About two years I ago I reviewed Pharaoh's debut album, “After The Fire
”, though the band's main claim to fame was their vocalist, Tim Aymar, former vocalist for Control Denied, the album was a fresh sounding nod to Iron Maiden with some fine melodic metal.
Their second album, “The Longest Night”, is a bit of a mixed bag. It starts off with “Sunrise” and its immediately evident that not much has changed in the band's music or sound, which is a good thing, they still sound very much like classic Iron Maiden, very fluid and dynamic bass playing, similar in style to Steve Harris's, fine melodic riffs with the same harmony lines as a Maiden or even a Thin Lizzy guitar line, energetic drumming, and on top of things - Ayamr's powerful voice, definitely one of metal's finest.
The sound is a love it or hate if affair, it’s not the usual power metal super crisp and bombastic one; it’s a rawer, oldschool sound that to my taste, fits the band perfectly.
What makes this album a mixed bag for me is the songs, while the debut concentrated on rather short, hymn-like songs, with catchy chorus and simple structures, this one goes a bit more into the prog and epic length songs, the opener – “Sunrise” starts off as a typical Pharaoh song, but then goes into a lengthy prog sounding lead section.
Another example is the fantastic “By The Night Sky”, this is a fine Maiden clone at first, but then it goes on and develops into a long, maybe overlong epic track.
I can't really make up my mind yet if this change in the band is for better or worse, the fact is that the best track on the album, to my humble opinion, is the aggressive “Fighting”, with its galloping verse riff that turns into a catchy and melodic verse, one of the band's greatest moments yet.
In any case, this is probably a must for Maiden fans, power metal fans, and melodic fans as a whole, but if it’s better than the debut – That remains up to the individual listener.