Pharaoh Overlord / Pharaoh Overlörd

"The other day a mail order customer called up and ordered Finnish post-rockers Circle's tUMULt release "Andexelt", and also "Ciudad de Brahman" by Argentinean stoner-rock outfit Natas. I immediately suggested that he also get a copy of this debut CD by Pharoah Overlord, which, being the "stoner rock" project of Circle's Jussi Lehtisalo, is pretty much a perfect cross between the hypnotic riff-repetition and rhythmic pulse of Circle and the super heavy stoner vibe of Kyuss-worshippers Natas! Jussi describes this project (which also includes the guitarist from Bad Vugum band Sweetheart) as being "hypno-improv-stoner-rock from Finland (file under psychedelic)" and we'd have to agree, that's the honest truth. It's VERY psychedelic in the most head-noddinest of ways, really not that far removed from the heavier Circle output, but with more of a stoner sensiblity that should definitely appeal to fans of Kyuss and the like. The jams on here also hark back to 70's greats like Pink Floyd and Ash Ra Tempel. It's all instrumental, all mesmerizing, totally great. Everytime we play it in the store people ask what it is, it's that good. Definitely if you're already a sucker for anything Circle (like us!) you'll want it, and stoner/space rock fans should also be very very happy with this disc. Oh, and yes, it's called Pharaoh Overlord, how cool is that? Released in the US via Andee's tUMULt label."
Allan Horrocks / Aquarius Records

"This is some pretty serious drone rock, and I don't mean that in a good way really. I really tried to get into this CD but for the life of me can't. It's basically 6 songs of pretty much variations of the same riffs... That is that each song yes, has its own riff, but it's just that. One riff over and over again... Sure there are slight differences from riff to riff, and improve is technically the title for this music, it's pretty redundant. Some of you might like this slowed down riff acid rock stuff, but for me it sounds like 14 year olds making music... Maybe the dance clubs will dig it, and you might too - who knows? Anyhow, it's psychedelic and repetitive... Tons of studio effects, and tons of overdubs... interesting on acid I am sure, but still not the umph that say, the Butthole Surfers would put out if you know what I mean."
Robwrong / Stoner Rock webzine

"Pharaoh Overlord is definately the issue's best newcomer in the psychedelic, space rock style. I've read quite terrible reviews about the band's ART (just like at stonerrock.com), but Jussi Lehtisalo's (Circle, etc.) new project is just magnificent in my eyes! Absolutely amazing burning acid rock jams, 60's psych - buzzing trebly guitars spun out echoing vocals. It's mellow, gentle, floating and dream-like. Pharaoh Overlord will take you on a fantastic voyage into inner space. It's colourful, intense, breathtaking, pure instrumental nirvana, I'm lost for words. Classic is the only word for it."
Hegedus Mark / Psychedelic Fanzine

"La lumière de ma chambre vacilla, sentant sûrement  le danger imminent. J'étais également très inquiét... Les baffles s'étaient mises à vibrer d'une façon très inhabituelle. La peur sans doute... Ma nana avait depuis longtemp déserté le canapé "lit, bar, cave, frigo" se réfugiant illico presto dans le placard de la cuisinette... les 1er sons furent horribles à entendre. Sorte de cauchemard hypnotique rappelant les 1er émois de HAWKWIND. Inlassablement, le même rythme qui se répète... Et puis cette entêtante façon de concevoir les morceaux. Rythme dru, dur, sorte de "hard transe" décalaminé et les nappes de sons joués, rejoués jusqu'à l'envoûtement suprême... Obsession de son dis-je, de rythme toujours, de vagues à l'âme qui se projettent contre les murs, qui se cassent dans les méandres de ma vie...Fond sonore dis-je, insolent, narquois qui vire au malaise psychotique... Je suis lessivé par tant de soubresauts... Et lorsque la guitare se mit à illuminer mon cerveau meurtri, ma chambre tout entière se mit à tournoyer. La "transe music" était entrée en action. Véritable monstre musical qui propulsa mon squelette déchiré, laminé vers l'au-delà interstellaire. Ensorcelés, mes jambes se mirent à gesticuler frénétiquement, tout mon être était en extase. La transpiration, la chaleur, l'odeur bestial firent que mon corps finit par jouir par saccades interminables... La lumière de ma chambre fut la première à comprendre que le disque était fini... Ma nana, affolée par la consternante constatation m'injuria comme seules les femmes jalouses peuvent le faire et me fit promettre de ne jamais plus écouter ce satané disque..."
Silvio / Stonerrock.Free Webzine

