Pharaoh - Be Gone
Cruz Del Sur Music
Traditional Heavy Metal
9 songs (47'00")
Release year: 2008
Pharaoh, Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewed by Alex

This band can very well be a subject of many trivia questions. They are American but subscribe to the principles of traditional heavy metal founded in Europe. They have been in existence over 10 years now, but never played live (that is about to change I hear). They are notoriously slow in releasing albums Be Gone being only the third ever output by the band. When they do release them, however, the albums become well received by the underground following. Their first album, 2003 After the Fire, was important enough to give birth to a label which origin does not even lie in America. This, in fact, was Italian Cruz del Sur, which since signed seemingly every worthwhile power and traditional heavy metal act in the US. The answer to all of the above is - you definitely guessed it by now - Pharaoh.

Not that it is any surprise, but with Be Gone Pharaoh stays the course keeping the banner of classic heavy metal firmly unfurled. Those who claimed that all Pharaoh does is paying continuous tribute to Iron Maiden will have less and less ground to stand on. Surely, No Remains, Rats and Rope and Telepath have a trademark gallop, but Pharaoh songwriters are coming up with their own original harmonies, multilayered and complex, squeezed between the stammering riffs (Speak to Me) and blazing solos (Dark New Life). The band has a great knack to make their choruses rousing, leaping at the listener with their memorability and having more hooks than a fisherman’s box. If metal sing along is your bowl of soup, you won’t be asking for a rebate after the refrains of Dark New Life and Cover Your Eyes and Pray.

The main difference I took away comparing the previous album The Longest Night with Be Gone is that the songs on Be Gone became more compact, having less sprawling and taking-their-time-to-get-going feel. The mood is no less epic, but somehow the Pharaoh squad is more focused. The songs tend to take on their own specific character. The caffeine was flowing overboard on the first quartet of tracks, Speak to Me, and even more so Dark New Life, No Remains and Red Honor keeping the pace racing and just below breakneck. Buried at Sea is a well placed slower track with acoustic inserts and rolling drums, Cover Your Eyes and Pray is a steady steamroller which has Doomsword understated songwriting perfected, and the closing title track has the riffing wheel constantly churning similar to Evergrey’s The Corey Curse.

All of Pharaoh’s instrumentalists are in fine form, guitarist Matt Johnsen managing to find the ways to introduce more layers with his guitar tracks. Guest spots are, as the tradition dictates, offered, and capably filled by the elder statesman Jim Dofka (No Remains) and a pair of Riot guitarists contribute to Dark New Life. Vocalist Tim Aymar had his vocals multitracked in a place or two, so his voice now sounds more voluminous. Still not climbing the ladder much, he allows himself a few forays into the Ripper territory with some piercing screams on Red Honor.

I absolutely can point to the reason Pharaoh is successful and why their reputation for a straight-shooting, no frills band keeps growing. I do my own best work when I completely believe in the journey, every step of the way. The guys in Pharaoh write and play exactly what they want to hear. If more bands followed this simple rule, our job as reviewers would have been completely unnecessary, as every album would be worth picking up. Be Gone is certainly one of those albums.

Killing Songs :
Dark New Life, Cover Your Eyes and Pray
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Pharaoh that we have reviewed:
Pharaoh - The Powers That Be reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Pharaoh - Bury the Light reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Pharaoh - The Longest Night reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Pharaoh - After the Fire reviewed by Ben and quoted 80 / 100
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