PHARAOH formed near Philadelphia in November of 1997. While listening to SAXON, guitarist Keith Barnard and drummer Chris "The Hammer" Black conceived of a band whose influences would predate the Power Metal boom that was then just beneath the surface. Keith was playing Death-Edged Thrash Metal with FINAL PRAYER, and Chris played Swedish-influenced Speed Metal with DAWNBRINGER.
Recruiting guitarist Matt Johnsen accelerated the song writing significantly, and the three wrote "Slaves" at their first rehearsal. Before long, more riffs materialized, and Keith decided that the direction of the writing no longer suited his interest. Around this same time, bassist Chris Kerns joined the project, completing what would be PHARAOH's core song writing partnership for several years.
Contrary to the Rock-based approach initially laid out by Chris Black and Keith Barnard, Matt's guitar playing strived toward more challenging territory. Chris Kerns' preferences fell somewhere in between, and by composing songs in various pairings, a multifaceted PHARAOH sound emerged. Kerns' fist-pounding heavy Metal songs offset Matt's speedier, intricate tracks, and vice versa. The sound owed its uniformity often to the memorable vocal lines Chris Black was composing, but especially the rampant guitar stacking. This was, after all, a studio band, and there were musical possibilities not afforded a live act.
The band committed its ideas to tape in numerous demo sessions throughout 1998 while searching for an appropriate vocalist. After some auditioners had come and gone, Tim Aymar (known for his work with PSYCHO SCREAM and CONTROL DENIED) expressed interest in PHARAOH's material and agreed to a one-off session.
The first official PHARAOH recordings appeared on an obscure Iron Maiden tribute album called "Maiden America" (Twilight Records). A double-CD package, "Maiden America" features "Aces High" and the PHARAOH original "Solar Flight", each in the opening slot on the respective discs. No wonder, given Tim's positively rousing take on "Aces High" and the band's energetic showing overall.
By late 1998, PHARAOH had enough material on its plate for a full-length album, and sporadic recording sessions began at Audible Images recording studio in 1999. With a rough recording of basic tracks, plus the compilation tracks, PHARAOH shopped its Modern Heavy Metal to labels around the world. The response was slight, however, because the band had no definite vocalist and very little interest in playing live. So, the band spent late 1999 and early 2000 refining the drum and guitar tracks already on tape when it could afford to do so.
After signing DAWNBRINGER, the Argentinean label Icarus showed great interest in the PHARAOH demo recordings and offered the band a deal to record " After The Fire ". Tim Aymar agreed to perform with PHARAOH until further notice, and sessions resumed at Audible Images soon thereafter. Due to the band members' other commitments, recording time continued to be spread out. Tim's schedule meant delaying the vocal sessions somewhat, which gave Jean-Pascal Fournier ample time in creating the album artwork. Once Tim's parts were arranged, it was clear that his contribution had transcended that of a session hand. His musical input strengthens "After the Fire" immeasurably.
But the Argentinean economic situation had Icarus on shaky ground, put the company temporarily on ice, and the release of "After the Fire" along with it. The band nevertheless had on its hands a powerful album full of a Heavy Metal that, beautifully, belonged to no particular generation.
A deal was then signed in late 2002 with Italian label CRUZ DEL SUR MUSIC. "After the Fire" will be Cruz Del Sur's first release and PHARAOH's songwriters will be sharpening their pencils for a new album shortly thereafter. Now with a definite line-up that includes four gifted and tested songwriters, the PHARAOH of the future will only be more expansive, thrilling, and resolute.