Release Date: March 6, 2012
The four-piece American heavy metal band, Pharaoh, release their fourth full-length album, Bury The Light following 2008’s Be Gone. Be Gone has stood steadfast in being a fan favorite, where the bandmates found themselves experimenting with different song forms and combining collaborations of songwriting. After their 2008 album was released, they were able to concentrate their efforts on the writing for Bury The Light, which has been influenced by the creative process that Be Gone had undergone.
Combining the influences of classic heavy metal bands and various other styles of music, Pharaoh has achieved a progressive sound that they can call their own. Their compositions consisting of multi-layered guitars, complicated and powerful drums, elegant bass lines, and driven, commanding vocals, which really give Pharaoh their own place in the heavy/power metal genre. These characteristics aren’t any different in their newest installment.
“Leave Me Here To Dream” kicks off with a nice melodic thrash guitar, flowing into the melodic bass line accompanied with guitar stabs. This creates a nice feel for what the album has awaiting for you, a nice powerful but regal work that doesn’t let up in quality. Tim Aymar steps in with his fierce power metal vocals, which never let up. Matt Johnsen’s guitar work definitely leaves a great first impression, flowing effortlessly, between the catchy, recurring melody and the face-melting solo. Chris Kerns’ bass keeps a nice strong rhythm, accompanied with Chris Black’s strong and steadfast drumming.
“The Wolves” takes on a bit more of the direct thrash metal approach, with Tim’s vocals making use of a few different ranges throughout. You don’t get to hear much of Matt’s guitar work in this song, as it seems to be a bit more focused on vocals and the rhythm. There are a few defining moments though when you hear that nice riff or two before heading back into it, as well as a nice dominant guitar solo. “Castles In The Sky” takes a different path than its predecessors, altering melodies throughout, and Tim’s vocals being spot on. Johnsen’s guitar work excels yet again, maintaining more of a presence then the previous.
“The Year Of The Blizzard” begins with the fading in of a dual guitar composition, immediately stopping, turning into a simple acoustic guitar strumming. The vocalist takes another turn, singing with a more clear sound, losing the raspy edge. A classic heavy metal riff makes an entrance, definitely showing some of their musical influences. Halfway through, “Year of the Blizzard” immediately becomes the most interesting track so far in the album, with an exploration of many harmonies.
“The Spider’s Thread” begins with a nice elegant guitar piece, phasing out to something a bit crunchier throughout. The vocals take on a bit more of the rasp and growl accented singing. “The Spiders Thread” wades into a more progressive approach, adding more depth to this already intricate album.
“Cry” is a bit softer tune, still introducing Johnsen’s signature guitar riffs. Although not exactly a ballad of any sort, “Cry” shows more of a slower-paced tempo and rhythm compared to the rest of the album; until you hit the solo, which speeds things along with a nice galloping beat. “Graveyard of Empires” seems more like a filler track for the most part, trekking through already explored waters. One major positive however is the nice complicated solo that occurs halfway through. Not a bad song at all, definitely one of those “fist-pumpers” for sure and keeps you enthralled easily.
“Burn With Me” and “In Your Hands” begin the closing of the album, feeding off from the previous tracks, with some nice solos and the usual rhythms. “The Spider’s Thread (reprise)” is the last track of the album, just as the name implies, it is a repeat of a passage from “The Spider’s Thread”. Although I’m not sure why it ended up being the ending it winds up working well using a nice fade out.
All in all, this album definitely takes you to another plane in the heavy metal genre. Multi-layered soundscapes are quite a theme, along with intricate and defining guitar solos that can leave you in the dust if you’re not careful. This album takes a few listens to really get the punch, which may be a drawback for some listeners. Although the instrumentals are very defining, sometimes its hard to hear the bass in a few songs, and the drumming doesn’t get too technical. If you want a bit more of a progressive edge with some old school heavy metal influence, this album is for you.
You can check out the band’s track by track breakdown HERE.