For Fans Of
Californian stoner/sludge metal stalwarts High On Fire has been blazing the underground scene for just under 20 years now and have amassed a cult (and deserved) following. Keeping busy in between releases (2012 release ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ the predecessor), new record ‘Luminiferous’ is dirty, raw and downright heavy, and will surely please any fan of not only the band, but any lover of nefarious riffs, evil melodies and barbaric drumming.
From the get go, High On Fire’s latest offering is blistering; a rollercoaster of thrashing riffs and crushing percussion, and then the vocals kick in – the evil sludge- and driven aggression of intro track, ‘The Black Plot’ perfectly sets the tone for the return of High on Fire. One of the peak moments in this monolith of an album is found midway through with ‘The Cave’. Following the explosive nature of the previous tracks, the aforementioned slows things down with a clean yet filthy introduction that creates the feel for an epic, stoner ballad rivalling the likes of Black Sabbath’s more complex and inspiring works. Throughout the record, the listener is reminded of contemporary peers, Mastodon. Matt Pike’s skull-crushing vocals bear a familiar and inviting resemblance to many, Troy Sanders, of the previously mentioned Mastodon, and even the mighty Lemmy of Motörhead fame. Additionally, letting out such vicious roars while playing equally as vicious riffs can’t be easy for a sole guitarist and vocalist, however this does not mean there is any simplification in Pike’s performance. It remains as complex, psychedelic and absolutely dominating as one would expect.
‘Luminiferous‘ is a nine-track, fifty-four minute, psychedelic sludgy work of art packed full of instrumentation that will leave you absolutely exhausted. The drum work of Des Kensel is vigorous and complicated, while Jeff Matz’s crushing bass lines will leave listeners breathless as all members of High On Fire blend with each other in the aggressive journey that this album forcefully takes.
Lyrically, the full-length is rather bold and adventurous. Pike, coming from one of the most influential doom metal bands of all time, Sleep; it is expected that some of the themes behind his later works will be heavily doused in kaleidoscopic ideology. The album touches upon themes of extraterrestrial invasion and takeover, brainwashed humankind and conspiracy. Among these tracks, that paint a dystopian picture, are moments that explore a more poignant, emotional side. The aforementioned track ‘The Cave’ is admittedly by Pike himself, a love song of sorts about his ex-girlfriend. Furthermore, some tracks touch on his experiences with LSD as a teenager. The production is stellar, done by Kurt Ballou of Converge (what else would you expect!), the album has the feel of classic stoner release, none of the instruments muddle into each other, rather they blend together seamlessly to further create a deathly, heavy sound.
Stoner and sludge fans alike lift your heads to the sky and rejoice, for High On Fire’s most recent release ‘Luminiferous’ is a non-stop adventure through mighty riffage and hallucinogenic vocals. The album starts heavy and ends heavy, with choice cuts such as ‘The Cave‘, ‘The Sunless Years‘ (which features a pretty hefty instrumental jam/psychadelic solo that could have come straight out of 1969), and the title track ‘Luminiferous’ proving why you should definitely pick up this album, if not for the conscious-expanding lyrics, then at least for the riffs.
1.) The Black Plot
3.) The Sunless Years
4.) Slave the Hive
5.) The Falconist
6.) Dark Side of the Compass
7.) The Cave
9.) The Lethal Chamber