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Pharaoh - Be Gone (CD)

Be Gone
by Grigoris Chronis at 09 May 2008, 10:11 PM

This can as well be the finest of the latest Cruz Del Sur spring 2008 releases. American traditional Heavy Metal warriors PHARAOH have - I think - surpassed their previous effort The Longest Night's quality, by delivering a fine blend of pure heavymetallic storm by the name of Be Gone. If you cry out you do not listen to neat Metal nowadays, you have no excuse towards this CD. Act fast and preserve your 80s metal-inspired ideals; you've been warned.
I first came across the PHARAOH moniker due to singer Tim Aymar's singing in late Chuck Schuldiner's CONTROL DENIED one-and-only release, The Fragile Art Of Existence. His name was carved in my mind since his dynamic vocals - with the clear flexibility to 'jump' between passion and outrage in the same verse - marked that fine release. Then, onwards came the release of PHARAOH's debut CD, After The Fire, in 2003 utilizing a dream-come-true to re-shape the IRON MAIDEN ideals into some kinda unique American formula. I can recall feeling let-down with many people saying PHARAOH was a MAIDEN clone and nothing more. Thankfully, 2006's The Longest Night was punctual enough to prove it all wrong. Twin guitar leads does not make it 'only MAIDEN'.
Now a step down in comparison to this year's Be Gone, the follow-up did bear an upgrade in consistency in songwriting and professionalism in instrumentation. Hence, PHARAOH climbed up many steps in the climax of American Metal, both keen on the HELSTAR, RIOT, TENSION and OLIVER MAGNUM guidelines and - now - ready to fully personalize their sound/style with methods adequate for Heavy/Epic contemporaries like STEEL PROPHET or DESTINY'S END. The British standards where still there; and that's for their honor to be mentioned.
The quartet of Aymar, Johnsen, Kerns, Black now proceeds to the latest lesson of how to play classic American Metal without sounding outdated. They have now enriched their songwriting with some Teutonic elements (multi-vocal choruses, speedy twin leads etc) in some songs - many will even bring DEMONS & WIZARDS to mind in e.g. Rats And Rope - while the rest remains (better than) the same. Be Gone features songs that show no rush to be credited as 'true', 'epic' and I don't know what else. They are not plain riffs stuck together, the lyrics do not in-your-face declare their loyalty to the Metal morals. Instead, the sound and profound power will make you sink your teeth into this. Aymar sings like there's no tomorrow, he's a warrior and he's a narrator whenever he wants so. His voice is distinct; he sings '80s' but also bears the persona of a man familiar with some extreme Metal stuff. At the same time, he 'goes' J.D. Kimball or Matt Barlow or - even - Graham Bonnet (e.g. in Cover Your Eyes And Pray). Really wonder how the hell this man's not yet picked by a 'mainstream' Metal act.
What about the rest of the lineup? OK, Matt Johnsen's total maestro. He surely put tons of work for ending up with such a spirit in both rhythm and lead guitar parts. Bearing in mind this should be the most complex PHARAOH release of all three, just guess what's the six-string base. His British (MAIDEN, SAXON, RAINBOW, THIN LIZZY) well of inspiration ties perfectly with his 80s American Metal culture (call me early FATES WARNING & JAG PANZER, for example) and that's an ultra benefit for the band. There's riffing everywhere, there's licks and tricks, the leads creations are excellent and - overall - the result is equally 'retro' and fresh. We rarely do witness this 'equilibrium' style nowadays. Last but not least, the Black/Kerns due stands tall in providing the most fitting backup for these songs' majesty to be unveiled. Fat and captivating, steel yet breezing, I'd not be so happy with something else.
Anything goes out for the songs: for example, Dark New Life is an up tempo GB-meets-US Metal killer with great leads (featuring guest solos from RIOT's Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz) and some roaring bass, while Red Honor will bring the legendary guidelines of OMEN to mind and Telelpath shall bombard your already weakened ears with much of metallic choir madness and MAIDEN-isque relentlessness. Listening to the whole album again and again, I can outline no filler while the orgasm of creativity stands as the flag of significance for the quartet's compositions. Really, how long will it take to get tired of such a CD? Traditional Metal music seems to be - selling-wise - a minority in our era and I really wish PHARAOH and Be Gone will prove to be a lethal weapon in defend of those steel seeking for ample and non-naive voice/guitars/bass/drums metallic freedom.

4 Star Rating

Speak To Me
Dark New Life
No Remains
Red Honor
Buried At Sea
Rats And Hope
Cover Your Eyes And Prey
Be Gone
Tim Aymar - Vocals
Matt Johnsen - Guitars
Chris Black - Drums
Chris Kerns - Bass
Record Label: Cruz Del Sur


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