Pharaoh, The Powers That Be (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

The Powers That Be is the first Pharaoh album in nine years and it is one of the best the band has ever produced.

One of the early purveyors of melodic metal in the power metal scene, Pharaoh began back in the 1990s and has released a string of memorable albums through years, the newest being their fifth, The Powers That Be. The line-up has consistently been Chris Black (drums), Matt Johnsen (guitar), Tim Aymar (vocals), and Chris Kerns (bass).

When the band got together to work on the new record, they faced the same issues every other band ran up against: the global pandemic. They worked around these challenges by recording some parts separately and had to wait until the situation changed enough that the finishing touches could be put on. These external shocks did not deter Pharaoh from creating an album of blazing originality that breaks new ground while holding the line on the band’s founding principles.

There are nine songs on The Powers That Be starting with the high-energy title track. The vocals are melodic with a rasping touch that catches your attention and holds it. The guitar leads are precise and intricate, and the composition itself is stacked with engaging turns and leaps. There are even prog moments sprinkled in to enrich the musical environment.

Most of the music is up-tempo, except for the short, reflective “Waiting To Drown” and a few movements here and there, so you can expect fast-moving metal to keep you rolling from beginning to end. My favorite songs include “Ride Us To Hell” with its raging lead guitar work, and the closer, “I Can Hear Them,” which I see as a showcase for what the band is about. This new Pharaoh album delivers exactly what their fans are looking for. Recommended.

The Powers That Be is out now. Get the digital at Bandcamp and the physicals at the Cruz Del Sur Music store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://pharaohmetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-powers-that-be

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/PharaohOfficial

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/store/

Pharaoh, The Powers That Be (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

The first long-player from Philadelphia Psychedelic Doom band Heavy Temple is a rumbling juggernaut that will roll you flat.

Heavy Temple is a trio that creates memorable and full-bodied music for your mind. Working with guitar, bass, and drum, they are able to establish and pursue complex ideas in a way that soaks into the listener in the most appealing ways. Lupi Amoris is their first full-length album, and they have also released two EPs in the last few years, Heavy Temple (2014) and Chassit (2017), as well as a split with Wolf Blood. The music and performance are languid, and Heavy Temple is a band you will surely be hearing a lot more about in the months and years to come.

The first song is “A Desert Through The Trees” and it starts up with a penetrating pulse that is soon joined into a rollicking jaunt that turns toward heavy burbling psychedelica. “The Wolf” has a way of being spacier while still bringing forth the big, heavy guitar sounds. “The Maiden” closes the half with a rambunctious telling.

Side B is “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” and “Howling of a Prothalamion.” The first song is the longest, nuzzling up to ten minutes. It unfolds slowly and surely and walks the earth with power and care. The lead guitar parts to me are the most memorable, particular the dual approach. “Howling” has a broad range with some segments that are rolling, rambling riffs and others that are ethereal and quirky. It is an unexpected and very strong closer.

Over the course of these five tracks told in about thirty-three minutes there is an enveloping experience few other bands could create. It’s a trip. Recommended.

Lupi Amoris is out tomorrow, Friday June 18th from Magnetic Eye Records. Explore the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com/album/lupi-amoris

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/magnetic-eye-records/heavy-temple-lupi-amoris.html

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

Blazon Rite, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem (Gates Of Hell Records 2021)

Philadelphia metal molders Blazon Rite keep the campaign going with their new long-player, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem.

Last year’s EP Dulce Bellum Inexpertis was filled with portents and promise. It showed an approach to Epic Metal that was solid and expansive, a wall of sound built to the top. The new album not only continues the ideas signaled in the earlier work but also expands on them. Blazon Rite is James Kirn (guitar), Johnny Halladay (vocals), Pierson Roe (bass, synth, and guitar), Kay Hamacher (guitar), and Ryan Haley (drums).

There are eight tracks on the new album, and they display a greater narrative variety compared to the earlier release because Endless Halls Of Golden Totem is not a themed album. “Legends of Time and Eidolon” starts the boulder rolling with a commanding guitar riff that is quickly surrounded by the rhythm section and a synth line. Johnny Halladay’s voice rises, sounding like a traveling mage delivering the harrowing tale from village to village. The lead guitar skips in trippingly with bright colors highlighting the deepening story and completing it.

Every song on the album is constructed with the same thoughtful complexity and earnest roundedness. The styles vary from one to the next offering a rich listening environment. The music has roots in classic metal while pushing grand stories and power metal appreciations. The opening bars of “Put Down Your Steel” reminded me a little of Judas Priest but the rest of the song didn’t. “The Executioner’s Woe” made me instantly – and only for an instant – remember Rainbow’s Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll before moving off in other directions.

The title track alternates between power metal pronouncements and quieter moments while “Alchemist’s Brute” offers a light-hearted eeriness. The final song is “Into Shores Of Blood” and it is somber and sorrowful to begin with but turns up the tension and volume after a couple minutes to deliver a colossal sound. Blazon Rite made a good decision to create this kind of album in all its variety that nevertheless preserves in each song the band’s core principles. Recommended.

Endless Halls Of Golden Totem is out from Gates Of Hell Records this Friday, June 18th, in digital, CD, and vinyl forms.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blazonrite.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/blazonriteofficial

Gates of Hell Records, http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/

Review of Dulce Bellum Inexpertis, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/22/blazon-rite-dulce-bellum-inexpertis-review-gates-of-hell-records-2020/

Blazon Rite, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem (Gates Of Hell Records 2021)

Seismic, Seismic review (2020)

The first album from Philly instrumental doom band Seismic is an all-encompassing heavy crush.

Anthony Mariano (guitars), Ken Miller (bass), and Mike Lang (drums) came together as a trio in 2018. The quick take is that they play instrumental Doom Metal, but it is not really as homogenous as that. The band’s self-titled debut plainly demonstrates the musicians’ broad palette. In some ways, instrumental music is more compositionally freeing because of the absence of the vocals. It is true you lose the blatant narrative organ, but you also dispense with the need to create music that works with that element.

The album is three songs: 6½, 7½ , and 11½ minutes running. “The Colour Out Of Space” is a minor cacophony for a few seconds before the heavily distorted vibrating strings turn up the power and the feedback squeals open your eyes. The massive doom thrum is the billboard you drive by until the lead work drops in and percussion solidifies the form. You are halfway through by the time the speedy chop rolls up. Riding the high waves of the pushing riffs is nimble electric guitar melody. “Haunter In The Dark” has a more straightforward front end – an ominous percussion movement that is hesitant and also forewarning. It sounds like something terrifying is about to happen, but you have to hang around to hear it.

The longest piece is last, “At The Mountains Of Madness.” Lovecraft is a doom go-to, and they bleed the eerie vibe for all it is worth. Over the course of the song, the haunting seeps in and cannot be shaken out. The atmosphere swells in your lungs, roiling and determined, and clings like sticky smoke. But then you don’t want to let it go, anyway. This is more than an excellent start, this first album from Seismic, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next in the coming months. Recommended.

Bandcamp is the quick and easy place to buy the download. You can also preorder a vinyl version there which will be out in January.

Links.

Website, http://www.seismicdoom.com

Bandcamp, https://seismicdoom.bandcamp.com

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/seismicdoom

Seismic, Seismic review (2020)