Pharaoh Be Gone

Although they’ve yet to play their first live show, U.S. power metal super-group Pharaoh have amassed a nice little trio of solid albums. Featuring former Control Denied vocalist Tim Aymar, there’s a unique twist to this band: two of their four members are well known contributors to the underground metal media. Guitarist Matt Johnsen and drummer Chris Black have been writing for Metal Maniacs for the better part of the last decade. With Pharaoh, they put their money where their mouths are by creating some of the most engaging, concise U.S. power metal. The band are built around Johnsen’s guitar playing. He is a qualified axe man who layers guitars on each track in much the same way early ’80s classics like Mercyful Fate’s Melissa were massive walls of sound. Like on previous albums, the band have invited some guest guitarists to lay down solos. First Riot’s Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz lay down a nice harmonised twin solo on "Dark New Life,” and Jim Kofka rips things up on "No Remains.” The biggest surprise lies in the songs themselves. For as good as their previous two albums were, it was always easy to compare the quartet to a number of other bands and pick out the Iron Maiden- or Jag Panzer-like tracks. This time around, the band have written an original, unique album that isn’t easily pinpointed. Chalk this up to a band coming into their own. Now, let’s see if we can get them to play some shows. (Cruz Del Sur)