without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Take best aspects from the debut, add a production boost and give it more epic flavoring, and you, my fellow metalhead, have The Longest Night. I complained about the lack of real power and progressiveness (if you will) on the last album, but I can happily dispel these concerns as the first track, “Sunrise,” roars through the night. The guitars have way more kick to them, but with the same crunchiness alongside harmonic, blissful Maiden-esque leads. Twin harmonies are utilized much more, which feels pure and satisfying, making this album sound much more fulfilling than the last. Here, you can tell the band poured their heart and soul into what very well is their longest album thus far.
Black is still as bombastic as he was on the last album, but his playing seems much faster this time around. It’s like he’s got a grip on things now (like he isn’t the bitch in the back) – he shows he can keep tabs on the rest of the guys. Thankfully the drums got a boost, too, so they aren’t lower in the mix anymore. If there’s one thing I wish was up, it’s definitely the drum bass. It sounds like he’s hitting pillows, which is no good unless we’re talking about fluffy power metal, and Pharaoh aren’t even close to that.
The riffs themselves I’d like to call back, because the album got even more edgy than before. The tone is crunchier, but I’m hypnotized by how catchy they are as they play like electricity surging through in the sky. The cover art depicts this well enough (as one such interpretation), since it’s like a concert on its own and there’s no way you’re going to sleep until it’s over. All three guitar parts (one strict lead, one accompanying harmony, and the rhythm riff) work together better than before and create a momentous, magical experience that Maiden would look gladly hear.
The first track I heard by the band (and coincidentally the best and longest one on the album) is “By The Night Sky.” Everyone benefits from this song – a win / win situation where life literally feels better while you’re listening to it. The lead is incredibly melodic, epic, and more addictive than most any other USPM you’ll come across. I’m dead serious, hear that enchanting lead and galloping riff, followed by the awe-striking, beautiful clean performance by Aymar.
“Adorned with greatest splendor
The dawning of a time…
Where all men pledge their honor
And some pay with their lives…”
His singing is extremely poignant at this moment, capturing the audience before blasting a clever barrage of charging riffs as the song carries on through the night. The solos here and on the rest album are twice as meaningful compared to the debut, really bringing you on a more personal level with the band without becoming over-the-top or delving into symphonic territory. Bass shines on this album thanks to the production, so it grumbles well during the peaceful moments while slaying elsewhere.
Pharaoh is part of that breed of power metal that to some may sound tame, but they’ve found a sound that does them justice and continues to kick ass while others fall flat on their face. The blend of Aymar’s dry vocal style with prevailing harmonized leads and epic fervor make this one a powerful force to be reckoned with in the scene. If there’s one thing Americans should be proud about, it’s The Longest Night.