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reviews of Be Gone

Autothrall

Pharaoh is quite likely the best melodic metal band we've got in the States right now. In fact, if I've got any criticism of the band at all, it's that they are TOO melodic. TOO catchy. To the point where it's painful to realize there are musicians this good writing such riffs you'll never have a prayer of beating. It should be a crime! Okay, this is hardly a real criticism...Pharaoh rules, and after two great albums they have produced their third and best yet. While I haven't been a fan of Tim Aymar's vocal work in other bands (sorry Control Denied), he excels here.

Each of the nine tracks on the album is an instant classic, laden heavily with melodic textures and Aymar's resonating yet harsh vocal performance. The songs are distinctly modern and original, yet they also capture the elusive quality which made so many 80s US speed/thrash metal songs so great...surely this band channels the spirit of Fates Warning, Watchtower or Helstar in ways that so few really can. This is also the riffiest metal album heard all year, if it were simply a matter of who has the most good riffs, this would be my #1 choice. Matt Johnsen is writing some of the best melodic material in the world. This album floors pretty much anything out of the 'power metal' scene in Europe, and there are single songs on the album which are arguably better than the entire Dragonforce discography. That a spastic and shallow band like that gains worldwide recognition while Pharaoh lies in relative obscurity is a testament to how the standards of the 'metal' community have been lowered to blindly accept speed, popularity and empty technical prowess over song craft.

"Speak to Me" is the perfect opening track, as the drums and guitars phase in they create a foundation for Aymar's clarion call vocals, which have an edgy tone to them reminiscent of bands like Omen. "Dark New Life" is an immediate anthem which wears its glory on its sleeves before breaking down into some grittier power metal riffing, and it also has an amazing solo section. "No Remains" starts with a winding guitar melody to die for, followed by some of the most excellent charging rhythms on the album, and a monumental chorus. "Red Honor" starts with an even more technical and awesome riff, and then proceeds to get even BETTER with the next riff. "Buried At Sea" is perhaps the most morose track on the album, yet still adorned in the graceful and epic feel of the rest. We're not even close to done here...the leading riff of "Rats and Rope" is fucking stunningly awesome, and the way the vocals and verse guitars interact is gorgeous. "Cover Your Eyes and Pray" is the closest you'll have to a 'ballad' here, and it's not quite a ballad at all, but a slower paced, driving melodic number which once again reminds me of Omen or early Fates Warning. "Telepath" is the most instantly catchy of the tracks, and why shouldn't it be with that insanely catchy, sad and melodic verse. The final track is of course the slowly developing "Be Gone" which is hypnotic and intense with its flowing guitar work.

The lyrical concept to the album is the eventual eradication of humanity through our own stupid actions, but Pharaoh approach this with lyrical skill that amplifies the emotion of the music, such as:

Time running out
The hollow houses blooming
Faith now a falsehood
The only god is sickness
Just one way
To starve alive another day
Dying fed
By harvesting the dead

I can't find a single damned flaw here, the album is spotless. It's the type of classic people will hopefully be pointing to for the 'oughts' of the 21st century when making their future 'best of' lists. I know I will be. Few albums of this sort have come into existence since the Golden Age of 80s metal, and this is by far my favorite melodic/power/speed metal album of anno 2008. You owe it to yourself not to let it pass you by. Pharaoh, against all odds, have achieved perfection. A masterpiece. Get infected. Verdict: Epic Win 10/10 autothrall

Beowulf Productions

modern Thrash Metal feel to them, but they have an old school Power Metal vibe. There is some complex structures with lots of layering & depth. The drum work & guitar work is where most of the Thrash elements are heard. In the vocals lyrical arrangements is where the Power Metal is more dominant. The vocals hit a mid to high ranged Power Metal style. If you were to mix MAIDEN, DRAGONFORCE, DIO, BLIND GAURDIAN & some HELLOWEEN together you'd get a great idea of what these guys are all about! Burt Wolf

Blabbermouth

In an interview I conducted with PHARAOH guitarist Matt Johnsen a couple of months ago, I was discussing the fact that I still preferred 2006's "The Longest Night" to new album "Be Gone", though not by a wide margin. It is one of those instances where the follow-up to an album that you adored (it was a top 10 selection for me that year) is difficult to objectively critique because memories of its predecessor keep interfering. I also told Johnsen that considering the denser, more complex, style of "Be Gone", I would not be surprised if after a few more weeks of absorption that I'd find it superior to "The Longest Night". Sure enough, that is exactly what happened, as I now find "Be Gone" to be a slightly better overall release than "The Longest Night", although it is still a close race.

Where "Be Gone" differs from "The Longest Night" is, for the most part, in the intricacy of the compositions. By that I don't mean that PHARAOH has become CYNIC, only that the arrangements utilize a wide variety of licks and Johnsen's leads are easily his best yet. These are the kind of solos to which you look forward, as opposed to being mere song breaks; it is what bands like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST do so well, incorporating melodies in the solos and harmonies so that they became nearly as memorable as the choruses. This is the aspect of "Be Gone" that continues to grow on you with each listen and becomes the album's "X" factor, right down to the siren-esque, multi-layered effect (which doesn't describe it well enough, but will have to do) on the title track.

The central melodies have a way of getting better and better as well, so much so that several tracks initially seemed on par with the catchiest material from "The Longest Night", then ultimately surpass it. The two shining examples are "Red Honor" and "Buried at Sea", both heavy metal anthems of the highest order. The latter features a vaguely Celtic folk feel; you'll want to raise your fist and sing along every time you hear it. "Dark New Life" (featuring guest solos from RIOT's Mark Reale and Mark Flyntz) is right there too, as are "Cover Your Eyes and Pray" and "No Remains" (with returning guest guitarist Jim Dofka). Invariably, when I hear this album the following thought keeps slamming against the sides of my skull: "Goddamn, these guys are great songwriters!" The nine-track collection is near perfection; it's as simple as that.

Vocalist Tim Aymar puts in his best performance, stretching his gritty, yet soulful, pipes in a way that offers more variety, yet is never overdone. Even the most carefully written vocal can fall flat without a singer that's got the horsepower; not a problem with Aymar.

