April 10, 2008

CD Review: Egypt Central - Egypt Central

If ever there was an album that took forever to reach the market (aside from Guns n' Roses Chinese Democracy), this has to be up there. Signed back in 2005 to Lava Records, Egypt Central went to work with producer Josh Abraham (Orgy, Staind, Linkin Park, Velvet Revolver) and recorded what was planned to be their debut album. However, a shake-up within the label left them dropped and their album unreleased. Following their release, the band released the album independently, where it did very well. Then came the next record deal, this time with Bieler Bros, in 2006. This, again, did not result in a release and the two parties parted ways. A successful run on Ozzfest's second stage, they have now signed with Fat Lady Music and their self titled debut album is now going to see the light of day. Now, the big question is whether or not the wait was worth it.

As I made my initial listen, two thoughts ran circles through my gray matter. My first thought was that the album was solid. The music is well crafted, slickly produced, and filled with radio-friendly, catchy riffs. There is no denying how easy this is to listen to. The other thought, which competed for equal attention, was that this sound is hitting much too late, it sounds like something that would have been huge five or six years ago. This was before learning of the albums long history. The band formed in 2001, was signed on the basis of their demo and strong live performance in 2005, which would have been a little bit late, but still within the territory of popularity for the style. However, three years later, despite the music being solid, the chances of them hitting it real big, at least with this release are towards the shallower end of the pool. Then again, this is just me taking a guess, and they have as good a chance as any to strike a chord with a mainstream audience.

The sound is reminiscent of Chevelle, Saliva, and other post-nu metal/alt metal/hard rock acts. Is that enough genres for you? I can't stand all of these labels, and these may not even fit, but they seem to be the most accurate way to describe their sound. Each song seems tailor-made for the radio set, with most having easily accessible hooks and with run times all under 4 minutes, save for one.

Egypt Central is far from a great album. However, they do show a good deal of talent, and what they have here could prove to be a strong bed to build on into the future. I have to believe that, besides wanting to get this album out there and hit the road in support, they are itching to get some new songs down to demonstrate the growth they have gone through over the past few years.

Despite this not being "great" (and who truly defines that in mainstream oriented alt-metal?), this is definitely an album that you can turn up and groove to. I swear I could almost feel the live energy emanating from the speakers. The production is crisp and there are moments where they really shine, particularly on tracks like "You Make Me Sick," "Over and Under," and "The Way."

Vocalist John Falls has a decent, if not spectacular voice, adept at melodic and screaming styles. I only ask that he refrain from his attempts at rapping. Guitarists Heath Hindman and Jeff James work well together, delivering those catchy riffs and providing the driving force of their music. If you listen closely, you will hear some very tasty offerings from bassist Joey Chicago, at moments they sound reminiscent of Mudvayne. Then there is drummer Blake Allison, solid, if unspectacular behind the kit.

Finally, it should be noted that this album is the same as the self-released version from a few years back. The only difference being that this disk has been remixed and remastered. So, if you already have it, you may want to think twice about picking up this one.

Bottomline. Easy to like, if ultimately insubstantial, Egypt Central display some promise for the mainstream alt-metal circuit. The album is catchy, doesn't overstay its welcome and features slick production values. If you are a fan of radio-friendly heavy tunes, this will be well worth your time to spend a little time with.

Next up: Seeing them live when they come through my town in a week or so with Drowning Pool and Nonpoint.



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