High On Fire – Luminiferous

“High On Fire are gods to a generation of bikers, barbarians and beardos, and luminiferous is one of their finest hours.”

That’s what I saw when I bought High On Fire’s latest album, Luminiferous this past Friday, and for once I might actually agree with Rolling Stone on this one.  Just one question: what the fuck is a “beardo”?  Is it meant just to describe someone with a big beard?  If so then I understand because I saw a few on those when I saw High On Fire at Webster hall back in October 2007.  But if it’s meant to say dudes with beards are weird then fuck them because as far as I’m concerned Rolling Stone’s core audience are a bunch of dirt bags who probably don’t even shower.  It’s bad enough Rolling Stone as a whole appears to forever be stuck in the 1970s!

I wonder if Matt Pike was looking for irony when he named the band’s new CD Luminiferous because there sure as fuck ins’t that much light being carried through here.  I’ll never forget when I first heard the band back in 2004 and decided that this was what Master of Reality-era Black Sabbath would’ve sounded like had Lemmy joined them and sped up the tempos greatly.  On Luminiferous it’s probably even MORE intense as it ever was and that especially goes for Blessed Black Wings!

I put this in my car and my ass was immediately kicked by “The Black Plot”.  The whole band immediately came in with a great mid tempo chug that quickly turns in to some of the greatest sludge thrash I’ve ever heard from them.  Matt Pike as far as I’m concerned is the king of fast paced sludge; his guitar sound is so strong, so heavy, yet you can still hear everything he’s doing.  Des Kensel does a fantastic job of keeping up with the riffs.  His double bass work and his fills highlight the guitar and bass parts without overshadowing them, which is so important when you’re in a band.

There are some tracks like “The Falconist” where the band show their ability to write solid mid paced songs that may not be as frenzied as what they’re known for but are still heavy as FUCK.  I recommend that track alone.  I also recommend “The Cave”.  Jeff Matz – who I once saw opening up for Motorhead with his old band Zeke, ironically enough – opens up the song with this bassline that offers a brief sense of calm before the rest of the band kicks in and fucks everything up.  Since this song alone is nearly eight minutes long I have to say now that I appreciate the fact that the guys are able to keep shit from getting absolutely boring, finding the right spots to changes things up.

Another thing I appreciate is that the band’s recording process hasn’t changed that much.  Sure, things sound clearer but matt Pike still appears to be recording his solos live without any backing tracks, which provides so much of a live feel.  I’m pretty sure the last time I remembered a band doing that was Pantera starting with Vulgar Display of Power.  It actually makes the album sound even heavier in a way.  I just found out that High On Fire will be playing The Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY on August 18th.  I’m sure I’ll be going!

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