Pharaoh’s debut full-length, Negative Everything, is an absolutely crushing release. The New Jersey three-piece play a blend of doom, sludge, hardcore, and crust that is generally slow, sometimes fast, never predictable, and always heavy.
The record’s opening track, “Recease,” starts with a slow, chugging, unaccompanied guitar and effectively sets the pace for the record. Pharaoh has no need for frills, theatrics, or oversaturated technicality. The band takes a calm, calculated approach to a sound which successfully invokes a feeling of frenzied unease. “Recease” cascades into a seven minute bad-trip epic, an infectious stoner slow-groove which compelled me to headbang while simultaneously embracing the crushing hopelessness of life on planet Earth.
“The Slasher” picks up the pace with a faster rhythm (awesome rolls and fills from the drummer), a denser use of vocals, and a ripping and disorienting noise-inspired solo. The singing is legitimately anguished and the combination of both guitarists’ voices accent each other perfectly. Each track on Negative Everything is different from the last, while still maintaining a cohesive atmosphere and sound. None of the tracks run much shorter than four minutes, with the longest clocking in at eight and half. The band doesn’t care if you’ve got things to do. They seem confident in the importance of their music, and I had no problem accepting this and sitting through and enjoying the seven and eight minute songs.
There’s plenty use of effects on the guitars to create an array of sounds which produce some really cool melodies with the beefy, relentless bass. “Degenerator” contains a groovy guitar lead reminiscent of classic stoner rock. Overall, the sound of the band is extremely full and nuanced, and even more impressive considering Pharaoh is a three-piece. “Dusted” is the shortest track on the album and has a sound closer to some contemporary dark hardcore bands like Full of Hell and Code Orange. “Dusted” transitions abruptly into “Bartholemew,” the album’s longest song, which contains atmospheric, spacey guitars, minimal drums and distorted, muffled vocals. “Bartholemew” takes a full five minutes to reach its zenith of noodling guitars and thumping bass rhythm. “Crying Mother” is the curveball of the album, containing a synthetic sounding drumbeat over screaming vocals. This is reminiscent of AFI’s forays into electronic parts circa Sing the Sorrow, except much, much heavier. The song again dips into the atmospheric, and the vocalist’s repetition of “nothing is sacred” at the song’s crest is one of the most powerful parts of the album.
Pharaoh deliver what they promise with Negative Everything. The album is basically one long bad trip, but the high is very intense. It’s a non-stop torrent of brutality but it feels amazing. Most importantly, the album smacks with emotional honesty and careful, calculated musical arrangement. If you’re looking for short, fast songs, or anything poppy, than this is not the album for you. If you’re alright with confronting your demons over eight minute crusted sludge odysseys, then I would highly recommend giving Negative Everything a try.
8.2 / 10
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