Friday, 30 March 2012

#142 Overkill - Feel the Fire

Overkill are, beyond all reasonable doubt, the veteran thrash band of veteran thrash bands - Forming back in the mists of 1980, and making albums with little interruption ever since. Feel the Fire is the bands debut full-length, and was released in 1985, which, aside from meaning that it has the "classic-thrash" seal of approval as standard, also means that it's a relatively late start, when combined with the bands formation, makes it something of a late starter. Arguably, good things are worth waiting for.

There are a couple of thrash albums which possess a certain feel - that of a band who were making such an album before anyone could quite agree on what thrash was. Most such albums are a little bit older than this one - Show no Mercy and Kill Em' All being prime examples. I'm tempted to say that Feel the Fire may well be one of the last thrash albums to have this style without it being a case of emulation. Enough about me describing it - I'd best elaborate. The "primitive" feel of the album is very pleasing, giving it a rough, vintage charm which pure, straight forward thrash albums don't always have. Overkill have, as far as I can tell, always been quite melodic as thrash bands go, and it's particularly apparent on this album, and the "not-quite-thrash-but-definitely-more-than-just-speed-metal" feel makes for a catchy and somewhat manic listen. Foreshadowing just about every album the band would make, Bobby Blitz' vocals are utterly thrash, and I'll argue quite openly that he has one of the best voices in thrash as a whole, with his quirky vocals and often extremely hook-laden lyrics making the songs memorable and above all quite fun. In Feel the Fire the vocals seem a little more sung than they would be later, which reinforces further the albums proto-thrash feel.

The drums are a bit off-time sometimes, and the production is a little bit minimal, but I didn't find either of these things to be  bothering me unduly. It just seems to fit.  The whole album has a bit of a rag-tag, "made-in-a-shed" production theme going on, which I feel is an aesthetic which thrash bands today really need to foster once again. The playing is far from seamless, but that itself has a raw appeal. Aside from the drums clattering a bit, it's a pretty tasty, if slightly rough production job. The signature overkill tone is already present in the guitars, even at this relatively early stage, and despite being a little different from quintessential Overkill, this album certainly showcases most of what the band would do for years to come, and do well at that. It may be a taste of what was, at the time, not quite fully ripened yet, but it's still a great listen and a true thrash essential.

 Debuts can say a lot about a band. Cliched as it may sound, Feel the Fire is no exception to this. The unique and thoroughly enjoyable Overkill aesthetic is immediately and utterly apparent. It's difficult to convey what the music tells me but this album... It's Overkill, no doubt about that.

This is a 9/10. I need to be more mean. Perhaps if I didn't review stuff I already bloody like most of the time...

Overkill Official site
Overkill on Myspace
Overkill on Facebook
Overkill on Metal Archives

Thursday, 29 March 2012

We now have a Facebook page!

Heavy Metal Spotlight now has a fecebook page which you can like to keep up to date with the latest reviews and goings on;

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

#141 Percht - The Aftermath of a Velvet Season

Something undeniably a little more on the obscure side now, Percht is a band I ran into on the Metal Archives forum a day or two ago. I've not listened to as much non-standard black metal as I should have over the years, and quite a portion of the epic/ambient/post/generally fancy subgenres are something of a mystery to me. Probably to my detriment, I'm not one to let a complete lack of knowledge about something get in the way of me reviewing it.

As is often my persuasion, I'll convert my impression of the band into a tactile one. This band is definitely silky, velvety, and the album is altogether befitting of it's title; "The Aftermath of a Velvet Season". The music is melancholic and yet also euphoric, with a mixture of sadness and joy which is rather unfathomable but thoroughly fabulous to listen to. The tremolos which make up a lot of the guitar work on the album dance very elegantly, with non-sinister scales and epic, warm, and golden-sunlit vibes being given off. The tremolos benefit from a "two-level" sound which the music seems to hold - The bass, or at least, the lower elements are very audible in the mix, and really adds depth to the music - especially in the clean-vocal sections, of which most songs have at least a couple - It's like hearing a whole different dimension of sound, and I don't exaggerate in saying that it's extensively pleasing to the ear. I've not listened to a great deal of black metal in this atmospheric style, and I don't know if I'd trust my own judgement in saying that this sounds unique if the general consensus didn't seem to agree with such a statement.

