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Pharaoh - The Powers that Be

The Powers That Be
by Kevin Lewis at 11 June 2021, 6:15 PM

PHARAOH is an American Power Metal band from Pennsylvania. Formed in 1997, their primary influences are 80s and 90s European Power Metal bands. "The Powers That Be" is the bands fifth full-length album and their first in nine years. The record will be available through Cruz Del Sur Music on June 18, 2021.

The record starts with a nice galloping riff and an intense rhythm for the title track. The vocals have just enough grit, added to some good range, to make the tone interesting. They aren’t growls, just have a little bit of a rough edge. The guitar solo is slower than I would have thought it would be. The drums were moving faster, which is an interesting contrast. All this shows the band can add some nuance to the songs. It all works well together.

We Will Rise” is more melodic at the onset. When the verse kicks in, the tempo and tone speed up and get right into the power metal realm. The chorus drops back to a more subdued rhythm and using some layered vocals to add a lot of depth. “Waiting To Drown” starts slow and gloomy. It reminds me of LEDFOOT, a dark, bluesy artist who uses nothing but a guitar and a stomp box. The tones are really similar. The music of both is dark and enticing.

We get back to more of a power metal sound with “Lost In The Waves”. This song feels pretty epic, seeming to cover the endless battles of humans against the forces of evil or darkness. “Ride Us To Hell” has a really nice, fast-paced riff with some killer hooks. All of the songs are catchy and well-written. The guitar fills are on point and both the bass and drums stand out as being able to not only support the tempos, but to lead the song all the way along.

I love the intro to “When The World Was Mine”. That guitar tone and the vocals hanging out, waiting for the kick that you feel coming build the anticipation. When the kick happens, you almost jump for joy. The bass fill adds a nice bit of spice to the song. This is one of my favorites on the record. The whole song just works. It’s well-written and performed even better. This is the song I want to close the show. It highlights all the members of the band and their individual talents.

Freedom” is a fun song with a smooth riff and jaunty rhythm from the onset. The drums make me want to air drum along with him. The pace of the song is awesome. This is the song that leaves me sweating from jumping around. Then “Dying Sun” drops back to a much slower pace, trudging along, placing the emphasis on the melodic elements, not the speed of the song.

Wrapping the record up is “I Can Hear Them," another rapid-fire song with a killer riff and a rhythm that races along at a fantastic pace. The guitar work is excellent. The way they payer it in builds the wall of sound really well. The variable tempo for the chorus is a great offset for the rest of the song and the solo fits the song perfectly. I love how there are two themes to the solo, almost like having two different guitarists a la JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN.

This is a solid album. The musicianship is really good. The writing is also quite nice. There are elements of power, progressive and epic metal all over this record. The lyrics tell tales, not just say stuff. The ability of the band to go slow and be methodical highlight the other side, when they take off at a sprint and leave you in the dust. PHARAOH can do both with equal skill. This is a well-rounded group with talent for days. Definitely worth listening to more than once!

Songwriting:  8
Musicianship:  9
Memorability:  7
Production:  8

4 Star Rating

1. The Powers That Be
2. Will We Rise
3. Waiting to Drown
4. Lost in The Waves
5. Ride Us to Hell
6. When the World Was Mine
7. Freedom
8. Dying Sun
9. I Can Hear Them
Tim Aymar – Vocals
Chris Kerns – Bass
Chris Black – Drums
Matt Johnsen – Guitar
Record Label: Cruz Del Sur Music


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