Back for another round of bludgeoning stoner thrash, Oakland, California's High on Fire unleash a brass-knuckled haymaker on their eighth studio long player, the punitive and workmanlike Electric Messiah. Working once again with producer and Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, who helmed the veteran group's two previous outings, the nine-track set commences with the aptly named "Spewn from the Earth. " Heralded by a tsunami of blast-furnace beats and pick slides, the song eventually yields to frontman Matt Pike, who delivers lungfuls of impressionistic, Cthulhu mythos-rich dread that invoke Lemmy by way of AC/DC's Brian Johnson.
Matt Pike has been having a busy and very successful year with his doom metal project Sleep, who released their comeback record, The Sciences, to critical acclaim. Luckily, Pike didn't burn out all of his creative energy, and turned out one of the greatest High On Fire records he possibly could with Electric Messiah.
Given that Electric Messiah is the band's way of paying tribute to the legendary Lemmy Kilmister, it's more than appropriate that opening track "Spewn From the Earth" sounds like the band playing a much heavier variation of ….
High on Fire are often compared to Motörhead, for many reasons: their raw speed, gravelly throats, swaggering attitude, and--lately, especially--consistency. Black Sabbath-style riffing at thrash tempos while Matt Pike sings about arcane creatures: You pretty much already know what a new High on Fire album will sound like, and that's not to their detriment at all. For almost a decade, they bounced from producer to producer, striking gold with Steve Albini (Blessed Black Wings) and Jack Endino (Death Is This Communion) before pairing with the more commercial Greg Fidelman for with their most anthemic material, on Snakes for the Divine.
The Lowdown: High On Fire fans know exactly what there're going to get when they spin a new record, as the Oakland-based trio has delivered dependable stoner/sludge metal for 20 years. The band's eighth studio album, Electric Messiah, and its title track pay tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, with frontman Matt Pike acknowledging that his gravel-throated voice has often been compared to the late Motörhead legend. With a lineup that also features bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel, High On Fire successfully construct Sabbath-ian, earth-moving riffs as their blueprint.
Rating: NNNN Since their 2000 debut The Art Of Self Defense, Oakland heavy metal outfit High on Fire have proven themselves stalwarts of a sort of classicist heavy metal that can be traced back to genre pioneers like Motörhead, Saxon and Judas Priest. It's to their considerable credit that they manage to feel, undeniably, like a heavy metal band in the purest sense without stooping to the self-conscious, quasi-ironized "old metal" revivalism of some of their contemporaries (Natur, High Spirits and, in a different register, the throwback doom metal of Pallbearer and Windhand). They are the rare band that feels nostalgic without seeming sly, crafting prototypical heavy (read: super heavy) metal records without winking or smirking.