As for the IRON MAIDEN tag that has gone from an appropriate comparison point to a haunting and over-used pain in the ass for the band, some of those elements are still present. But all that really means is that PHARAOH composes its songs as masterfully as MAIDEN does (yeah, no shit). Make no mistake, on "Be Gone" PHARAOH has positioned itself as a classy and traditional heavy metal band that can proudly stand on its own. Facing facts, PHARAOH is without question one of the best heavy metal bands on earth and "Be Gone" stands tall as the act's best work yet and is a good bet to catapult toward the top of many a critic's year-end list. So far, it is my album of the year. 9.5/10 Scott Alisoglu

Blistering

American power metal group Pharaoh formed in 1997, but did not issue a release until 2003, six years after their formation. That year they released After the Fire. The Longest Night found daylight in 2006. Both recordings came by way of Cruz Del Sur, as does their forthcoming album Be Gone. Although Pharaoh never made a recorded appearance until 2003, vocalist Tim Aymar made a name for his self as front man of Chuck Schuldiner's power metal band, Control Denied.

Aymar was fortunate enough to play with the immortal Chuck Schuldiner (Death). The Fragile Art of Existence became Schuldiner's final recording before succumbing to a tumor. The vocal style in Control Denied was much angrier, with higher-pitch screams than Pharaoh. On Be Gone, Aymar assumes a gentler, smooth tone angle, yet he maintains a good deal of energy, pushing his range when needed. In fact, he has a vocal command like that of Bruce Dickinson, as does the band's music in general.

Be Gone relates much to Iron Maiden. Matt Johnsen's guitar style shows the same type of patented string work of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray, especially the harmonies. Johnsen's licks keep the music flowing, switching between bouncy, bumble bee rhythms and rhino-powered chugging. Pyscho Scream guitarist Jim Dofka also provides some solo work on "No Remains." Drummer Chris Black has a knack for performing Nicko McBrain-like exciting fills, while bassist Chris Kern meshes his bass playing tightly with Black's lively drum work. Black's stop-and-start movements draw a clear outline of Kern's bass on "Dark New Life," as do the swift stops on "Telepath." The orchestrated instrument pounding during the chorus line of "Buried at Sea" is a grandiose, over-the-top hook. This is heavy metal at its best, folks!

Pharaoh sounds a lot like Iron Maiden and their love of Maiden is obvious in their music. They even appear on a few Iron Maiden tributes and while many modern bands tip their hat to Maiden, none pull it off like Pharaoh.

Pharaoh has only released a couple albums on a label that doesn't garner the attention of the Metal Blades or Nuclear Blasts, so they haven't received the attention they deserve, which is a shame because Pharaoh is without a doubt at the top of the power metal pyramid. Darren Cowan

Deadtide.com

It's a little ironic that Cruz Del Sur, an Italian record label, would have such a significant role in reviving America's traditional metal scene. Under their hand, artists Hammers of Misfortune, Slough Feg, Crescent Shield, and others have received international distribution and acclaim from critics and fans alike. To this reviewer, however, the label's greatest feat has nothing to do with the West Coast and everything to do with a modest quartet headquartered in Pennsylvania. Pharaoh. With smooth melodies of the European school and a hard rocking edge that is thoroughly American, Pharaoh boast an attractive combination of styles that has elicited favorable comparisons to Iron Maiden throughout their career, from Tim Aymar's spirited vocals to Matt Johnsen's infectious leads and the impeccable rhythmic foundation of Chris's Kerns (bass) and Black (drums). All four members write songs and lyrics, independently or in various combinations, which gives Pharaoh a multi-faceted nature that is uncommon for a group in the genre.

Of the four, Aymar is the most well known, having sung on Chuck Schuldiner's stunning swansong, 'The Fragile Art of Existence'. Aymar's performance on that album was the ideal fit and even comparable to Chucks' own vocal (and guitar) style in Death's latter years, making use of arresting timbres, phrasing both entrancing and unconventional, and a raw, emotional intimacy that few could match and none could imitate. With Pharaoh, Aymar has scaled back some on the immediacy of his pathos but continues to perform with equal mastery. Indeed, his leather-lunged howl has arguably even improved since the Control Denied days, as Pharaoh's most recent album, 'Be Gone', will attest.

Some have asserted that 'Be Gone' is a more 'compact' or even 'streamlined' version of Pharaoh, condensing the more expansive style of their early days into a modernized package. This is not entirely accurate. While no tracks here exceed the eight-minute mark ('The Longest Night' had two) and only one breaks seven, 'Be Gone' features Pharaoh's most dynamic and varied songwriting to date. Alongside the traditional galloping pace and Maiden-inspired harmonies, 'Be Gone' explores greater textural depth, more diverse riffing techniques, subtly progressive rhythmic arrangements, and a darker overarching atmosphere than either previous album. Pharaoh's lyrics have changed, too. Always intriguing, either for their camp ('Fighting') or profundity ('After the Fire'), 'Be Gone' now focuses these energies towards the more serious theme of human extinction through a series of small vignettes. Though some are relatively light of heart, such as the plague-induced cannibalism in 'No Remains', the tone of tracks like 'Buried at Sea' is undeniably somber.

These changes make 'Be Gone' the most consistent, professional, and mature of Pharaoh's efforts. 'The Longest Night' may still contain more sing-along choruses and 'After the Fire's title track is arguably still the band's best song, but this new effort is undoubtedly greater in breadth, technical proficiency, and originality.

Evidence of Pharaoh's maturation is evident in every aspect of 'Be Gone', with the two slowest songs, 'Buried at Sea' and the title track, being the most obvious. The closer 'Be Gone' is easy to overlook, but its contemplative poise is new to the band's repertoire and indicative of their growth. Other examples are more understated, occurring only once or before a driving, resurgent chorus, and may be quickly forgotten as the album continues. They are, however, are the most critical contributor to the album's enthralling atmosphere. The melodic hint of a coda for 'Cover Your Eyes And Pray', the acoustic preamble to 'Buried at Sea' with Aymar's fragile line'these transient moments leave an unconscious impression that tinges even the album's most ripping anthems with an inexpressible melancholy.

