Thursday, June 18, 2015

Album Review: High On Fire- Luminiferous

High On Fire
***and1/2 out of *****
High on Fire just continue putting out hard as hell albums keeping a level of high quality connected to their headbanging ways. After pairing up with producer Kurt Ballou for 2012's extremely excellent De Vermis Mysteriis, Ballou returns to help the Oakland based group forge Luminiferous, a continuation of kick ass old school heavy metal.

The band touches on different sub labels in the genre but High on Fire are simply a metal band at heart and one of the best in the business. The trio of drummer Des Kensel, bassist Jeff Matz and guitar virtuoso/frontman Matt Pike pummel and soar with a well worn snarl and stomp.

"The Black Pot" opens with a six minute run through their styles, putting Pike's vocals a bit to the back letting the instruments scream and charge ahead. "Carcosa" thuds along as the drums push things before a riff (oddly reminiscent of Frank Zappa's "Stevie's Spanking") dominates.

There are big, heavy grooving tunes that are custom made for slow head banging with "The Sunless Years" and "The Dark Side Of The Compass", the first complete with muddy guitars/chem trail lyrics and the second dominated by a rhythmic intro. The trio also know how to slam into speed metal with abandon as they do on the title cut and the kick ass "Slave The Hive" which is our favorite track thrashing around in glorious chaos.  

HoF make their biggest gear shift dip into a slower, more blues/ballad territory with "The Cave" which leaves Pike's obsession with sci-fi conspiracy and deals plainly with his addiction. An excellent shift in tone and emotion for the band, reminiscent of Black Sabbath giving the band a deeper dimension and the album a more nuanced feel. This twist and the groups more arena ready numbers like "The Falconist" with its slow hard rock style and big guitar solo, show that the group are not afraid to bring in even more ears to their heavy rocking sound.

The bands continued success is a joy especially in a genre that is prone to dulling, fading or eviscerating itself. While not as ferocious as De Vermis Mysteriis, Luminiferous proves the band can expand things (even if just slightly) for a more polished (again, slightly) offering, producing one of the best metal records of the year.
We loved De Vermis Mysteriis and even ranked it in our top 10 for 2012. While this is a good-to-great metal album we do feel it is a slim notch below that one. Even so there is a good chance it will end up on our year end review...High On Fire are one of the best bands out there playing hard.

Support the band here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

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