Pharaoh – Bury the Light (6 March 2012, Cruz del Sur Music)
Good evening, Readers. How’s it going? I’d like to take a quick poll, if you don’t mind. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “power metal”? Is your first impulse to run away screaming? It wouldn’t surprise me much if that were the case, because that would be the reaction of many people — including myself, sometimes.
Why is that? Well, because somewhere along the line power metal got its name blemished pretty badly in the eyes of most listeners. Somehow the genre got associated with bands who, when they heard “Run to the Hills” for the first time, fell in love with the lightning-speed galloping part towards the end, but thought the song would be better if they had cut out all the stuff that builds the tension up to that point, and creates dynamic contrast, and holds the listener’s attention. Bands whose favorite album of all time is Rising Force, but they never realized that their turntable was switched to 78 RPM instead of 33-1/3.
It’s no wonder most people turn their noses up at the thought of this genre, when its most visible representatives are a bunch of over-the-top, ultra-cheeserrific fuckwads whose primary goal seems to be to constantly outdo themselves in terms of speed and wankery, much more than giving any thought to making good quality music.
Of course, this stereotype didn’t just spring into existence overnight; there have been bands that have incorporated cheesy schtick into their repetoires (whether intentionally or not) for decades. It’s almost as if everyone had forgotten it was possible to put together a group of talented musicians and play music that strikes a balance between heavy and powerful but also emotional and melodic; and to tackle lyrical territory that is epic and grand but not corny and overblown. Almost.
A certain group of Philadelphian gentlemen (who, by the way, come from the eastern side of my home state – just a few hundred miles from here) who call themselves Pharaoh haven’t forgotten. And just one listen to their newest album (their fourth full-length, and fifth release overall, dating back nearly ten years) Bury the Light, which is on Cruz del Sur and was released just last week in North America, is all it will take to ensure you don’t forget, either.