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