HIGH ON FIRE
HIGH ON FIRE is:
Matt Pike – guitars, vocals
Jeff Matz – bass
Des Kensel – drums
Since 1998, Oakland, California’s HIGH ON FIRE have been searing the ear canals and throttling the minds of their listeners. And the 2015 release *(their seventh full length to date) LUMINIFEROUS does just the same, building yet another nest in their highrise pillar of doom.
HIGH ON FIRE helped to kickstart the most recent wave of the ever-latent *(and always there) “stoner/doom” genre, many years ago, which in and of itself contains an almost overwhelming series and differing varieties of experimentation, that it can lead one to wonder what exactly constitutes the stoner/doom genre. Is it the forever classic godfathers of dark, heavy music BLACK SABBATH? The introspective, soul-deprecating, yet begging for redemption, epics of TROUBLE? The unexpectedly stoner-doom/punk of ST. VITUS? The hour long, two-note rattling thrums of SUNN O)))? The dessert death-dirges of KYUSS? The post-hippie psychedelic aloofness of CATHEDRAL? The forever twisting sonic weapon/endurance test of OHM? The brilliant, unrelenting *(and best band of the genre – – – however that is merely this asshole’s opinion) UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS? The radio friendly QOTSA? The goth-tinged TYPE O NEGATIVE? The epic tales of good versus evil found in CANDLEMASS? It’s everything mentioned above, and then some, in all reality. Hear the wrong thing, and you’ll never want to have anything to do with it again. Hear the right thing, and you’ll be hooked *(no pun intended, heh).
It’s all a perceptive thing, really. However, you don’t have to be a ‘stoner’ to enjoy the music *(either way, I am, both a bit of a stoner and enjoying the music).
Having grown like some twisted phoenix from the ashes of Matt Pike’s former band SLEEP *(also of the genre, though a much, much different sounding band), this release sees HIGH ON FIRE enter new experimentations in the darkened land of “Carcosa” *(also the second song on the album), an ancient and sinister place reached only by the minds of the mad and tormented damned.
Crashing in with opener “The Black Pot,” *(as I sit here smoking res), this theme of dark magic, different dimensions, questioning reality and cosmic monstrosities permeates the rest of the album. The 2nd track leads them directly into the realms of dim “Carcosa” itself, the track another scorcher. My favorite on the album is 5th track “The Falconist,” the most uniquely structured song on the album, the lyrics are filled with stark metaphors about what the winged beast sees from its high-sky point of view, how the beasts ‘seer’ feels it, and that sky having about all the safety of the madness on the ground below it.
The title-track, “Luminiferous” stands out as well, a “Planet Caravan”-esque bit of slower paced, full-on stoner rock, again uniquely structured and keeping in theme lyrically with the rest of the album. When the Veil unravels, and those fissures of brightly lit darkness break out from within that fracturing mind, you almost feel as though it’s from yours *(most likely the point).
For those not familiar with all this Carcosa and realms of madness speak, you might want to pick up some books and brush up on your Robert W. Chambers’ “Yellow King” tales, or any number of stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, and others of their blackened, nihilistic, cosmic-chaos consuming ilk. Or *(if you’re just a lazy fukk), at the very least, watch the first season of “True Detective” *(of which I’m assuming Matt Pike and company did, though I have a sneaking suspicion they weren’t altogether unfamiliar with those tales or the concepts/philosophies contained within them already) to get a better idea of what I speak.
Otherwise, this is your standard pummelling HIGH ON FIRE album. Stoner/speed/doom we’ll say, with some modern hardcore breakdowns here and there, tangled around the stand-out songs not unlike the black tendrils of Shub-Niggurath itself. This is, to me, their most entertaining release since the first full length THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE (2000).
For a three-man band, with production by Kurt Ballou, this is a fairly intense thicket of impenetrable metal. Recommended for those into the heavier, harsher sides of sound and sonic dissonance, LUMINIFEROUS is high on concept, high on production values, and HIGH ON FIRE.