The major strong point of  strong points for this album, and indeed all of the songs which the project creates, are the murmuring, beautiful clean-vocal sections. With a singing voice which sounds like something between Quorthon and the soft vocals of Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved, in many places, consequently, there is a touch of the Viking about the music. It's certainly got a mountainous epic feel to it, but at the same time, the music manages to conjure a soft, multi-dimensional pocket of sound which is contrastingly intense and lullaby-like. I've never been entirely sure how uniqueness ties in with music simply sounding good, and I expect it would take someone much wiser to think about that, so I'm unsure if the uniqueness of the music is related in any way to the fact that it's excellent. Perhaps Ferre, the man behind the project is simply good at what he does, and what he does happens also to be refreshingly original in a good number of ways as well. Whatever is is, I enjoyed every single track on the album. I tend to enjoy bands which combine a bit of everything, and if you listen youself, I'm sure it's easy enough to pick up on the fact that this band is one of those.

I'm very pleased to have happened upon this music, and a definite thanks to the metal archives user "Stormm", who made the thread about Percht, thus helping me discover some damn fine music. I'm delighted at what I'm listening to. It ticks so many boxes - Percht make beauty the way I like it; Shimmering, echoing and above all un-cliched.

A definite and well-deserved 9/10.

Percht on Myspace
Percht on Facebook
Percht on Metal Archives

Sunday, 25 March 2012

#140 Bloodshot Dawn - S/T

I saw Bloodshot Dawn about month ago, if I remember rightly. The band was opening for Fleshgod Apocalypse, and certainly appeared out of left field, with a style much more melodic than that of many of the other supporting bands, which mostly took the brutal persuasion. I didn't have a clue what Bloodshot Dawn were going to sound like before I saw them, but it's definitely true to say that I was intrigued to the point of having a listen to their album. Which, incidentally, I've finally gotten around to.

What caught my attention in a meaningful way, that is, not including the contrast between them and the other acts, was the virtuosity of their lead-guitar. On the album, as live, the solos are frequent, and nimbly executed. The guitar tone is very "shimmering" and quite clean - certainly almost entirely free from fuzz and clutter which is  usually unavoidable in metal of any great extremity. The solos are, on the whole, memorable and, while conventional, also quite distinct  - there are certainly bands who solo in a similar fashion, but not many who solo with quite the aptitude. The excellent lead guitar doesn't, fortunately, distract from the rhythm. There's many a monster riff sitting around the album, with crunchy and energetic  riffs abound. Definitely done in the "modern" style, with occasional groove-like sections, and those pinch-harmonics which turn up everywhere, but also importing influences from older death-metal and even thrash here and there. While the band's claim to be melodic death metal is accurate enough, there's certainly plenty of normal death-metal kicking about in the mixture as well, certainly pushing the band onto the heavy edge of melodeath.

Juxtaposed to being bone-crunching and riffy, the band also manage to produce quite an epic feel in places, especially when the lead guitar comes in, adding a strange but welcome element of beauty to the equation, with a bit of sparkle thrown in amongst the gritty, head-whirling riffs. The band go in some interesting directions on the album, with "Prototype", the tenth track, and "Archetype", the eleventh, really showcasing the lead-guitar work and epic-feel that the band can conjure on occasion, with the latter especially a great example of just how tight and technical the band seem to be able to be, and songs in such a vein would certainly be an interesting, and potentially very distinct style for the band to pursue in whatever they intend to release next. The album really is quite a powerful collection of material, and is a relatively filler-free onslaught which is impressively unrelenting and bursting with energy.

Bloodshot Dawn have a good chance of being successful, or so it seems to me. They've got the the correct formula, and they've got that certain spark that all good bands possess. The style they play may not be outlandish, quite the opposite - melodeath has been well-charted  territory for years, but that doesn't matter; The band are taking an established genre, and damn, they're doing it well.

I'm going to give this 8/10.

Bloodshot Dawn on Myspace
Bloodshot Dawn on Facebook
Bloodshot Dawn on Bandcamp

Thursday, 22 March 2012

#139 Speedwolf - Ride With Death

One of the more recent developments, or perhaps stylistic re-surfacings, in metal is for extremity to be combined with a much more rocking vibe. This, of course, has been done throughout the music's history, with bands like Venom and Motorhead doing it before it was invented, and a few bands have been carrying the torch ever since. Of late, the style seems to have been a lot more active, albeit very spread out, with punk, rock n' roll and extreme metal being fused in various incarnations. The speedy, thrashy and very much rock-and-roll-attitude band Speedwolf are such an incarnation.