When combined with irresistible rock enthusiasm, this spirit bring Pharaoh out of Maiden's shadow and allow the band to stand entirely on its own, independent of all 'featuring ex-members of' plugs. If Pharaoh can continue to release albums on par with 'Be Gone', then perhaps they will be the ones to serve as a touchstone for the generations that follow. Rahm

Exclaim.ca

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.Sean Palmerston

GraveMusic.com

Few years back Pharaoh released The Longest Night, a highly regarded album in the power metal field. Mixing powerful guitar playing, epic songwriting and the supremely underrated vocal talents of Tim Aymar, the album was a breath of very fresh air in a genre that was well past choking on an overflow of me-too worthless bands. The follow up had a lot to live up to, nevermind deliver anything in the league of By The Night Sky, the sort of epic power metal song that'll make you get on a steed and gallop into a forest to battle ogres.

Be Gone does this, and so much more.

The first thing of note is that this isn't actually a power metal album, not in the way that The Longest Night was. Instead, Pharaoh has delivered a perfect heavy metal album. Pharaoh has taken a much more intricate approach this time, much in the same way that early Dio, Fates Warning and Queensryche did. The songs are deceptively simpler in comparison to the grandiose nature of The Longest Night, but there's brilliant subtlety that becomes more and more apparent on each successive listen.

The album starts off with the magnetic Speak To Me. Tim Aymar, who most people know from Chuck Schuldiner's Control Denied project, excels right off the bat with his impressive vocals that weaves through the harmonies in a way that reminds me of Ronnie James Dio. I remember reading one interview with Chuck Schuldiner where he said that Tim Aymar was his favorite vocalist. Be Gone makes me finally understand why. Dark New Life is another hefty slab of metal, containing an amazing guest solo by arguably the most underrated guitar legend ever in Mark Reale from Riot. Next up is my personal favorite on the album, No Remains. Its a fist pumping energetic metal anthem that may or may not be about a zombie apocalypse. I'm still waiting on confirmation about that.

Red Honor continues this joyous metal experience. It has the sort of sing-along chorus that should be a hit live. Much of the praise for Pharaoh can be given to Matt Johnsen, who stitches together a series of riffs and chords throughout and somehow makes everything fit perfectly. Buried At Sea is the album's big epic. While its not in the same league as the previously mentioned By The Night Sky off the last album, it does seem to come from the same mindset that resulted in Steve Harris writing Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. That's high praise from a huge Maiden fan that isn't tossed around lightly.

The band counters the epic feel of Buried At Sea see with the ripping Rats And Rope. Its incredibly memorable with its use of harmonies, especially with the chorus and the guitar solo. Cover Your Eyes And Pray reminds me of Metal Church for some reason I can't quite place. Maybe I'm subconsciously bring up comparisons to Let The Children Pray, though early Metal Church is another band I see as a primary influence. The song itself is more subdued than the rest, though never losing any power. In contrast, Telepath is probably the heaviest song on the album. I particularly like how the production moves the bass up in the mix at the beginning, reminiscent of Steve Harris's trademark gallop. The album closes out with the title track, which has a somberness that never feels gimmicky or artificial.

Front to back, Be Gone is an album that has future classic written all over it. Every note, riff, chord, lyric and beat is written with passion that reaches right through the speakers. The Longest Night may be the album you reach for when you want to headbang, but Be Gone is the album that you reach for when you wanna get lost in its sonic tapestry. Quite simply, I don't know what more a metal fan can ask for. 10/10 Liu

Harm Magazine

When one happens to think of US power metal bands, there's usually not a very long list of great ones that come to mind. While Be Gone is my introduction to Pharaoh, Be Gone is their third release, and I'm inclined to add them to that short list of solid US power metal bands.

If you listen to a good deal of power metal, I'm sure that Pharaoh might not come across as that much different than the plethora of bands in the genre today. However, there are a number of things that drew me to this album. First off, former Control Denied vocalist Tim Aymar has a commanding presence. He thankfully shys away from using the super high register and comes across a bit like Matt Barlow (Iced Earth), giving the band a slight edge already. The lyrics also steer away from the fantastic and goofy feeling many power metal bands go for, focusing on more mature and serious topics. Lastly, the melodic riffing and ear-candy solos! While there's a definite Maiden-esque feel here, there's an equal amount of American rock and crunch, giving the band more of their own sound. The combination of the lower register vocals and aggressive riffing also provides a darker feel than many bands of the style.

While some may claim 'been there, done that' with most power metal bands, I'd urge you to reconsider for Pharaoh's sake. Easily one of most pleasing traditional/power metal discs I've heard recently.Wayfaerer

Heavy Metal Addiction

U.S. Traditional Metal masters Pharaoh caught my ear back in 2006 with their second album, THE LONGEST NIGHT. What I discovered two years ago was that pure Traditional/Power Metal in the same vein as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden was being forged by this Philadelphia band. I was under the impression that Pharaoh was a European band because of their Italian label, Cruz Del Sur, and the ease in which they play this brand of Heavy Metal. With the Power Metal surge coming from overseas, I was more than surprised that Pharaoh was from the U.S. BE GONE is the band's third record and could be their ticket to Metal's upper echelon.

'Speak To Me' opens the album with a distinct Iron Maiden style riff  moving into Primal Fear territory as the song progresses. Right away you notice Matt Johnsen's masterful guitarwork that sounds like a twin axe attack and Tim Aymar's (ex-Control Denied) attacking throat. The pulsating riffs of 'Dark New Life' recall Maiden again but there is a more sinsiter feel to the music kind of like another Maiden band disciple, Iced Earth. The solos feature a couple of guests from another U.S. Traditional/Power Metal band, Riot's Marke Reale & Mike Flyntz. 'No Remains' is a galloping metal feast with superb drumming from Chris Black and a Aymar vocal that evokes power and emotion. Johnsen's layered guitar carves it's way through the song using different tones.

'Red Honor' continues the assault of hard and fast Metal, almost like old school Thrash. The song is marked by some incredible axe-slinging by Matt Johnsen, especially come the solo, and the distinct pain riddled shriek of Aymar. Things slow down a bit with the beginning of 'Buried At Sea' but the power and speed is still there, just a little more controlled and melodic. 'Buried At Sea' reminds me a little of Manowar but without the high pitch vocals. Things speed up again with 'Rats And Rope' with it's Euro Metal main riff recalling Dragonforce, this is the fastest burner on the record.

The acoustic intro to 'Cover Your Eyes And Pray' hides a heavy mid-tempo groove with solid riffs and a consistent double bass pounding from the kit. The pace is considerably slower from the breakneck pace of 'Rats And Rope' but the song owes it's deceiving speed to Johnsen's fluid delivery and Black's pounding drums. There's some room to breathe here, room enough for the band to stretch a little. 'Telepath' covers more of speed riffery of the previous songs while the title track ends the album with a bit of Progressive flair.

