Company: Cruz del Sur Release: 2008 Genre: Power Reviewer: Vinaya
Constantly croaky vocals begin to grate on the nerves
This is the product of a skilled American unit with a fairly basic but somewhat fresh take on power metal, but man, listening to Be Gone makes me wish frontman Tim Aymar would do just that. Yes, while guitarist Matt Johnson and his bandmates clearly have the rudiments of their craft down solidly, Aymar's constantly croaky vocals begin to grate on the nerves but quick, even as the commendably slicks riffs of tracks like "Dark New Life" and "Red Honor" fly by. Aymar, of course, previously served as vocalist for Control Denied, a side project of the late Chuck Schuldiner which I had quite a bit of respect for, despite not really being a fan of Schuldiner's main band, Death. Lyrically, Pharaoh seem to have something fairly intelligent to say on many of these songs, and again, all is at least competently done, from the production and musicianship to the nifty otherworldly cover art. Really, it's Aymar's vocal style and little else that prevents me from rating this higher. I mean, I've heard worse, and I suppose not every power metal band needs to be fronted by a Michael Kiske wannabe. I just don't like that growly, croaky vocal style, even if it's a tuneful croak surrounded by quality musical elements.
Note: Among those quality musical elements, apparently, are guitar solos performed by Dofka namesake Jim Dofka (on "No Remains") and Riot's smoking, Les Paul-wielding duo of Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz (doing the honors on "Dark New Life").