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Pharaoh - Be Gone                 8.5/10

By Jacob Brown

Pharaoh - Be GoneWith acts such as BattleroaR, Bible of the Devil, and Slough Feg on their label already, it seems Cruz del Sur Music is right at the forefront of American traditional metal these days.  Which is odd considering the label is anchored in Italy.  Although, now that Pennsylvania's Pharaoh has dropped a second excellent entry in the genre, it seems the label's superiority is a foregone conclusion. 

Pharaoh's third release, Be Gone, not only serves as an excellent follow-up to 2006's The Longest Night, it also establishes the band as one of the best in the traditional metal scene.  Like many of the aforementioned bands, Pharaoh is strongly influenced by classic acts, i.e., Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, etc.  Of those listed, the most notable influences on the band's overall sound are Iron Maiden and Dio.  In fact, it doesn't take long before the Maiden and Dio-isms come pouring out your speakers.  To their credit, though, Pharaoh does a great job of utilizing its influences and a traditional sound to create their own brand of music.

Tim Aymar, from Chuck Schuldiner's Control Denied, delivers a stellar vocal performance, although his vocals are much grittier on Be Gone than on previous releases.  While Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz of Riot lay down some excellent solos on "Dark New Life", the remainder of the axe work falls on the shoulders of Matt Johnsen.  Once again he uses his guitar to infuse a great deal of melody and makes full use of the spotlight with some excellent shredding.  Bassist Chris Kems, who benefits from Johnsen's soaring leads, has plenty of room to display his chops and is all over the place with his galloping lines and subtle, under the surface rumblings.  Chris Black sits behind the kit and provides plenty of aggression with his pummeling kicks and exciting fills.

On Be Gone, the band changes up its sound slightly by incorporating more modern elements than on their previous efforts, particularly in the riffing style.  This is made perfectly clear from the onset.  Opener "Speak to Me" starts off sounding more like something from an early Symphony X release than anything off The Longest Night.  Those of you now panicking over that revelation need not, as the traditional elements are still available in abundance on this release.  The second track, "Dark New Life", bursts out of the gates with its galloping rhythm and lets the listener know that Pharoah haven't strayed far from its traditional roots.  Songs like "Rats and Rope" and "Red Honor" continue this trend and will have traditional fans salivating while also providing what every traditional metal release needs: excellent sing-along moments. 

One of the things that made The Longest Night great for me was the memorable choruses, which also make a triumphant return on this release.  "No Remains" has such a chorus with its winding guitar rhythm and ultra-catchy vocal line that will seep its way into the listener's brain and remain there for days.  The excellent "Buried at Sea" makes great use of dynamics with acoustic passages, slower tempos, and Tim Aymar's cleanest vocals before transitioning into a chugging verse/memorable chorus onslaught.  Finally, listening to "Cover Your Eyes and Pray", which is the most emotional and strongest track on the album, will no doubt find the listener's head banging, fist pumping in the air, and singing along as loud as possible. 

So what's the verdict?

Longing for the glory days of 80s heavy metal?  Looking for a new spin on traditional metal?  Pharaoh delivers on both accounts with their most dynamic and consistent album to date.

Standout Tracks

"No Remains"

"Buried at Sea"

"Cover Your Eyes and Pray"


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