Pharaoh seem to be one of those bands that either click with you or not. If they do it is an unbridled affinity and if they do not it merely brings a shrug of the shoulders as to why their sound has such an effect on others. To be fair even if their power metal does not appeal one can appreciate the fine aspects to the band and understand how it sweeps others up into a keen response. With classic rock/metal and power metal not finding a home in these ears the band were on a hiding to nothing in this review but it has to be said that at times Bury The Light, their new album did pull a firm attention as often as it lost a grip on the biased ear. It certainly did not have us trawling sites to grab their previous releases but nor was listening to the album as venomous as one expected within these unwelcoming tastes.
Formed around 1997 it was with debut album After the Fire in 2003 that Pharaoh came to the attention with their sound steeped in the seeds of classic heavy metal. The focus they received was firm and ever growing especially with the release of its follow up in 2006, The Longest Night. They had earned a strong underground following at this point which spread with the release in 2008 of third album Be Gone. The marked maturity in sound and songwriting took them to more and more attention pushing them forward on a further wave of focus. With Bury The Light and its continuation of the groundwork laid by its predecessor it is sure to bring them to the gaze and notice of many more soon to be eager fans.
That is if you like this genre of music of course. Bury The Light is nicely varied within the genre but low on external influences to spice and diversify it further. For power metal fans this is not an issue and it is hard to imagine many who will not enjoy and acclaim the music and songs within the album. The quartet of vocalist Tim Aymar, guitarist Matt Johnsen, bassist Chris Kerns, and drummer Chris Black, are a skilled group of musicians who certainly are strong on songwriting and how to bring forth their ideas. Bury The Light is a vibrant release using their obvious love of metal from the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon to inspire their own sound. Though it does nothing for these ears it is impossible to dismiss the craft and honesty which veins each and every song.
There are moments which bring one up abruptly, times where the album snatches full attention from the ear. The intriguing Castles In The Sky is one example where the electronic touches make use of the element of surprise nicely, and in the expansive The Year Of The Blizzard the band explore ballad and enthused rock n roll with a skilled hand and intelligent vision. The song actually is very well composed and though there was a wish they dwelled on the slower elements more it works very well. With the impressive beefy riffs and dynamic melodies of The Spider’s Thread and the teasing forceful might of Cry the album often leapt out with a firm eagerness.
There is hard to find any real flaws with the album, the production is quite raw but that actually gives a darker edge to the energy which works well. Though not a style and delivery that works here, anyone with a love of classic metal and enthused power metal will find more than enough to excite their ears. Pharaoh create music with an energy and melodic certainty that is sure to ignite the hearts of old traditional metal fans everywhere.