Speedwolf play what is essentially thrash, but with a lot of speed metal influence and some serious catchy, rock n' roll attitude and hooks along the way. A lot of the songs have a lot of bounce and manic energy, combined with melodic, solos in places, and the general vibe of a band who are playing the same songs live as in the studio, with uncompromisingly organic playing and indeed production. The speed and energy of Speedwolf's sound makes it almost impossible to be unmoved by the songs, and all of them, for want of a better description, give you the urge to go fast, in whatever activity the music coincides with. The songs are wickedly catchy, with choruses such as that of the self-titled song, "Speedwolf" possessing a brief, albeit monstrously memorable quality. In most of the songs this is bolstered considerably by melodies which are nothing short of excellent, and fit into the one-guitar context of the band very nicely - despite, as far as my ears tell me, having no rhythm guitar below them (except in a solo or two), they still sound as powerful as they are catchy and technical.

 The album really whizzes past at breakneck speed, and if one was to be headbanging to this live, you'd certainly be knackared by the end of the set. It was tricky at first to listen to the whole album and take it in without the short, fast songs blending into each other a bit, especially considering that it's fourteen tracks in length. After a few listens, fortunately, all was well, and I was picking up on the album much better, which is certainly something I'd have liked to know before listening; if you're not careful, it thunders past in a blur, like so many leather clad bikers. It'd certainly be a difficult album to spin casually when you've not remembered the songs properly, and as a result it's an album which grows on you. From the first listen, I enjoyed the sound, but after a few more, I began to enjoy the songs themselves, which is by far the best way to enjoy music, in my opinion. It takes one thing to enjoy how a band "sounds", but true pleasure comes from knowing the songs, and knowing where the best bits are.

The artwork isn't always something you can judge an album on, but in this case, it is. Speedwolf is rather epitomised by their artwork on this album - epic, fast and organic - full to the absolute brim with rock and roll attitude and uncompromising heavy-metal thunder.

I'm going to give this 8/10.

Speedwolf on Myspace
Speedwolf on Facebook
Speedwolf on Metal Archives

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

#138 Leviathan - The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide

Looking at this months selection of reviews, I noticed that so far I've covered two traditional-metal albums, two power-metal, and one doom. Slightly on the non-extreme side, I feel, and thus, I'm setting out to balance out the month with something a bit more caustic. Leviathan are one of black-metal's more successful and productive one-man projects, and is certainly a candidate for one of the USA's finer black-metal outfits. The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide, his d├ębut, is where it all began.

There is something inherently non-European about Leviathan. Not quite identifiably so, but there's certainly a feel of otherness to it. Looking up the release date, I expected some point in the nineties, but in fact, this album dates from 2003, which took me reasonably by surprise. The album sounds very orthodox and pure, especially for it's relative age, but also possesses a twist to such a persuasion; The darkness which is carried by the music is different to that exuded by the themes of conventional black-metal. A bleak, poisoned darkness, with no God or Satan is conjured up by the album, and is driven home as much by the dark, melancholic sections, such as the ending of "The Bitter Emblem of Dissolve". The well-executed riffs, which carry the album along with a fairly mid-range level of rawness. The vocals tend to be shrieked and gurgled in a style much reminiscent of Maniac's performance with Mayhem, but also vary throughout the album, bringing together various elements and soundscapes, and it's beyond question that Wrest, the man behind it all, is not afraid to pick and choose styles to suit sections, such as the agonised murmuring and ghostly wailing in "Sardoniscorn". The variation perhaps shows his aptitude as a composer - the music is certainly a level of complexity above what most people could make entirely by themselves. He even did the artwork.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that drum-programming had been used in the album, but I'm informed apparently this is not the case; An electronic drum kit was used, but I enjoy the fact that even the drums have been played the old-fashioned way, and can certainly turn a blind eye to the way in which the kit has given them a very artificial feel. There's a real feeling of completeness from knowing that Wrest has done literally everything himself. The ambient influences and sections in the album are also particularly enjoyable, and add a lot of atmosphere, fortifying the eerie, angry, grim and caustic atmosphere generated by the instruments alone, and the sections which are chiefly ambient really decorate and make-whole the album, with creepy, often depressive vignettes between songs, and often between sections within songs really tying the whole thing together effectively.

