|Review: Pharaoh - The Longest Night|
|The Longest Night|
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Year released: 2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: March 8, 2006
Reviewed by: Ivan the Bludgeon
for:The Longest Night
Rated 4.19/5 (83.7%) (27 Votes)
Fresh blood transfusion into the senescent body of traditional metal has helped to reanimate the old dog after all. Sounds feigned? Not in the case of the young Chicago-based four-piece Pharaoh. Either take it with a grain of salt and stop reading it right off the bat or accept on faith what your humble servant is going to submit below. These guys did manage to enkindle a sparkle of interest among metal fans all over the world with their debut After the War and they will safely stir up the flames with The Longest Night, a piece of sheer metal recently hammered out upon the anvil bone of the promising Italian forge Cruz Del Sur. This album took almost 3 long years to see the light, but I guarantee the suspense will be recompensed hundredfold, to say the least.
What are the three most invincible weapons for any band choosing traditional heavy metal as a reference point? One is, no doubt, its singularity, two is strong instrumental rigging and the last but not the least is a powerful vox able to be in command of the entire process. All of the three are available here in full. Sumptuous melodies and exuberant riffery, masterly musicianship from each member combining both technical and song-writing talents and one of the most prominent voices which can be without a twinge of remorse ranked among the elite. Vocalist Tim Aymar, an owner of extraordinary chords (Control Denied, Psycho Scream), doesn't need a special presentation for a seasoned metalhead. For those unaware, take the power of Dio, add some frog-in-the-throat notes typical of Nazareth's Dan McCafferty, jumble them together and you'll get a rough equivalent of the final product. What else does a band need in the arsenal to conquer its Everest!
I remember reading lots of reviews for their debut where all the critics with a single heart dubbed Pharaoh as a band mainly influenced by Maiden. There is undeniably a grain of truth in it, but only due to the numerous guitar harmonies employed by Matt Johnsen, this wizard of the six strings. Matt is a thinking guitarist and knows well that blind imitation alone is not an acceptable way to win the contemporary audience. Thus, he tries to take up his duties really inventively applying in his style tons of peculiar ingrains in the form of diverse riffing, interesting complex soloing and differently tuned plugged guitars. With regard to the rhythm section, the band can boast of the two perfect musicians, Chris Black and Chris Kerns on bass and drums respectively. This couple is a noteworthy example of the case when the bassist and drummer are really full members of the band participating in a song-writing process.
Song-wise, The Longest Night is head and shoulders superior to the band's debut, which, in its turn, possesses a very solid set of songs itself. The composition structure, featuring some of the pieces clocking in at around the eight-minute mark, is placed in a much better light this time as well. Most of the tracks are provided not only with excellent drive and melodies but with resourceful playing endeavors from all involved. So, the opener Sunrise has a very unusual piece of drumming in the middle and heaps of guitar and bass hooks here and there. I Am The Hammer is a fast-paced bit based on absolutely infectious propeller riffing and compact chorus parts. By The Night Sky, a song written by Chris Kerns alone, is dominated by a galloping riff, beautiful solo guitars and the larger-than-life chorus. Fighting slays you right on the spot with its belligerent spirits and terrific melodies penetrating into the innermost of your heart. As hard as I tried to find any defects or rough edges on this record I found none. There are just no weak moments. All of the songs are sheer masterpieces. Yesterday my favorite was In The Violet Fire with its jack-hammer riffing and fantastic guitar fingering I have yet to hear from someone. Today it is Like A Ghost with tons of blazing insets far and wide. Tomorrow it will be the hell knows what else. This entire work will dash your metal stereotypes into shards with its catapults and arrows and this is not a joke.
To summarize, this is an absolute contender number one for year 2006 among heavy metal releases yet to see the light. One thing is as certain as hell. With The Longest Night Pharaoh have already immortalized themselves as the band to reckon with and unless they loosen their iron grip they will be catapulted into the premier league of the genre as soon as the next album. That is just a matter of time.
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