Saturday, 19 March 2011

#034 Pharaoh - After the Fire

Pharoah are seemingly underrated, a traditional/power metal band, hailing from the states, "After the Fire" is their first full-length album, and is, I find, an album which sounds rather good, and has left me wondering what has left this band relatively overlooked over the years. The album is an energetic, sharp, and uncompromising debut, very clearly played by a band playing exactly the style and way they feel is right.

Many bands draw influence from a small "core" of bands, and in Pharaoh's case, the main influence is very overtly Iron Maiden, with a pinch of Iced Earth and Judas Priest, which is especially reflected in the vocals. One moment, the vocalist sounds like Dickinson, the next, Ripper Owens, then suddenly he becomes Matt Barlow, before breaking into something unique. These singers are likely, judging by Pharaoh's genre, to have been an influence on the vocalist, and it is a show of his talent and range in that he can sing in such a huge range of styles, rendering the vocals one of the albums major strong-points, with songs such as "After the Fire" the title track, being fantastically powerful, especially with regards to the chorus, which is stunning.

The vocals, of course, would be nothing without the force of the other musicians driving the sound along. The guitar work is evocative in the traditional sense, with few-to-no tinkly added effects which can often spoil what would be good power metal. It is for this reason that I consider the band to be on the "traditional" side of things, which is certainly not a bad thing, as it is a definite mark of quality for a band to sound epic without too many post-production effects. The production itself is adequate, it's not bad, but nor does it sound like it was mixed and mastered by NASA. this "in-between-ness" gives it the feel of early nineties Maiden, which does it no harm whatsoever, other than making it sound a little more mature than it actually is.

While it's a good album, it doesn't break any huge barriers. The music is epic, but is not anything which hasn't been done before, however, the band has easily enough unique character to make it worthwhile, and the band have more than enough time to develop their style a little. Debuts are seldom perfect, and taking that into account, this is a good one.

I give this 7/10.

Pharaoh on Myspace