Good United-states black metal is hard to come by, many will inform you. Personally, I think the nation has a lot to offer, albeit a lot of it rather hard to find, but even to those most in doubt of the nations capacity to produce decent black-metal, I'd like to think that this album is a good indicator that atleast one good black-metal outfit exists west of the Atlantic.

I'm going to give this a 9/10. It gets better with successive listens.

Leviathan on Metal Archives

Sunday, 18 March 2012

#137 Judd Madden - Doomgroove

Judd Madden is, as I've mentioned in a review of his first album, "Waterfall",  a one-man project dealing with doom and stoner metal, with all-sorts else thrown inbetween. Doomgroove is the fourth release in the diverse range of sounds which he has released since early 2010, and carries on the bands established and distinct aesthetic style, but also manages to stand out on it's own, as a couple of listens have shown me.

The first thing which hits me is an impression that Judd Madden thoroughly enjoys making the music which he releases. The notion that this is so seems to ooze from the songs themselves in ways I'm not quite sure how to put into words. Essentially, the album has a feel that effort and soul has really been poured into it. A lot of atmosphere is projected by the songs, and despite being instrumental in it's entirety, the album seems deep. Evolving somewhat from "Drown" which, as it's name might imply, had a murky, underwater atmosphere, "Doomgroove" feels more like it's emerged from the waves and climbed ashore, and the whole album seems a bit lighter and more optimistic. The soundscape generated it, however, equally gargantuan and syrupy in tone, with hypnotic long songs which, despite plenty of repetition - almost a given for their length - and lack of vocals, still have plenty to offer to earn the "right" to their length. There's a lot of diversity throughout the album, with intensely doomy sections, often with catchy hooks, supported by gigantic sustain, but also slower, almost drone-like sections, and parts where the drumming comes forward to become the main instrument being showcased.

The drumming in Judd Madden's material in general is a very distinct style. I'm not entirely sure what, but certainly something which has been imported inventively into a metal context, and the fills, especially, really have a uniqueness to them, as if Australian instrumental doom-metal wasn't unique enough. The production job gets an inadvertent mention for being fantastically pure, capturing instruments exactly as they sound; crisp, natural and fresh. The songs also seem a little more elaborate than they did on "Drown", and are certainly more flavoured with bridge-sections and suchlike decoration, sometimes bordering on being progressive, which adds multiple levels to the enjoyment of the album. The hypnotic, trance-inducing repetition doesn't die out, however, and it remains in many of the songs, to be enjoyed or to cause frustration, dependant on your persuasion.

I have to confess, I had no idea that Judd Madden was working on new material - the project as a whole was out of my attention for a while, but this album has certainly re-kindled my interest by quite a degree. It's good to see that this album is just as good as what came before it.

I'm going to give this 8/10.

Judd Madden Official site
Judd Madden on Facebook
Judd Madden on Bandcamp (With the album as a free or pay-what-you-want download)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

#136 Blaze Bayley - The King of Metal

A lot of my friends have followed Blaze Bayley's solo career post Iron Maiden with a great deal of interest, and often enjoyment. Most of my friends, in this instance, tell me, through grief-infused tears, that the album is far from enjoyable. Prepared for the worst, I donned my chainmail, picked up my laptop and rode out to meet the creature head-on.

You can never judge a book by it's cover, or indeed, an album by it's artwork. You can, however, have a reasonable guess. The cover, while smooth, doesn't immediately shout much for the album's quality, and, sadly, neither does the first song, "The King of Metal"; It's memorable enough, but is lacking in many aspects, not-fucking-least in character. A couple of riffs cobbled together, with no real lead guitar whatsoever, aside from a random single note at a seemingly arbitrary position, and very rushed sounding vocals. In my ancient review of "Promise and Terror", the predecessor to this album, I held Blaze's singing as above that which he produced in Iron Maiden. This time, sadly, the reverse is true. It doesn't really sound like he's putting as much effort as he could into it. After this initial disappointment, the following songs remain roughly as bad, but have more lead and structure, for what it's worth. "Dimebag" is an oddly sterile account of the shooting of Dimebag Darrel, written in an "On my trip to the zoo I saw lions and tigers and elephants and penguins and ducks and monkeys..." style. More goes on in these songs, but they still feel very hollow and unexciting.

