bluesy, more psychedelic sibling of Endless Flight…
In 2015, Egypt mentioned they were working on new music and would release two albums six months apart. Endless Flight
saw the light of day first, being a fun, 35-minute trip that nicely intertwined blues, stoner and doom metal. It’s like you were listening to pieces of Acid King, Wo Fat, Sleep and ZZ Top mashed in one cool mixtape. The heavier styles laid at the core, while the bluesy parts were only occasionally punctuating. We finally received that second record a year and a half later under the Cracks and Lines
title. Luckily, musically it goes the other way round, but it introduces us some airy psychedelic moments too.
This vintage brother of Endless Flight
is clearly defined by the two epics, ‘What Lights this Ocean’ and the title track, which together share roughly 2/3 of its total length. They showcase all Egypt’s strengths and clearly are some of their most ambitious tunes to date. ‘Cracks and Lines’ starts with some classic ‘70s vibes, using pile driving riffs on top of which Aaron Esterby is growling his lungs out. I really dig how they alternate groovy rhythms with full force riffage, until halfway, when they switch to a filthy doom segment. The band chose well to keep that momentum going for a minute or so, then fall into an eerie, subdued passage. You can barely hear the guitar and vocals howling in the background, whereas the deep bass covers most of the sonic ground. As expected, they rise for a punchy finale featuring soaring solos. On the contrast, ‘What Lights this Ocean’ is a more meditative number, starting with dreamy guitar leads and clean vocals. I like how the front man channels his versatility, as crossing from one style to another requires adjustments from his part too to be truly effective. Here, he employed an OM-like delivery that’s both simple and melodic. Amid guitar solos, sparse verses and moody bass lines, the guys build this tension that receives a slow release through some tom-heavy drumming as well as a gradual growth in volume. They burst into a raging coda, complete with Hammond organ leads, thus ending the LP on a high note.
The remaining tracks are not to be skipped since they offer some good fun too. Boasting some groovy riffs, opener ‘Final Heist’ is a powerful track that again mixes the dirty with the tuneful. Esterby once more shines, constantly switching from harsh to clean vocals. This is a cool plus for Egypt mainly because a significant number of groups forget about these aspects, leaving the instrumental’s power to capture your attention. Sometimes it works, but a lot of times you feel something’s missing overall. As the track grows in intensity, Neal proceeds to drown you in his solos. Besides ‘Final Heist’, they also included a slightly slowed down version of KISS’s ‘Watchin’ You’, turning it into a darker, creepier version of the original. It really works within the context, yet you wouldn’t tell it’s not a song of theirs. In between these cuts lies ‘Dirge’, a ballad that’s pretty much unlike anything these guys did before. As Aaron displays here his clean voice really nicely, the nostalgic chords are accompanied by tales of death and what lies beyond it. Although short, this ditty adds to the overall dynamics & diversity of Cracks and Lines
. It’s noteworthy how they worked on offering a constantly changing collage over the course of 38 sweet minutes.
In the end, Cracks and Lines
falls into that lovely category of brief but efficient records which you can easily dig into and don’t have to mentally prepare yourself to be immersed into the respective sonic universe. Each song brings something different to the table, whereas the predominantly vintage production ties them all together, distancing itself from Endless Flight
. They are like siblings that took slightly different paths. I understand why Egypt wanted to keep this batch of songs separated, because if all had been crammed on a single disc they would’ve lost some of the charm.