There’s underground, and then there’s six-feet under. For much of the metal community one would have to dig pretty deep to unearth Philadelphia’s melodic power metal kings, Pharaoh. Despite having released three incredible albums over the last eight years, the quartet remains a hidden gem.
Formed in 1997 by Chris Black (drums), Matt Johnson (guitar) and Chris Kerns (bass), the band later added vocalist Tim Aymar to round out the line-up. The group signed with Italy’s Cruz Del Sur records for its 2003 debut album.
With the band signing a new three record deal with Cruz Del Sur, it seems clear that the band will stay hidden no more. Pharaoh‘s fourth album, Bury The Light, and the first under its new contract will be released worldwide in late February (24th in Europe) and early March (6th in North America).
Chris Black and Matt Johnson recently took the time to jot down their thoughts and some track by track comments on the forthcoming album.
How do you think Pharaoh evolved in this new album?
Matt- We tried to add more textural elements to our songs while continuing to cut as much extraneous material as possible. The songs on this album are dense, but hopefully they never overstay their welcome. The basic template is the same as on Be Gone, but the album is less dark overall, and perhaps a little faster.
Any particular anecdote from the recording sessions?
Matt- This album took a long time to make, because shortly after the drums were tracked, our drummer and our engineer both became dads for the first time. Also, the vocals were tracked at my house while my son was only a year old. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to mind Tim’s voice.
Do you think the fans will be ready for this new Pharaoh album?
Matt – I think anyone who stuck it out with us after we shed the remainders of our obvious Iron Maiden worship after The Longest Night will be happy with our progression on this album. It’s still crammed full of traditional elements, of course, but we’re not trying to be retro or old-fashioned. We want to move melodic metal forward.
1. Leave Me Here To Dream
Chris: Another song about death’s best disguise: sleep. And the desire for the oblivion of dreams. And the power of guitar solos.
2. The Wolves
Matt: The funny thing about the 99% is that half of them vote exclusively in favor of the 1%!
Chris: And the other half doesn’t vote at all. Yet this is a very aggressive song, probably the most aggressive song on the album.
3. Castles in the Sky
Chris: Perhaps the typical Pharaoh nugget, with lots of melodies tightly wound. Brilliant lyrics by Tim. They almost make it sound like The Man is out to get you.
Matt: The Man IS out to get you! Guest solo by Mike Wead.
4. The Year of the Blizzard
Matt: The title is literal. One year under the snow, with supplies running out. Jim Dofka solos.
Chris: An epic track that shows more 70s hard rock influence than anything we’ve done before.
5. The Spider’s Thread
Matt: Based on a short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Buddha gives a sinner a chance to climb out of hell, but he fucks it up.
Matt: Regrets love company.
Chris: It’s true. And this one was a full-band collaboration!
7. Graveyard of Empires
Matt: Afghanistan will make you its bitch!
Chris: This song made me its bitch. It’s probably the most complex and challenging song we’ve done. Written by Matt, of course.
8. Burn With Me
Matt: Creative destruction.
Chris: Along with “Cry”, this is the radio single contender. Which probably means that I wrote it.
9. In Your Hands
Chris: This one is about how people are so good at creating their own problems and yet so terrible at creating any solutions.