From a technical standpoint, the musicians are competent - The drums are fine, and the guitar at least sounds functional, when it's actually doing anything. It has a particularly subdued tone in many places, and as the album progresses, lead guitar blends with it quite nicely, which probably saves the album from utter echoing oblivion. One of the frustrating things is that many of the songs hold little gems of promise. The guitar on "Fate" sounds promising for a little while, before so many of the songs, plummeting like a starling tied to a brick. Badly written and repetitive lyrics are something of a letdown, and is almost completely un-ignorable. The previous albums were tight, vibrant, and to an extent, quite unique, but sadly, this album doesn't follow in any of these respects. If anything, it sounds like a collection of songs which didn't make it onto the other two Blaze Bayley albums. It has it's occasional moments, but all in all, it's disappointingly half-arsed.

 I must admit, I had no idea that Blaze Bayley had a new album just out until today, and I can sadly say that it's a definite decline from the past efforts. Perhaps it's not the nuclear apocalypse that was Illud Divinum Insanus or Lulu, but it's certainly a small tactical warhead aimed at the fanbase.

Oh dear oh dear... 5/10.

Blaze Bayley Official site
Blaze Bayley on Facebook
Blaze Bayley on Metal Archives

Sunday, 11 March 2012

#135 King Diamond - Abigail

Kind Diamond is a good example of a band which is essentially the solo project of an established musician, but has, with time, outgrown the band which the musician initially came from. Mercyful Fate were, without question, a hugely significant outfit, but with the release of albums like "Abigail", King Diamond have certainly gained a great following of their own, and upon listening to the aforementioned album, I seek to find out why this is.

Metal Archives is not gospel truth on all matters, and many people will happily argue that. But when an album has been reviewed by thirteen people, and the average score is still 96%, you can usually tell that an album is going to be a force to be reckoned with. I struggle to pinpoint King Diamond in the grand scheme of things, so describing the sound as traditional metal with a sinister edge is probably the best I can do. I've not listened to anything like enough King Diamond in the past, and I can admit that it took me a long time to work out where the appeal was. I think, perhaps, this was because I was trying to look at it as something other than traditional-metal. The band is more diverse in sound than I expected, and seems to be quite comfortable to innovate. Songs like "A Mansion in Darkness" are a lot bolder and more intense than a lot of the other traditional metal from the time, and the guitar work is very distinct, with the unforgettable intro-riff which is... difficult to describe, but really evokes the horror atmosphere which the band were no doubt aiming for. I'm not sure what clicked to make me suddenly really enjoy the music, but I can safely say that something has, and the songs seem to appear in a new, refreshed light.

As ever, King Diamond's vocals are at a helium-pitch, and drive the songs along magnificently, with rocking, memorable choruses and vocal hooks to challenge any vocalist of the style. The songs are, overall, definitely more catchy than I gave them credit for, and the riffs and vocals definitely contribute to that. The lead guitar is really prominent too, with at least a couple of solos per song, and some marvellous hooks and embellishments added here and there. The production is really tight, just about perfect in every conceivable way, and the tone, which I mention in just about every single bloody review I do, is top notch. I'll also add my usual of saying that the album feels "very complete" - It does - There's no filler, and all of the songs are good enough to be a single from the album. The songs are really diverse - there are speedy songs, attitude driven rocking-out songs, and epic anthems such as "The Family Ghost". The album really does have a little bit of everything - It's practically a well-assembled showcase of what traditional metal can do, and that can only sound tasty as hell.

I can truly comprehend why this is a classic album now, and not only that, I can also see that it's utterly timeless. There's not really much more for me to say, other than, if you've not listened to this album, it'd probably be very good for you to do so.

I'm going to give this 9/10.

King Diamond and Mercyful Fate Official site
King Diamond on Myspace
King Diamond on Facebook
King Diamond on Metal Archives

Thursday, 8 March 2012

#134 Sabaton - Primo Victoria

I've never dedicated much of a partition in my metal-taste to European power-metal. So often, I've tried to listen to some of it, and found it a bit sickly-sweet and flowery. That is, until I realised I was looking in the wrong places. When the memorable tune of "Primo Victoria" per-chance crossed my ears, I decided to reassess. Sabaton, I can safely say, don't sound quite like anything I've listened to before.