"I know you have never heard of this, but this is a genuinely fantastic, instrumental, heavy stoner rock/krautrock trio (guitars, bass, drums). Heavy repetition builds up trancelike patterns of mind-melting rhythms & sounds. Just when you think it's about to get a bit repetitious, it switches gears & launches into something new. The only thing I can think of to compare it to is imagining early Black Sabbath meeting Gunther Schickert, with Gunther being the leader..."
Steve / Wayside Music

"Much like the toxic sludge that all of humanity's waste eventually becomes, Finland's Pharaoh Overlord have distilled thirty years of rock music into a slow, blistering, bubbling, psychedelic ooze. As the ooze slowly moves through your ears, familiar objects gradually reveal themselves, like a bastard aura hovering above the monotonous blobs of the group's repetitive dirges. While this contamination of the brain may make you a little uneasy at first, it makes a lot more sense once the chemicals begin to take hold. Soon, it'll be the only place you've ever known.
#1, the band's appropriately-titled debut, struts like post-rock's bad-ass stepbrother, fucking and bleeding as it tramples their vibraphones and Nord Leads; I have to say that it feels good to live vicariously through the power of this music. There are only six songs here, but #1 clocks in at almost an hour; each song introduces a mean, beefy, ultra-distorted riff and then grinds in it for the next eight minutes or so. If a band tried to incorporate this kind of music into shorter songs with vocals, I would most likely hate it -- but in this case, the music's trancelike qualities add a tribal aspect that somehow makes it acceptable to my most excoriating taste (ahem). Luckily, the Overlords throw in just enough subtle-but-trippy overdubs and cool guitar solos to get your brain working as much as your gut already is.
I guess the only thing I could compare this to is the Kyuss album I heard in my friend's car. Still, I'm not sure if Finland has any deserts in which to rock out. I've also read comparisons to a sister band called The Circle, but from what I've managed to find by them, I prefer Pharaoh Overlord's all-instrumental, totally raw, half improvised approach. I think the label on the cover of the album says it all: "Hypno-improv-stoner-rock from Finland," followed by "(File under psychedelia)". Let's not kid ourselves -- much of #1 is minimalist wank-mania sludge -- but hell, waste has to go somewhere. In this case, it might smell bad, but for some strange reason it feels right." 
Ed Anderson / Splendid zine

 

Pharaoh Overlord concert dates:

28.09.2001 Helsinki / Stella Star (Finland)
12.04.2002 Jyväskylä / Jyrock (Finland)
25.05.2002 Pori / Annankatu 6 (Finland) (with Sabot, Kroko)
28.06.2005 Helsinki / Nosturi (Finland) (with Acid Mothers Temple, Dark Sun)
30.06.2005 Tampere / Klubi (Finland) (with Acid Mothers Temple)
04.03.2006 KC Belgie / Hasselt (Belgium) (with Borbetomagus, LSD March...)
12.05.2006 Kipsari / Helsinki (Finland)

 

 

#1
CD (2000)

#2
CD (2003)

The Battle Of The Axehammer (live)
CD (2004)

#3
CD (2005)

#4
CD / LP (2006)

Live in Suomi Finland
CD (2007)

Siluurikaudella
CD (2010)

Out of Darkness
CD (2011)

Lunar Jetman
CD (2012)