PHARAOH - The Powers That Be CD

PHARAOH - The Powers That Be CD

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Nine years have passed since the last Pharaoh album, so expectations for this one were pretty damn high – but fortunately, this is a case where the long time it took to put together was a blessing in disguise, as this is some highly proficient, classy heavy metal music. Guitarist Matt Johnsen has said he wanted to dial back the insane ornate layering of the last few albums, and he did that – this is a more grounded work than either Be Gone or Bury the Light in terms of its basic sound. Paradoxically, though, The Powers That Be might be the band’s most technically proficient work to date.

Pharaoh’s sound is a thing in constant motion – it feels like every instrument is always doing something cool, from the taut snakelike pulsation of the bass to the acrobatic storm of the drumming. Tim Aymar on the vocals is a powerhouse as usual, with his throaty, gruff growls conveying this visceral emotion. He’s great at selling a vocal hook and this album has some of his most climactic moments and most emotional work, with his older age giving him even more gravitas now. The feeling I get from it all is just that these are guys who love playing music. If you like hearing a band just do their thing and revel in the love of music, then this album, and the band’s catalog, should be a fucking gold mine for you.