THE DEMO CORNER
It seems like only yesterday that I was hunting down a copy of Pharaoh’s debut, After the Fire. I had heard that Tim Amyar from Control Denied was the vocalist and I was curious to see what he was up to. That was almost ten years ago, and I have been hooked on this band ever since. Pharaoh’s brand of no-nonsense American power metal really stands out when compared to some of the more frilly sounding stuff that has been coming out of Europe over the last decade. They are the type of power metal band that people who aren’t normally inclined to enjoy the genre can really latch on to.
Bury the Light isn’t going to be a surprise to the band’s existing fans; it is exactly what anybody who has listened to their last three albums would expect. There might be a little bit more of a progressive twist to some of the tracks. Both “Graveyards of Empires“ and “The Wolves” are complex songs that feature multilayered melodies and interesting instrumental sections. Pharaoh always seems to maintain a song first focus though, and even with their most intricate material everything seems well thought out. Songs like “Leave Me Here to Dream” and “Burn With Me” employ a more direct attack and perhaps lean a bit more to the traditional heavy metal side of things. “The Year of the Blizzard,” on the other hand, is an excellent song that seems to have a strong 70’s prog-rock influence in certain spots. Bury the Light is an album with a lot of different sounding songs that are all clearly related and fit very well next to each other in the context of the album.
Bury the Light features an excellent production where every instrument seems to be mixed to just the right level. I really like the way Chris Kerns’ bass can be heard weaving in and out of the guitar melodies. Tim Amyar turns in a rock solid vocal performance; he combines good range with just a touch of grit and shows enough restraint in his delivery to keep the vocals from dominating the songs. The guitar work is also quite superb. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find a more tightly woven collection of melodies than the ones that you will find on Bury the Light. There is even a guest appearance by King Diamond guitarist Mike Wead on “Castles in the Sky.”
Pharaoh is a band that should probably be more well-known at this point in their career. They take the hard driving backbone that allowed classic bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to sound aggressive even during their most melodic moments and blend it with just the right amount of the flash and precision that define modern power metal. The closest direct comparison that I can make would be Jag Panzer, but fans of traditional, progressive and power metal should all find something to sink their teeth into on Bury the Light. It is just a really good heavy metal album.
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1. Leave Me Here to Dream
2. The Wolves
3. Castles in the Sky
4. The Year of the Blizzard
5. The Spider’s Thread
7. Graveyard of Empires
8. Burn with Me
9. In Your Hands
10. The Spider’s Thread (reprise)
Total playing time: 48:22
Release Date: February 24, 2012
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Pharaoh - Bury the Light
March 11, 2012