Bottom Line:
Traditional Metal is alive and well in the U.S. and one of the bands forging ahead in this overlooked genre is Pharaoh. BE GONE is full of high powered riffs and precision drumming layered within a pumping bass and a vocal full of power and despair. The solos are fantastic and the production flawless. So what is the downside? Not much really, the only problem is that the band continually rams the songs down and doesn't take time to explore different styles and paces. After the first four songs, you get the idea, but when the band does stretch out, it adds more variety to the album. For fans of Power and Progressive Metal. Favorite songs here: 'Buried At Sea', 'Dark New Life', 'Speak To Me', 'Cover Your Eyes And Pray'.Steven Angulo

Heavy Metal Time Machine

Seeing the Cruz Del Sur label on a label normally means the band is going to have some strong 80's-early 90's metal influences behind their music. Pharaoh are no exception as they play a style that is largely power metal, but also includes some progressive metal traits stirred in the collective pot as well. I hear some Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Crimson Glory and even some early Dream Theater on this release. Pharaoh lean towards a heavier, guitar pumping variety of power metal and that gives them a slightly more fierce approach than many power metal bands who believe the genre needs lot of flourish and pageantry. Another big plus is they cut straight to where they need to go and just tear into the meat of their material with little ceremony. That certainly appeal to me with this type of style because my eyes glaze over and my mind wonders when I sit through too many power bands who drone on with too much nonsense before getting at their real material. These guys also blend in some progressive metal elements to a lesser extent and they work because it's a smooth mix and the styles actually compliment one another. The two problems I have with this release are the vocals and a slight lack of originality. The vocals are perhaps deeper and less melodic than some singers in this musical genre and that could work except that here it's just a little too flat at times to really completely keep up with the music. Being even a little original in power metal seems to be a difficult task as so much seems to have been done already. As I said there are times where their aggressive take helps, but they do tend to hit so much on established sounds that it may be hard for them to get much of a following outside of just power metal fans. Still a decent outing that was overall steady and not one clunker on the entire CD.Metal Mark

Last Rites

To say I've been a wee-bit anxious for the release of Be Gone would be equivalent to saying Richard Simmons is a wee-bit fruity; it's an understatement of magnificent proportions. Honestly, this album ranks at the top of my list of most anticipated releases for 2008. Yep, I'm a Pharaoh zealot, and I wear that badge very proudly. As far as I'm concerned, along with a small handful of others, these dudes stand as our country's most ostensible champions valiantly waving the flag of tried-and-true traditional heavy metal, directly alongside conquerors such as Slough Feg and Manilla Road.

My first exposure to Pharaoh was actually 2006's uber-exalted The Longest Night -- an album I consider to be a shorthair away from unmitigated perfection. That being said, nothing would bring me greater pleasure today than to tell you kind folks that Be Gone topples that which the band delivered two years ago, but I'm afraid I just can't do that. As much as I've been enjoying this record over the past couple weeks, I'll be the first to admit it's rather different than The Longest Night, and not quite as impervious. BUT (and this is a but big enough to fill a bus driver's seat, folks), TLN was so ridiculously captivating, so unbelievably STRIKING, it very promptly rooted itself deep within my core of essentials, much the way Powerslave and Awaken the Guardian did for me back in the mid 80's. So, how does a band go about the daunting task of following up a bona fide classic? Well, I'd imagine you wipe the slate clean, go back to square one, let the mojo flow, and hope the results are well received. And in the case of Be Gone, I'd confidently say Pharaoh can cast any worries aside; this is an excellent album in its own right.

First and foremost, fans are gonna hear something quite a bit different this time around. There's a shift on Be Gone that leads the band further away from the cozy confines of Maidenville and closer to a land best described as...Pharaohio? (Somewhere between Randy Rhoad Island and Moshington). It's nothing to get too worked up over, however. Your brow will crook initially during the fairly sufficient moments when the band employs a more modern approach to the riffing: the foreign way the record (and "Speak to Me") begins, the main riff in "Dark New Life" and the fairly choppy attack at the heart of "Telepath", for example. Be Gone is also a smidge more straightforward as compared to the bands previous two releases. But the strangest thing afoot, and the sole element that still leaves me scratching my head, is the considerably odd way the record ends. The self-titled closing track has a very peculiar repeating keyboard bloop and a fairly progressive "stoppy-start" midsection that stands out like Steven Segal at your grandmother's book club meeting. (editing note: M.Johnsen has informed us through the lashes below that the curious "blooping" I've referenced above is actually a guitar creation. Pharaoh remains keyboardless.)

And the rest, you're wondering? Ahhhh, yes, the old Pharaoh lurks these halls as well, friends, so fret not. All the players are of course in peak musical condition, and the silvery guitars, warm textures and impassioned vocals are understandably spotlighted once again. Matt Johnsen must really suck at Guitar Hero, because in the real world, and particularly on this record, he proves himself a sheer melodic guitar marvel. Each song on Be Gone flashes multiple moments of some of the most nimble soloing I've heard in quite some time. And by hell, if I were amongst a troop of war-ready metalheads, I'd need little more than Tim Aymar's raucous, embattling vocal delivery to howl me into avid combat-frenzy.

Most importantly, there's enough exaltatious Pharaoh catchiness on Be Gone to stick each and every one of these tunes in your head for days. But the true gems of this endeavor -- the ones most likely to set adamantium roots and become an essential part of your day -- are surely "No Remains", "Red Honor" (this album's "By The Night Sky"), "Rats and Rope" (one of the most scorching cuts the band's ever written) and the emotive "Cover Your Eyes and Pray": all tunes destined for some sort of "Best of" comp. in the distant future.

It is my sincere hope that Pharaoh eventually become a paradigm by which future bands are measured. And with three quality releases now under their belt, they're well on their way to doing just that. Fans who have this record on pre-order can rest easy; your money is definitely well spent. Just give the new elements a little time to settle in, and I'm quite sure you'll be very pleased with the results. Be Gone is a great follow-up to the stellar Longest Night, and it certainly paints a very bright future for this exemplary band. Great stuff. 8.3Michael Wuensch

Metal CD Ratings

Pharaoh's 3rd CD is a lot like their first 2, so if you want the "Cliff's Notes" version of this review, it's simple. If you liked Pharaoh before you will continue to like them now, so buy the CD. One of Pharaoh's more endearing traits is the fact they heavily layer their U.S. power metal songs with lots of wonderful guitar harmonies. This is once more in abundance with 'Be gone', which probably has their strongest guitar work yet. Tim Aymar is still providing vocals for better or worse, so the overall sound is pretty familiar with what we're used to from the band. I seem to hear less and less of the European power metal influence with each CD, but I'd say that traces of its influence are still there.

