Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pharaoh - Bury the Light

Remember when power metal meant powerful metal? Those were the days when keyboards were used sparingly (if at all), when vocalists sounded like a banshee screaming their lungs out, and when the guitars had just as much crunch as they did flare. Don’t get me wrong, I love the newer power metal bands, but it seems the older style of power metal is not as prominent as it used to be. Luckily, Pharaoh is here to bring back the glory days of the 80’s.

Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Pharaoh is the very definition of US power metal: hard-hitting riffs, wailing strong vocals, and plenty of speed. “Bury the Light” is their 4th release, and is my introduction to the band. It’s safe to say that this is a solid metal record. In fact, aside from the originators of this style in the 80’s, I don’t think another band has been as convincing as Pharaoh.

Vocalist Tim Aymar, of Control Denied fame, steals the show on this album. His vocal melodies soar over top of an endless fury of riffs. The majority of the album is pretty fast, although many of the songs feature a short interlude that helps to prevent everything from blurring together. The exception to this relentless speed is “The Year of the Blizzard”, which is the longest song featuring a couple of acoustic parts, as well as a riff that is very reminiscent of Rush. For the most part though, the previously released song, “Castles in the Sky”, sums up the whole album. It’s one of those albums where every song is so energetic that you can’t help but get sucked into it. It also helps that the melodies are so well-written (both vocal and guitar lines).

Every song is fairly technical, but Pharaoh avoids the pretentiousness of being excessively techy. There is no lack of great musicianship here; as great as the riffs are, the solos are even better, and would challenge just about any guitar player. The bass playing is typical but does get a few moments play on its own, such as in the opening track “Leave Me Here To Dream”. It’s not too difficult to hear the bass, and it’s very noticeable on “Graveyard of Empires”, but for the most part, this album is about the guitars and vocals.

While Pharaoh continues the legacy of US power metal bands, they avoid sounding like a copy of any of them. There are certainly some similarities to Jag Panzer and Liege Lord, but the only band that ever seems to resemble Pharaoh is Brazilian speed metal band Hibria. Ultimately, this album delivers 9 full tracks of relentless, powerful metal. It might not be my album of the year, but I’m certain it will top quite a few lists.

Be sure to check out and like Pharaoh at their label’s page on Facebook!

“Leave Me Here To Dream”
“Castles in the Sky”
“Graveyard of Empires”

Final Rating:
4.1/5 or 82%

Written by Scott