Pennsylvanian power metallers Pharaoh sent shockwaves through the US metal underground to such an extent with their second album, 2006’s The Longest Night, that it looked as if a new giant of that country’s metal pantheon had been born.
For reasons many and varied, and possibly too tedious to go into here, World domination never ensued, and the band became just another footnote in American metal history. Other albums from the band came and went, some more successfully than others, and it’s been a full nine years since the band last graced headbanging eardrums. But listening to tracks on their new long player The Powers That Be – which sees the band continuing their partnership with the ever-dependable Cruz Del Sur Music – especially soon-to-be-classics like When The World Was Mine, it’s easy to see what all the fuss was about back in the day.
At the centre of the madness is the titanic vocal presence of Tim Aymar, who once again confirms his pedigree as one of the finest straight-up metal vocalists the Americas have produced; From the bucolic Slough Feggish Waiting to Drown, through the full on metal glory of Freedom to the more progressive strains of Dying Sun, which remembers Halford and Tate in their pomp, he displays a power and control that is second to none, allied to a pleasingly gritty tone that you just don’t here that often in modern metal. It’s a bravura, scene-stealing performance from front to back, but he’s more than ably supported by the rest of the band, especially versatile guitarist Matt Johnsen who, like Aymar has all the metal bases neatly covered.
Rhythm section Chris Kerns and Chris Black anchor everything with precision, but, like all the best metal, The Powers That Be is really all about the axe and the voice, and Pharaoh bow to no one in either department. A truly thrilling return to the fray.
The Powers That Be releases on June 18th.