Music Review: High On Fire

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High On Fire

Surrounded By Thieves


Matt Pike and High On Fire are back, so it would probably be a good idea to cower in fear. If you're not familiar with Pike, he was once the guitarist of a great doom metal band called Sleep. The perfected the art of slow death, culminating in their hard to find last album, "Jerusalem."

Since then, Pike's craft has only grown stronger. I think it's safe to say that this record solidifies Pike as the best heavy metal guitarist since Tony Iommi. Now, when I say "heavy metal‚" I mean this in its classic sense (Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Pentagram, Obsessed), not in the all-encompassing manner that includes speed metal and prog metal and all the many branches that have shot from the Hessian tree. And no one plays heavy metal better than Matt Pike.

This record contains two kinds of guitar playing. The first is grueling, deep sludge that should immediately remind you of bands like Kyuss and newer kids like Goatsnake. Listening to metal this slow and methodical feels like wading through poisonous quicksand, and it probably wouldn‚t hurt to be really baked when listen to it. I mean, they don't call Kyuss the gods of stoner rock for nothing.

And then, just when you think you‚re destined to be pummeled slowly to death, Pike unleashes his blade: glimmering riffs that rise from the muck and lay siege on all those who dare question His Godliness. And when I say "riffs‚" I mean that in the Bill and Ted‚s Excellent Adventure sort of way. These are riffs along the lines of Iron Maiden and early Megadeth, back when it was still possible to kill a man with nothing but a V-neck and a bemuscled, mulleted drum-masher.

I suppose I could waste your time describing the drumming and the singing, but it would be a waste of time. It's a lot of growling and thump-thump-thump. Let me stop beating around the bush: this is the kind of slow, agonizing death that everyone should want. Highly recommended.

Michael Baker


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