Last year the American Power Metal formation PHARAOH released the “Ten Years” EP, consisting of unreleased tracks, tracks that were released on 7″ and covers. As you could read in my review (see here) this was a recommended release, mainly for the fans of the band. The full-lengths remain more the kind of releases for general fans. The EP also was an in-between while awaiting the follow-up to “Be Gone” from 2008. And this follow-up, PHARAOH’s fourth full-length, came out on the 24th February this year under the title “Bury The Light” and contains nine tracks.
It starts with “Leave Me Here To Dream”, a firm Power Metal track. Fast at first, then guitar bursts and a distorted bass line. The firm verses, with an aggressive Tim Aymar on vocals, come in sight, are approached through melodic building. In the melodic chorus the drums stand out, in that you don’t get the standard playing. An atmospheric bridge breaks the power a little before this does come out at full force and the band cranks it up, together with the solo. In the mix you can clearly hear the bass, which adds to the groove and rhythm. That’s not a bad thing at all, to put the bass this high. It depends on the style and the song, but here it does fit.
“The Wolves” follows with a direct start, speedy and uptempo. The music races onwards! The bass is again very audible. The Metal is a bit more melodic, but Tim’s voice remains… passionate. The chorus is divided in two: tight at first, more melodic when the title is sung. Somehow this song sounds a bit like DIO (the band), but it could also be because of Tim’s singing. “Castles In The Sky” is a hymnic Power Metal song. It rocks, without a doubt, even if the guitar input is melodic, which is imperative for this kind of song. This is also shown in the chorus. The middle of the track is atmospheric, after the power is rebuilt to let the solo kick in. All in all, a good song, but a bit less attractive.
A title like “The Year Of The Blizzard” could mislead you into thinking you’ll get a furious song here. Nothing of that. It’s a ballad, or close enough. The verses are acoustic and Tim’s voice also sounds cleaner, more emotional. The music does get a tad heavier, i.e. rocks more (in vein of IRON MAIDEN, somehow), as the song progresses. Thin of it as a more powerful kind of Bluesy Metal, but the full power is of course unleashed later on and with a gallopping rhythm. It’s catchy, entertaining and very effective! The chorus is quite fierce, contains double bass and could have been written by MANOWAR. Halfway the song PHARAOH drops the Metal, chooses to introduce the acoustic theme of the beginning and restart the cycle (where the power increases and so on).
“The Spider’s Thread” begins clean, carries on with electric power, midtempo and not too fast either. As if preparing for a proper kick-off. Then the firm verses set in with Tim singing like we’re used to hear from him. The song rocks, but there’s a high focus on melody. Time to shred comes halfway. All falls back to something calmer, perparing the mind for the solo that’s due. No complaints from my part, this is another strong song. But “Cry” and “Graveyard Of Empires” aren’t as attractive, I would say. “Cry” begins slow, followed by emotional Heavy Metal. Important here is the rhythmic riffing and solo halfway. It’s a simple, almost anthemic song. “Graveyard Of Empires” is also a Heavy Metal track where melody plays a role. However, it’s difficult to follow, to take it all in. Almost as if the parts are forced. Tim also sings too hard/harsh. It doesn’t go that well with the music. The acoustic break halfway should offer change and rest, but it doesn’t really save the song, so to speak. Perhaps with multiple listens the appreciation might grow, but at this point I can’t consider it as strongly as most of the others.
Bluesy Heavy Metal is what you get in “Burn With Me”, which also has a dark feel. The obligatory solo is positioned halfway the track and it’s nice to see, eh, hear how the drums fall silent in that last moment before the chorus bursts in again. The last proper song is “In Your Hands”. This one begins acoustically, then the Power Metal kicks in. Tim’s singing is adjusted and thus sounds aggressive again. The chorus is a pounding, but melodic one. And yes, you get solos too. The last track is “The Spider’s Thread (Reprise)”, i.e. the theme of track no. 5. Why it comes back and why here, I don’t know.
Twice I have been pleasantly suprised by PHARAOH and despite a few less attractive songs, the Americans have done it again and made another strong Heavy/Power Metal album. Is it better than “Be Gone” (2008)? Depending on the song, it might be. On a whole… I can’t say. They’re both worth checking out. But, as it goes, I do have to say I found the production on “Bury The Light” a bit on the light side and since Tim isn’t always singing in a clean way, the extra punch in terms of sound can only be beneficial for the album. Maybe next time? Other than that, you can’t go wrong with PHARAOH’s newest.
- Leave Me Here to Dream
- The Wolves
- Castles In The Sky
- The Year of the Blizzard
- The Spider’s Thread
- Graveyard Of Empires
- Burn With Me
- In Your Hands
- The Spider’s Thread (Reprise)
Tim Aymar – vocals
Matt Johnsen – guitars
Chris Kerns – bass
Chris Black – drums