Going into more detail, Aymar sounds about the same as always here. He comes off as a gruff cross between Dio and the Apocrypha singer, Steve Plocia. Most of the time I find his vocals very engaging, but sometimes the line between singing and screaming gets a little blurry, so be warned if your sensitive to that sort of thing. The guitar work is just fantastic here. I have long been a total sucker for harmony guitar leads and this CD once again just brims with them. They are very similar stylistically to the classic Maiden harmony lead work, without sounding like or imitating any particular melodies. The guitar work is just classy all around and continues to be my favorite aspect of Pharaoh.

But the songs aren't slouches either. Opener "Speak to me" has a majestic harmonized opening before settling into the main song. Aymar does plenty of harmonizing with his vocals in this and all songs as well which adds to my enjoyment of him. "Dark new life" is a killer song that contains a strong chorus and a driving main riff. "Buried at sea" is the CD's epic track. Restrained at a little over 7 minutes, it has a really memorable chorus. "Rats and rope" immediately follows with a blast of speed right at the opening moment. "Telepath" is another personal favorite particularly because I love the harmony guitar at the song's opening. The title track concludes the CD and I like its brooding tone.

Once more, the production is crystal clear and basic without a lot of added effects or enhancements to the instruments. Once again the overall package is very good, and I would think nearly every reader of this site should enjoy it. If you haven't yet heard Pharaoh, this is a great CD to buy to check them out. 3.5/5John

Metalrage

Beer belly, older, shabby clothes… at first sight, Pharaoh doesn't give the impression to be much of a wild metal band. They look more like your local football / poker / drinking buddies. They might also be that for as far as I know, but my first-hand thoughts about them were dead wrong. That much became clear to me when I put on their latest effort, Be Gone.

'Speak To Me' is a somewhat modest opener, but as soon as the second song kicks in, you're already pumping with anxiety to see a live show by this band. It's hard to believe that the band photograph I just saw features the musicians on this album. The vocals are raw, yet highly melodic, with maybe a hint of Manowar and the guitars are so - damn - tight. Battering drums keep the impressively written songs in line and the rhythm guitars feature fast strummed riffs with progressive fills. Choruses are memorable, yet 'true' (if I may use that term). Take 'Rats And Rope' for example. The track incorporates features of old school speed metal and the accessible melodies of a Maiden song. But the raw, sturdy vocals prevent the style of being referred to as poppy, which, all in all, makes for a terrific combination of first-class metal.

It's hard to find any points of criticism on Be Gone. It really is an outstanding effort. The one thing that might be the source of a little irritation after a while, are the reoccurring guitar leads that accompany the vocals. There's always so much to hear, it can be tiring to always have to focus on every single detail. Other than that, the raw power and primal energy of Pharaoh just keep on rocking. Could this really be an album being referred to as a 'classic' in the future? I sure as hell wouldn't be surprised; this stuff is for real. Beer belly, go! 87% Bastian Blackrain

Metal to Infinity Belgium

The most powerful individual in the ancient history of Egypt was the Pharaoh, actually a political / religious leader for its own people. As strong and mighty as the real Pharaoh was, we left history for what it's worth - let's focus ourselves to an American band that listened to the same name. Out of the ashes of Final Prayer and Dawnbringer arose Pharaoh back in 1997. The beginning of existence cannot be described as 'satisfied'. I heard the band had to deal with some problems with Icarus Records, the label they were involved with but that point, we will discuss during an email interview soon to be released on Metal To Infinity. The main and most important fact is that Pharaoh teamed up with Italian Cruz Del Sur Music, actually the house where US Metal lives and reigns!

First Pharaoh album through this label came appeared in 2003 and was entitled 'After The Fire'. Ask me about the result and I'll will tell with much of conviction...this effort really took me by the throat. Name of the game - US Power / Traditional Heavy Metal full of melody...my favourite style of music forevermore, a true killer album it was! I first met the band Pharaoh on an American Tribute To Maiden album a few years ago, 'Aces High' and one original song let me enjoy with full strength - from that moment on, Pharaoh was a US Metal outfit that could charm me entirely.

Well, debuted on CDS Music in 2003 - experts in US Metal knew that Pharaoh should be back for more and of course, 3 years later the album 'The Longest Night' came out in full glory! The story of one of latest years US Metal revelations continued in style. For the second time, Pharaoh delivered high recommended, full skilled and powerful Metal music the way it should be. Loads of melodic parts, awesome vocals, leads that could kill,...to keep it short, a fantastic album all the way! If I was looking for a third strike? Be sure I was!

These Americans are back with a brand new output, entitled 'Be Gone' released through Cruz Del Sur Music, the label where they feel himself apparently very well. With two brilliant album under their belt, it isn't that simple to do better you know. Not that this new album is less good than their predecessors. 'Be Gone' is globally seen just as worthy as their other releases. I was a fan since their early days of existence and that have not changed certainty and permanently. Pharaoh still means a lot to me, awesome US Metal - right!

Nine songs on the album, all addicts hooked on bands like Aska, Onward, Wind Wraith, Wretch, Jag Panzer, Dofka, Metal Law or Miles Beyond will adore this effort without a doubt. Tim Aymar's voice makes me dreaming...he's a well skilled 'Metal' singer who's using its throat with a 'harsh' grain - charismatic all over, I love it. Matt Johnsen is the one who treats his guitar pure professional minded. Damn, this guys delivers fantastic guitar works...technical and melodic to the bone, both riffing and solo's are in for the kill so you're warned. He got company from two guest guitarists, actually 'real pro's in shredding' named Jim Dofka (from the band Dofka) and Mark Reale / Mike Flynts from Riot! Their contributing flammable 'axe attack' on 'No Remains' and 'Dark New Life' to sound irresistible. Other tracks that leaves me speechlessly behind are: 'Speak To Me', 'Red Honor', 'Rats And Rope', Telepath (to name but a few).

