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Disc review: High on Fire


High On Fire


[eOne Music]

3 stars

High On Fire vocalist and guitarist Matt Pike has done little to dissuade the media-fed masses that he is anything other than dangerously close to batty. Pike blathered to Rolling Stone last week, concerning reports that he was becoming the sort of conspiracy theorist given to making offhand statements like “9/11 was an inside job, dude,” and the new HOF album “Luminiferous” underscores the idea that Pike isn’t kidding – “They” are out to get us, the album suggests, without ever really nailing specifics on just who “they” might be.

No matter. You don’t go to High On Fire for lessons on alien surveillance or elocutions on just exactly what happened on that Dallas afternoon long ago. You go to High On Fire for guitar riffs. And “Luminiferous” is stuffed beyond reasonable capacity with them.

It’s possible that “The Black Plot” has more meaning for Pike than it might for the listener, but regardless, the tune comes galloping out of the gate with such force that you are prone before its lead-footed approach, a slave to its relentless push and its fierce but memorable hooks. “The Falconist” is metal of an epic scale, of the sort that might make the Iron Maiden of “To Tame A Land” proud, and is also notable for the manner in which Pike is able to make his brazen growl of a voice a purveyor of genuine melody. Oh, and the guitar solos – Pike, backed ably by drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz, performs some serious high-decibel aural exorcisms here, cutting through the Mortorhead-like sludge to up the excitement ante every time his boot stomps down on his distortion pedal.

“The Dark Side of the Compass” is the album’s high point, as it moves through its metallic paces, grooving hard beneath Pike’s menacing howl, and providing an ample playground for drummer Kensel’s fleet footwork. Ferocious, indeed, but within that rage is an interplay that is as musical as it is muscular. As if to make sure you notice this fact, “The Cave” follows immediately on the heels of :Compass” with a slab of dynamic psychedelic rock that wouldn;t be out of place on a Kyuss album.

You can buy into Pike’s theories, or not. Either way, “Luminiferous” makes a powerful modern metal statement.

- Jeff Miers

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