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Friday, July 25, 2008

CD Review: Egypt Central - S/T

Egypt Central - S/T
2008 Fat Lady Music
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

For all intents and purposes, the nu-metal explosion in the late nineties died immediately after it made a dent, simply due to a matter of saturation and a going-nowhere effect once it had commercialized itself as most American rock subcultures tend to do once they catch on with a mass audience. Still, give nu-metal a little credit; it brought an awareness back to heavy metal that wasn't there previously and it acted as a catalyst to the full-on revival we have today.

Only a handful of those nu-metal acts are still around to speak of today, while Linkin Park are the darlings of their era who are still able to hold on to their audience beyond their post-adolescent breakout. Of course, this means they continue to serve as a model for certain bands who want to amp up but still maintain thick airs of melody about their business. FM radio has of late tried to metal up in recent years, usually via the inclusion of classic seventies and eighties metal tunes served in hour increments at lunchtime or midnight, but mostly they're seeking bands like Linkin Park, Trapt and Nickelback with which to strap on a heavier helmet (as an excuse to continue playing the same Boston, Kansas and Supertramp tunes they've been spinning for decades) though still make themselves attractive to their advertisers. You're not going to hear Carcass on FM, but you will Megadeth, so long as it's the more sanitized selections of the 'deth catalog, natch. For "Take No Prisoners," you go to Sirius' Hard Attack.

Of course, this mindset opens the door open for a band like Memphis' Egypt Central, a band tailor-made for FM format, although they're a bit more unrestrained than your airwave prototypes. Then again, FM has hijacked a balls-out band like Five Finger Death Punch, so a new order may soon be on the way. In the meantime, Egypt Central (named after a mysterious road in the band's hometown) has ridden the fast track to recognizability with their song "Over and Under" making an appearance in the Stone Cold Steve Austin flick The Condemned. The song, hitting the third spot on their self-titled album bears much of what you know about mainstream hard rock these days, mish-mashing Disturbed with Staind and Linkin Park.

And that is largely the scheme to Egypt Central, churning ear-friendly march rock that unfortunately follows too many scripts and modes to consider them a genuine breakthrough. It's even to the point where many of their songs follow a verse-chorus-verse plod with a breakdown section that allows lead vocalist John Falls to screech his intestines dry, which should sound more than familiar in theory. While "Taking You Down" yields the most giddyap on this album and Egypt Central themselves possess an admittedly competent rhythm section (with some flat-out funky guitar licks from Heath Hindman and Jeff James and personable-sounding bass from Joey Chicago), the album overall is unfortunately too predictible.

Worse, whatever mustard Egypt Central spreads for themselves in the opening half of the album (obviously also to be considered the radio meat of the album), the disc soon wanders about like a mallrat looking for a Hot Topic through the second half. Though finishing with a nice acoustic-led walkoff "Home," by that point Egypt Central has created an album that rocks hard for a party crowd but perhaps not so much for the outcast crew Egypt Central plies to image-wise. There's nothing wrong with writing harmonious rock tunes, particularly since this band is sure to be a summertime crowd-pleaser, but for their own identity, they should reach for something a bit higher on the next go-round.

Rating: ***

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