Yes, 'Be Gone' has a huge impact on my inner soul. US Metal is lifeblood to me, Pharaoh makes it run through my veins like drinkable wine. Complete appreciation applies, a brilliant album you can't leave behind. Pick it up and experience how extremely outstanding and beautiful US Traditional / Heavy Metal can be. Bring on some more in the future guys, you're welcome!! 94/100

Metal Temple

This can as well be the finest of the latest Cruz Del Sur spring 2008 releases. American traditional Heavy Metal warriors PHARAOH have - I think - surpassed their previous effort The Longest Night's quality, by delivering a fine blend of pure heavymetallic storm by the name of Be Gone. If you cry out you do not listen to neat Metal nowadays, you have no excuse towards this CD. Act fast and preserve your 80s metal-inspired ideals; you've been warned.

I first came across the PHARAOH moniker due to singer Tim Aymar's singing in late Chuck Schuldiner's CONTROL DENIED one-and-only release, The Fragile Art Of Existence. His name was carved in my mind since his dynamic vocals - with the clear flexibility to 'jump' between passion and outrage in the same verse - marked that fine release. Then, onwards came the release of PHARAOH's debut CD, After The Fire, in 2003 utilizing a dream-come-true to re-shape the IRON MAIDEN ideals into some kinda unique American formula. I can recall feeling let-down with many people saying PHARAOH was a MAIDEN clone and nothing more. Thankfully, 2006's The Longest Night was punctual enough to prove it all wrong. Twin guitar leads does not make it 'only MAIDEN'.

Now a step down in comparison to this year's Be Gone, the follow-up did bear an upgrade in consistency in songwriting and professionalism in instrumentation. Hence, PHARAOH climbed up many steps in the climax of American Metal, both keen on the HELSTAR, RIOT, TENSION and OLIVER MAGNUM guidelines and - now - ready to fully personalize their sound/style with methods adequate for Heavy/Epic contemporaries like STEEL PROPHET or DESTINY'S END. The British standards where still there; and that's for their honor to be mentioned.

The quartet of Aymar, Johnsen, Kerns, Black now proceeds to the latest lesson of how to play classic American Metal without sounding outdated. They have now enriched their songwriting with some Teutonic elements (multi-vocal choruses, speedy twin leads etc) in some songs - many will even bring DEMONS & WIZARDS to mind in e.g. Rats And Rope - while the rest remains (better than) the same. Be Gone features songs that show no rush to be credited as 'true', 'epic' and I don't know what else. They are not plain riffs stuck together, the lyrics do not in-your-face declare their loyalty to the Metal morals. Instead, the sound and profound power will make you sink your teeth into this. Aymar sings like there's no tomorrow, he's a warrior and he's a narrator whenever he wants so. His voice is distinct; he sings '80s' but also bears the persona of a man familiar with some extreme Metal stuff. At the same time, he 'goes' J.D. Kimball or Matt Barlow or - even - Graham Bonnet (e.g. in Cover Your Eyes And Pray). Really wonder how the hell this man's not yet picked by a 'mainstream' Metal act.

What about the rest of the lineup? OK, Matt Johnsen's total maestro. He surely put tons of work for ending up with such a spirit in both rhythm and lead guitar parts. Bearing in mind this should be the most complex PHARAOH release of all three, just guess what's the six-string base. His British (MAIDEN, SAXON, RAINBOW, THIN LIZZY) well of inspiration ties perfectly with his 80s American Metal culture (call me early FATES WARNING & JAG PANZER, for example) and that's an ultra benefit for the band. There's riffing everywhere, there's licks and tricks, the leads creations are excellent and - overall - the result is equally 'retro' and fresh. We rarely do witness this 'equilibrium' style nowadays. Last but not least, the Black/Kerns due stands tall in providing the most fitting backup for these songs' majesty to be unveiled. Fat and captivating, steel yet breezing, I'd not be so happy with something else.

Anything goes out for the songs: for example, Dark New Life is an up tempo GB-meets-US Metal killer with great leads (featuring guest solos from RIOT's Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz) and some roaring bass, while Red Honor will bring the legendary guidelines of OMEN to mind and Telelpath shall bombard your already weakened ears with much of metallic choir madness and MAIDEN-isque relentlessness. Listening to the whole album again and again, I can outline no filler while the orgasm of creativity stands as the flag of significance for the quartet's compositions. Really, how long will it take to get tired of such a CD? Traditional Metal music seems to be - selling-wise - a minority in our era and I really wish PHARAOH and Be Gone will prove to be a lethal weapon in defend of those steel seeking for ample and non-naive voice/guitars/bass/drums metallic freedom. 8/10 Grigoris Chronis

Rock Report

This Philadelphia based band are quite a strange lot.They started out in 1997 and released their debut 'After The Fire' in 2003. It took them 3 years to write the follow-up 'The Longest Night', another two years to deliver album number 3 'Be Gone' and yet they are still going strong.

Well at least in the studio that is, as these boys have only seldom rehearsed all together or, God forbid, toured to back-up their releases. Until recently they had never played a gig! Their first ever concert as Pharaoh was on April 5th as part of the bill of Germany's Keep It True festival. I hope all went well as these guys deserve to break out of their cult status. They have released 2 metal albums of consequent high standard and this 'Be Gone' is no exception to their own rule.

The playing of the band around Tim Aymar (ex-Control Denied) is intense, rich, slightly progressive & displays diverse influences. To name a few: Iron Maiden, Helloween, Blind Guardian & even some Satan, for those that still know this cult band.

These guys also keep the emphasis on the songwriting, the arrangements & the melody while most of their colleagues like to show off with double bass drumming & high speed fret board antics. And that makes them sort of stand out in the power metal scene.

Well done, boys and I hope the stage experience was a good one so we may see this band in our neighborhood soon. 5.5/6 KVK

Rough Edge

Seeing the Cruz Del Sur label normally means that the featured band is going to have some strong 80s/early 90s metal influences behind their music. Pharaoh are no exception as they play a style that is largely power metal, but also includes some progressive metal traits stirred in the collective pot as well. I hear some Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Crimson Glory and even some early Dream Theater on this release.

