Archive for May 10, 2008

Pharaoh – Be Gone (2008, Cruz Del Sur)

  1. Speak To Me
  2. Dark New Life
  3. No Remains
  4. Red Honor
  5. Buried At Sea
  6. Rats And Rope
  7. Cover Your Eyes And Pray
  8. Telepath
  9. Be Gone

Band Lineup:
Tim Aymar – Vocals
Matt Johnsen – Guitars
Chris Kerns – Bass
Chris Black – Drums

Total Time = 47:11

Pharaoh official website
Pharaoh MySpace page
Cruz Del Sur Music

U.S. Traditional Metal masters Pharaoh caught my ear back in 2006 with their second album, THE LONGEST NIGHT. What I discovered two years ago was that pure Traditional/Power Metal in the same vein as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden was being forged by this Philadelphia band. I was under the impression that Pharaoh was a European band because of their Italian label, Cruz Del Sur, and the ease in which they play this brand of Heavy Metal. With the Power Metal surge coming from overseas, I was more than surprised that Pharaoh was from the U.S. BE GONE is the band’s third record and could be their ticket to Metal’s upper echelon.

‘Speak To Me’ opens the album with a distinct Iron Maiden style riff  moving into Primal Fear territory as the song progresses. Right away you notice Matt Johnsen’s masterful guitarwork that sounds like a twin axe attack and Tim Aymar’s (ex-Control Denied) attacking throat. The pulsating riffs of ‘Dark New Life’ recall Maiden again but there is a more sinsiter feel to the music kind of like another Maiden band disciple, Iced Earth. The solos feature a couple of guests from another U.S. Traditional/Power Metal band, Riot’s Marke Reale & Mike Flyntz. ‘No Remains’ is a galloping metal feast with superb drumming from Chris Black and a Aymar vocal that evokes power and emotion. Johnsen’s layered guitar carves it’s way through the song using different tones.

‘Red Honor’ continues the assault of hard and fast Metal, almost like old school Thrash. The song is marked by some incredible axe-slinging by Matt Johnsen, especially come the solo, and the distinct pain riddled shriek of Aymar. Things slow down a bit with the beginning of ‘Buried At Sea’ but the power and speed is still there, just a little more controlled and melodic. ‘Buried At Sea’ reminds me a little of Manowar but without the high pitch vocals. Things speed up again with ‘Rats And Rope’ with it’s Euro Metal main riff recalling Dragonforce, this is the fastest burner on the record.

The acoustic intro to ‘Cover Your Eyes And Pray’ hides a heavy mid-tempo groove with solid riffs and a consistent double bass pounding from the kit. The pace is considerably slower from the breakneck pace of ‘Rats And Rope’ but the song owes it’s deceiving speed to Johnsen’s fluid delivery and Black’s pounding drums. There’s some room to breathe here, room enough for the band to stretch a little. ‘Telepath’ covers more of speed riffery of the previous songs while the title track ends the album with a bit of Progressive flair.

Bottom Line:
Traditional Metal is alive and well in the U.S. and one of the bands forging ahead in this overlooked genre is Pharaoh. BE GONE is full of high powered riffs and precision drumming layered within a pumping bass and a vocal full of power and despair. The solos are fantastic and the production flawless. So what is the downside? Not much really, the only problem is that the band continually rams the songs down and doesn’t take time to explore different styles and paces. After the first four songs, you get the idea, but when the band does stretch out, it adds more variety to the album. For fans of Power and Progressive Metal. Favorite songs here: ‘Buried At Sea’, ‘Dark New Life’, ‘Speak To Me’, ‘Cover Your Eyes And Pray’.