Another one to file under “NWOFHM”! New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal. That’s Pharaoh Overlord/Circle bassist Jussi’s little joke. Only now it’s gone waaaaay beyond joking. Or to another level of joke anyway. What we’re saying, is that this fourth Pharaoh Overlord opus is a headbanger’s delight, for real. Sure, Pharaoh Overlord were already supposed to be the “heavy” Circle side project, and they were, but not like this. This ain’t mere ‘stoner rock’, this doesn’t sound anything like Kyuss anymore. Instead, they’ve adopted chugging speed metal riffage that could be from an Accept album circa 1984, lashed it to their usual repetitive krautrocky rhythms, unleashed some very metal vocals, and gone entirely over to the dark side (which, by the way, is the title of one of our favorite tracks here, the album-ending 8+ minute instrumental epic that just drives a mean riff into your brain like the spiked fist thru the face of the skull in the cd booklet!!)). They even snuck a little umlaut in over the 2nd ‘o’ in ‘Overlord’ on the spine of this cd.
Circle (and Pharaoh Overlord at this point have pretty much the exact same lineup as Circle, it’s basically the same band) have dropped big hints about their love of metal before — making references in their graphics and in their music, with many tracks on such albums as Sunrise and Tulikoira being pretty darn metal, as we’ve noted before — but here they go whole hog. They sound less like a spacerock band who want to give a nod to metal with a riff here and there, than like a really weird actual metal band! It’s rifftastic, hypnotic biker metal with a strange psychedelic side to it. And best of all — it works! It’s a high concept success (and as we mentioned, they’ve been seemingly high on this concept before, but never have been this tight with it). The unpredictable predictability of any Circle or Circle-related album, their basic kraut-inspired, “circular” formula, stands up to and indeed seems to embrace this metallic obsession. The tick-tock percussion and cyclical riffs just wind up tension, even as they entrance the listener, making this so very heavy and ominous in a way that maybe no other metal band would or could explore but they’d have to appreciate. AMAZING!!
Can Jussi and Co. get any more metal than this? Well soon we’ll see when we get the upcoming Circle cdep Earthworm which features Bruce Duff from ’80s alt-metal band Jesters Of Destiny on vocals! Supposed to be pretty darn heavy. Stay tuned.