Pharaoh, "After the Fire"
Power metal and traditional heavy metal have always seemed a bit weak to me. Unless the band is Iced Earth, Demons and Wizards, or Nevermore, I'll happily opt for spinning heavier stuff. In fact, I find it very difficult to understand why most people get into bands like Blind Guardian or even (dare I say it) Judas Priest, because the music doesn't have the weight and drive I associate with the term "Metal." Though most of the trouble arises in weak, sung vocals, something about the majority of power metal's music is also lacking. Whether it's that the bands are trying too hard to be sensitive or whether they're just weak all around like Hammerfall or Steel Prophet, the music doesn't do well to be put in the same overall genre as Aborted or Cryptopsy.
Keeping my above rant in mind, I'd like to express my pleasant surprise at US newcomers, Pharaoh, on their debut After the Fire. The CD, through and through, is power metal, the vocals are sung, and the guitarists are working the fretboards overtime, but the result just isn't weak. Sure, some songs like "Forever Free" and "Heart of the Enemy" definitely bring these guys down a notch or two, but the result is still a power metal album that is enough above average that it might be able to hold its own among the bands I mentioned in the first paragraph. Featuring Tim Aymar's (ex-Control Denied) more than adequate vocals and the band's blend of well-produced, well-written Priest/Maiden influenced power metal, After the Fire is a disc that power metal fans should embrace and skeptics like myself will even enjoy. Though I really, really don't like power metal, Pharaoh has made it impossible for me to say that the scene is devoid of talent.