Pharaoh lean toward a heavier, guitar-pumping variety of power metal and that gives them a slightly more fierce approach than many power metal bands who believe the genre needs lots of flourish and pageantry. Another big plus is they cut straight to where they need to go and just tear into the meat of their material with little ceremony. That certainly appeals to me with this type of style because my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders when I sit through too many power bands who drone on with too much nonsense before getting at their real material.

These guys also blend in some progressive metal elements to a lesser extent and it usually works because it's a smooth mix and the styles actually compliment one another.

The two problems I have with this release are the vocals and a slight lack of originality. The vocals are perhaps deeper and less melodic than some singers in this musical genre and that could work except that here it's just a little too flat at times to really completely keep up with the music. Being even a little original in power metal seems to be a difficult task as so much seems to have been done already. As I said there are times where their aggressive take helps, but they do tend to hit so much on established sounds that it may be hard for them to get much of a following outside of just power metal fans.

Still "Be Gone" is a decent outing that is steady overall and does not include one clunker on the entire CD. 2.5/4Metal Mark

Metal Crypt

Pharaoh have been making waves for a long time, ever since their debut After The Fire. Their sophomore effort The Longest Night ended up on a lot of 'Best Of' lists a few years back, and this was one of the albums I was anticipating very highly this year. I expected Be Gone to be a masterpiece, and it is. Building on the foundation of their previous releases, Pharaoh have made an overwhelming album.

It's not often that you spin an album, then read the pants-wetting promo copy and find yourself nodding along, saying 'yes, yes, that's absolutely right.' One word Cruz Del Sur used, which I agree with completely, is erudite. Pharaoh know their tradition, and they draw deeply and expertly upon the built-up vocabulary of Heavy Metal to create a sound even more individually their own. Matt Johnsen's guitar work is nothing short of jaw-dropping: heavy, sharp, insightful and surprising. From the very first riff of "Speak To Me" the music captivates, made even greater by the tight rhythmic syncopation and Tim Aymar's hungry, powerful vocals. This is far less accessible and catchy than The Longest Night, instead presenting us with intricate melodic constructions like "Dark New Life", "Red Honor", "Telepath", and the showstopping "Buried At Sea". Far from operating in a sterile Prog realm, Pharaoh make every line and note both visceral and immediate. This band is passionate about their music, and you can hear that in every song.

Long after past greats like Queensryche and Fates Warning have faded into worthlessness, Pharaoh prove you don't have to play 50,000 notes or sound like Dream Theater to make intelligent metal. Those devoted to the immediate gratification of bands like HammerFall or Gamma Ray may find this too dense and involved, but those with an appreciation for depth and richness in their music will find this album powerfully rewarding. Highly Recommended. 4.63/5 Sargon the Terrible

Metal Observer

There's much to expect from the third long player by US Metal tyrants PHARAOH. I thought 2006's 'The Longest Night' was one of the finest Power Metal issues of that year and I was in good company as many a Metal scribe agreed placing PHARAOH in the one to look out for folder.

Well two years on and PHARAOH return with a brisk, swash buckling, anthemic Power Metal album that will certainly succeed in cementing them as a major player on the US Power Metal scene.

'Be Gone' lifts off seamlessly from where 'The Longest night' left us. The tempo might overall be slightly less but the propensity for jet fuelled solos and riffs are hardly diminished. This is nothing short of simply excellent Heavy Metal.'

Kicking off with the somewhat Progressive 'Speak To Me', vocalist Tim Aymar opens his wind pipe and bellows out and thus a new legend is born. So many Metal bands have ordinary singers, PHARAOH do not and in Aymar they have a brooding, charismatic and commanding front man who will open more doors than see close. 'Dark New Life' echoes MEGADETH at their feral best, however with Aymar stalking around the comparison is hardly kudos to Mustaine and co. 'Red Honor' is sheer class with main axe slinger Matt Johnsen pulling off riff and solo with deft aplomb. 'Buried At Sea' oozes showmanship and a maturity and is contender for top track on the album. Again Aymar reigns supreme however not to be left standing as all band members chip in culminating in as robust a performance as the band has ever produced.

With PHARAOH already possessing a unique MAIDEN/ PRIEST/ JAG PANZER Metal influenced sound, the commanding yet charismatic pipes of Tim Aymar propels the band into another league. Add in the sterling guitar playing of Johnsen and the rock steady barrage of drummer Chris Black and bassist Chris Kerns and in PHARAOH you have a band waiting in the wings for Metal greatness. 9/10 Chris

Thoughts of Metal

When I first read the press text that came with the promo copy, I thought I was dealing with a band from the 1970s, reading 1979 instead of 1997 as the starting year. A fast search brought me back to reality and confirmed 1997 as the year that the American Heavy/Power Metal band PHARAOH saw the light of day. It seems they did need a lot of time to bring out their debut album, "After The Fire", and that was in 2003. Three years later the follow-up was ready: "The Longest Night". And now, only two years in the making, here's album no. 3, "Be Gone", which came out on the 23rd of April. Hopefully the title isn't a sign of what the band's future beholds.

The reason for the title is this: "The band had already agreed on titling the album "Be Gone" several months before entering the studio, because a singular theme emerged early in the songwriting process. Songs such as the radiant "Speak to Me" and the bottomless epic "Buried at Sea" examine the inherent flaws of mankind, pitted hopelessly against the seemingly omniscient and unwavering power of nature. Similarly, the soaring strains of "Dark New Life" and sinister waves of "Telepath" offer narratives from a world where the human race is blazing paths to literal and emotional extinction. The inevitable disappearance of mankind is the overarching theme embodied in "Be Gone's" musical storytelling."

Hearing the samples on the band's MySpace page and comparing it to the new material, it's clear that PHARAOH hasn't changed its winning formula and thus continues - improved or not, I can't really tell, since I don't own any of the previous releases - the programmed direction.

"Speak To Me" kicks off this third undertaking with guitars and drumming fading in and bursting loose after little less than 10 seconds. The layered and melodic guitarlines are a lust for the ear, backed by the thumping drums. At first I didn't know who was singing, but he sure does a very good job at combining melody and roughness. Tim Aymar... I looked up the name and noticed he was the singer of CONTROL DENIED, the other band of DEATH vocalist/guitarist/mastermind Chuck Schuldiner. I'm not so familiar with that one album CONTROL DENIED made. I heard it once, though, at the birthday party of a friend of mine. And I liked what I heard, but never thought of buying the album. The song slowly advanced and thrives on the melody and harmonies of Matt's guitarwork. The solos too are top notch.

