Release Date: Jun 16, 2015
Record label: eOne
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Experimental Rock, Stoner Metal
Oakland, CA masters of all things heavy, High on Fire, return with their seventh full-length, Luminiferous. The nine-track album, once again produced by Converge's Kurt Ballou, follows the band's stunning 2012 release, De Vermis Mysteriis. Powerful and intelligent, Luminiferous picks up where the previous record left off, as the trio of Matt Pike, Jeff Matz and Des Kensel take the album to a deeper, darker level.Filled with dense, crushing riffs, starting with "The Black Plot," High on Fire maintain their high standard for consistently heavy music that is fierce yet focused.
Now more than ever, the heavy metal scene is a diverse, open-minded community thriving with bands willing to pull influence from all over the proverbial map; Post-rock, shoegaze, electronica have all been deftly incorporated into the genreâ€™s lexicon in recent years. While those types ofrecords can cross musical boundaries and break new ground, often culminating in exciting, challenging listening experiences, sometimes itâ€™s nice to just hear something actually METAL. High On Fire more than scratch that itch with their seventh (!) full-length offering, Luminiferous.Much like their most obvious influence Motorhead, High On Fire have found a formula that works for them and they largely stick to it.
Matt Pike has become a punchline again. In the weeks leading up to the release of High on Fire’s masterful seventh album, Luminiferous, listeners began to notice that the singer’s long-latent suspicions and esoteric interests had morphed at last into legitimate conspiracy theories. During "The Black Plot", the album’s exuberant opener and first tease, Pike grunts about the need to hide your mind because of nearby aliens and relents to the damage an evil global scheme has already caused.
In the three-year studio interim between High on Fire's mighty De Vermis Mysteriis and Luminiferous, guitarist Matt Pike has been a busy guy. Two volumes of live recordings appeared, and he and OM bassist Al Cisneros re-formed Sleep (after decades off), made a record, and toured with Jason Roeder from Neurosis in the drum chair. One had to wonder whether any of Sleep's stoner psychedelia would rub off when HOF returned to recording.
When Rolling Stone asked Matt Pike about the lyrical concepts behind Luminiferous, High on Fire’s seventh studio full-length, The Shirtless One outed himself as an apparent conspiracy theorist; “Lyrically, I think this is the album that’s going to basically get secret people to shoot me,” he said. “We’re being manipulated on a daily basis. And yes, 9/11 was an inside job, but that’s like the least of my fucking worries.
Before beginning to discuss the merits of Luminiferous, the seventh High on Fire album, let’s clear something up. Over the past decade and a half, High on Fire have proved themselves one of the best, and most consistent, heavy metal bands on the face of the planet. This is a truth often overlooked in the metal press, who continue to express far more excitement about Sleep reunion shows than about a new High on Fire record.
Some bands have so perfected their sound that major stylistic shifts aren’t necessary to keep pumping out quality records. Take High on Fire, for instance. The Oakland metal outfit recently released their seventh studio album, Luminiferous, and, honestly, it really isn’t that much of a departure from their debut, 2000’s The Art of Self Defense, and everything in between.
After six albums and 17 years of existence, High on Fire have made their blueprint transparent. The Oakland trio starts its construction on the firm foundation of drummer Des Kensel’s volcanic clatter. Jeff Matz’ intricate bass-work functions as steel girders holding the whole thing upright. Singer-guitarist Matt Pike offers stoned and dethroned riffing as the marble floors and his sulfurous vocalizations and conspiracy theory-filled (or “Conspiracy fact” as he corrected in a recent interview) lyrics as off-kilter decoration.
It’s been 15 years since High On Fire released its legendary debut, The Art Of Self Defense. But, unlike most heavy bands that have been around for that long, High On Fire’s music has only become increasingly fierce, evolving from mid-paced stoner metal to its current sound, which pays homage to bands like Saint Vitus while intermixing elements from Motörhead and Slayer. In 2012, High On Fire took this pulverizing thrash approach to an extreme with De Vermis Mysteriis.
Thriving on AC/DC's tradition of making the same album over and over, High on Fire started getting stale in 2010 on Snakes for the Divine before bouncing back two years later with the PCP-like concept to De Vermis Mysteriis. On the Oakland trio's seventh album, ingestions of new blood clearly continue. The band's post-thrash attack still levels steel, but minor tweaks – snakefinger solos ("Slave the Hive"), waltz tempos ("The Sunless Years"), thrash dynamics ("Luminiferous"), and psychedelic haze ("The Cave") – bolt a crushing new frame on a classic chassis.
High on Fire — Luminiferous (EOne)High on Fire’s run through last decade was one for the ages. Their five albums between 2000 and 2010 are the equal of anything in loud rock. While they generally get slotted in as a stoner band, and their debut Art of Self Dense was as gummed up and scorched as a worn-out water pipe, each record expanded their sound.
In a way I'm the worst person to review a High on Fire record. As a diehard acolyte of recently reformed Sleep - HoF vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike's other band - I feel High on Fire's a bit of a distraction, like when David Lynch releases coffee and ringtones instead of making movies. More than this, High on Fire's records have a way of worming their way into the back of the brain after never really impressing on initial listens.