The vocals jump right out. Immensely. Unlike the high-pitched vocals I'd typically expect from Euro-power, a gruff, growling melodic vocal style is what I was greeted with, and was the first step towards getting me interested in the band. Another surprise to me was the wholeheartedly epic feel - there's synth throughout the album, but instead of being flowery, it's relatively wholesome, and garnishes the songs atmospheres liberally but not excessively, and while the production may be quite neat, tidy and standard-issue, the music maintains much more individual character than one could expect, a character which, as it happens, fits the lyrical themes of the band rather well. Power-metal about modern warfare, while somewhat inevitable that someone would do it eventually, is certainly scarce compared to the more typical themes in the style, and in my perhaps limited knowledge of it, Sabaton are one of the few bands I can bring to mind. The gruff but epic feel the band manage to produce certainly has a martial, anthemic quality to it which compliments the battlefield well.

There's nothing massively intricate going on - the band have written punchy, conventional songs, but that's all that they need to be. The songs are instantly memorable, and are packed with parts that demand to be sung along to, which is something which has been lacking from my musical curriculum recently. Good riffs and catchy hooks are really what should be at the heart of good power-metal, and Sabaton seem to have truckloads of both. The music has real swing, real balls, and I can't emphasise enough how good it sounds as a consequence. It's music to salute from a tank-turret to, music to storm a machine gun post to - Not music to ride unicorns or feast with the merry-men to, or whatever it is that the vast majority of power-metal seems to be about (of course, I'll end up listening to more, and realising that I'm totally wrong. That's how it works.)

I certainly got more epicness than I ever imagined to bargain for when I listened to this album, and I think there's every possibility that it's turned me towards being much more interested in the entire pantheon of power metal. But to hell with the additional connotations. The album itself it an absolute beast, and feels damn complete and magnificent.

I think this is a 9/10.

Sabaton Official site
Sabaton on Myspace
Sabaton on Facebook
Sabaton on Metal Archives

Saturday, 3 March 2012

#133 Pharaoh - Bury the Light

I've been looking forward to this album for as long as I've known of it's approach and subsequent release. Pharaoh have gone from being a obscure but much loved band, metamorphosing into a sturdy pillar of distinct, still equally loved, inventive power-metal. Bury the Light is the bands fourth full-length, and continues down the bands reliable but ever evolving path. I've always taken the fourth album of a band to be the sign of the band's "maturity", and I greatly hope that this album propels Pharaoh to the recognition they deserve.

Upon listening to a new album, it's always very easy to prematurely conclude that it's the bands "best yet". I wouldn't even be entertaining the notion, however, If I didn't have the hunch that it's quite likely to be true. From what the sound tells me, the band have been slowly becoming more unique and technically adept - a lot of the guitar work in this album, especially, really jumps out as being complex to an extent which cannot be ignored. Both in terms of the riffs, which manage to keep their punchy, memorable style, despite their technical edge, and the solos, which seem to be in abundance throughout the album, and really do what solos and lead-work in general should do; provide an intense, beautiful moment in a song. This album seems to be in a similar vein to it's full-length predecessor; "Be Gone", which took the band in a slightly more progressive direction. This album expands on that progression, but manages not to go overboard, it's got lots of embellishment, but at no point does it sound forced or twiddly. The two dominant styles in the album are still power metal and traditional-metal.

As ever, Tim Aymar's vocals are unique, and while they're not the cleanest or most conventionally virtuosic vocals, they are immensely enjoyable to listen to, and powerful. The vocal approach is consistent, and keeps the gradual changes which have happened to the band's sound over the years tied together by a consistent factor. This album seems a lot more listenable than "Be Gone" which I must confess, I don't listen to as often as I should, and a combination of interlinked things explain this; This album has rougher, but more wholesome production and guitar tone, more than in "Be Gone", where it bordered on overproduced. The songs also seem altogether more memorable, in the sense that, while while the vast majority of Pharaoh songs are good, these ones seem balanced, and really well ordered on the album - they don't run into each other to any degree, and the whole album feels fresh and pure, more so than the formidable efforts the band has unleashed in the past.

I can safely say, as ever, that I'm impressed by Pharaoh. This is the first full length by them which has come out whilst I've had a proper interest in metal ("Be Gone" being unknown to me until long after its release, as I only listened to about three thrash bands at the time). As such, this album has been long awaited by me, and it's certainly been worth the wait. I can say that with confidence. It's fresh, beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.

I think I'm going to give this a 10/10.

Pharaoh Official site (not been updated in quite some time)
Pharaoh on Metal Archives