The tempo increases with the galopping "Dark New Life" and Tim sings more out of full chest. The riffing is also fiercer, sharper, while the drums keep the pace high enough. The bridge is one big highlight, mainly because of Tim's layered vocals. Top song, I tells ya! Somehow I had to think a bit of SILVER FIST, the Spanish Heavy/Power Metal band, not just because of the music, but because Tim's voice in a way sounds like that of Silverio, or the other way around. In any case, the musicianship is of pure quality and I can't find anything to diss. Not that that is the point of the review, it just shows - in my opinion - the guys have done a very good job.

And for "No Remains" Chris Black even pumps out some faster playing, while Matt is laying out the basis with fast riffing. Tim is unstoppable and really gives his all. The chorus is slower and sort of more hymnic. During the chorus I have SHATTER MESSIAH popping up, which isn't a problem for me. Both bands fulfill the expectations really well. Tim adds some pin-pointed David DeFeis-ish screams, too.

IRON MAIDEN also comes along, in "Red Honor". PHARAOH just makes the music a tad heavier, rougher. The Rock'n'Roll level is very high here and besides the British Heavy Metallers, I also have to add VIRGIN STEELE as comparison, both musically and vocally. Chris made his drumming a bit more playful by implementing snare rolls - well, more like a couple of fast single strokes - and hi-hat touches.

"Buried At Sea" is next and although it's more epic/hymnic, you really have to listen a few times to hear the beauty of it. The first time I thought it was quite average, but as you let the music grow on you, the song will proove to be one of the better/best tracks on "Be Gone". Change comes halfway, where melody takes over from heaviness and Chriss makes more use of the toms. Few tens of seconds the songs seems to fade out into silence before the final outburst is set. "Buried At Sea"'s power lies in its chorus and that becomes clear once more in the final part of the song.

After this sad side-step, it's time for another injection of full-on Heavy/Power Metal: "Rats And Rope". This is another song filled with awesome, raging guitarwork, thundering drumwork and Tim's powerful throat. On a musical level Matt and co. of course made sure that the raging moments get some time-off to let slower passages come to the front and prepare the listener for another load of what can be found in the first part of the song.

With "Cover Your Eyes And Pray" it's time for the accoustic guitar to have its moments of glory. This instrument starts the song, after which its electric cousin takes over, assisted by the drums. In a midtempo environment, Tim sounds the most powerful, as if he's trying his best while the others just play like it's any other song. The accoustic guitar comes back right before the verses set in again, and also form the tail of the song. The epic chorus shows a calmer, more modest side of Tim, although his typical timbre and rough stamp are still present.

More aggressive riffing, including the bass guitar, is needed keep the flame burning, but the melody seems to be grouped in the chorus of "Telepath". Not that the verses lack this element, not at all, but you clearly hear heavier backing there. After all those years, Tim's voice has probably never been so good. This is David DeFeis (VIRGIN STEELE) meets Eric Adams (MANOWAR). Matt's solowork is the cherry on the cake. Truly a very good guitarist, if I may say so. Towards the end there's an energetic injection to give their all one last time. The real ending consists of noise, like from a TV when there's no channel to be found.

The guitars build up "Be Gone", going from ultra-melodic leads to sharp and heavy riffing. The drums keep the slow pace going, while Matt adds some accents every x counts. This song simply screams "EPIC!". Single bass in the verses, double in the chorus, and all the while the pace remains the same. Around the 3rd minute the bass is the constant instrument, while the drums have their uplifting moments and the guitar keeps on leading. After a good minute everything slows down, gets silent to power up again for the chorus. Here too, the guitar started the song and it also ends the song, without the interference of bass, drums or vocals.

I had to listen to "Be Gone" (the album) a few times to fully get into the songs, because of all the layers, especially the vocals and guitars and that makes the material as interesting as enjoyable. To cut things short: PHARAOH is a band to check out and their latest epos "Be Gone" an album (without even one bad song) every self-respecting Heavy/Power Metalfan cannot afford to miss, as you get quality musicianship, excellent guitarwork, great singing (done with passion), a powerful rhythm section and Pure Metal with capital P! While you're at it, try to obtain the band's previous releases as well.

USA Progressive Music

With 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. 8.5/10 Jacob Brown

Way Too Loud

You'd expect a metal band with a name like Pharaoh to sound Egyptian to some extent. No such luck here, but what you do get with Pharaoh is over-the-top power metal, and since most power metal bands typically get marked on how well the execution is, "Be Gone" gets such high marks for having catchy riffs, hooking runs, and sing-along choruses that pull you right in. The focus that Pharaoh has more than other power metal bands is basically filling every moment that isn't being sung over with harmonized runs or harmonized guitar solos, which fortunately aren't overdone to the point where they sound like progressive masturbation.

As far as bands go with trying to perfect a specific sound (and lets be honest, there's a few bands that have already perfected power metal) Pharaoh, much like many other top-quality power metal bands has stretched the genre to the limit. While I'll gladly give nearly anything a try and let something pretty good slip into my collection, Pharaohs reach doesn't go beyond power metal fans. While the rest of the metal world is out getting Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, 3 Inches Of Blood, Nevermore and Dragonforce, Pharaoh is a top-quality band that at the same time, still garners the dreaded "for fans of" sticker. 4/5

Metal Sound

This is definitely, the most promising albums in 2008. if we talk about power metal with slice of prog and epic elements. Third effort of USA's Pharaoh brings nine tunes filled with hard and virtouse riffs and melodies, arrowed with excellent and manly vocals of Tim Aymar, which colour of voice is similiar to Tim Owens. Surely, if Iced Earth should sounds with Owens, this album is an excellent example. Production is bright and sharp, presenting the band in phenomenal form and putting all technical skills of the member into the right place. Songs it self are very good, there are catch melodies, guitar tones, but also very complex progressive solo parts. Guitars and vocals are in the first plan, but on the other side, rhythm section filling the space with no problems and there's not jot of ignorance to this elements, even if they aren't the main role in Pharaoh music. Cover art is awesome and reminds on some of the Michael Whelan's works from the 80's. Talking about the songs, the most prominent titles are 'No Remains', 'Red Honor', 'Telepath' and title song. Search for this album, you won't be disappointed, if you like this kind of music. 9.5/10 Vladimir Petković