Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pharaoh - Bury The Light [2012]

Pharaoh have been around for over ten years already, and “Bury the Light” being my first encounter with this band, I have no basis for comparison to their older material, but what I can say with absolute certainty is that Pharaoh are delivering some of the best power metal of late, and “Bury the Light” is sure to become the greatest power metal album of 2012 (if not among the some of the best of the entire 21st century). With extremely tight musicianship and songwriting, their devotion and love toward their music is indisputable, and all of the four members in this band contribute their part to create a fantastic album and deliver their absolute best. Traits of the mighty power metal of the 80s are present in this USPM band’s fourth full-length to date, with creative melodies and solid musicianship, yet they infuse some progressive thrash influences into their riffing as well.

In addition to the fantastic and concise riffing brought about by the talented guitarist (who assumes all guitarist responsibilities on this record) Matt Johnsen, the vocals are easily the second if not the best facet on this album. Tim Aymar’s incredibly powerful voice delivers spiraling vocals with a talented range and great strength to them, and he does so much for the album without which “Bury the Light” would not have turned out such a great result in the first place. As great and powerful as they are, though, they in no way outshine the equally talented guitar work that Johnsen can be praised for. There’s a lot of variation--as to be expected and required from a power metal album--with thrashier tracks seen amongst melodic tunes and some more anthem-y/cheesy choruses (after all, what’s a power metal album without some of these, anyway?) Thankfully, the use of modern melodies isn’t overly nor overbearingly prominent here, as can be seen in the first few tracks that bring about with them a thrashier and more headbangable quality. The lead work is also praise-worthy, hard to match in this day and age and undeniably creative with fast picking and sweeping patterns. Most of the riffs on this album are memorable and catchy, very rarely having sub-par tracks, and even the worst on the album having decent riffs.

With “Bury The Light,” Pharaoh prove to be one of the best power metal acts today, and this record is probably going to make a lot of year-end lists for 2012. Beside the guitars and vocals, the drums are always fast and ferocious, perhaps the robust double bass work being their most stand-out trait. The only instrument on this album that doesn’t stand out among their companions is the bass guitar, yet it’s still respectable. The entire album flows exceptionally well and has lots of variety, retaining an old-school feel to it even if it has lots of modern metal traits. Pharaoh have definitely delivered with this album; its quality, authenticity and sturdy musicianship is irrefutable; any power metal fan is sure to like this--scratch that. Any power/heavy metal fan must get their hands on this and see for themselves what Pharaoh have accomplished in the year 2012, where quality power metal is a rare sight indeed.



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