Erupting from the ashes of famed stoner band Sleep in the late 90s, High on Fire has maintained a solid roll on releasing albums of increasing quality and a defined sound. This, their third album with producer Kurt Ballou hopes to be the culmination of their previous efforts.
Sounding like an angry well oiled machine, the band waste no time getting their groove on, coming screaming out with ‘Spewn From The Earth’ sounding like a lost Motorhead track, storming along at full pace as Matt Pike puts in his best Lemmy impression. Possibly the most immediate album opener this year so far.
From the stomp of what Pike has called his rock opera” ‘Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil’ to the more straight forward pace of ‘God of the Godless’, that sees the band planting a flag for the rockier side of their music with some very memorable riffage, everything the band attempts comes out sounding good so long as you are willing to put in a little effort.
This is because the album can come across as a constant cacophonous barrage of sound. No one instrument really stands out with the exception of the guitar solos, and the vocals are buried so far with in that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with the message of the lyrical content. A great song such as ‘Sanctioned Annihilation’ begins with clean, bluesy guitar that towards the two minute mark just gets buried within the mire whirling around it, same with the drum roll that opens ‘The Pallid Mask’. On its own it is cool, but once everything else comes in it is almost lost. As a consequence the album can take a few bites before it starts to taste ok. But if you are prepared to dig through that mud, every track on here is a gem.
High on Fire has always been abrasive , although here with the best material the band has assembled it feels like it needs to breathe more than it is being allowed to.
- Spewn From The Earth
- Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil
- Electric Messiah
- Sanctioned Annihilation
- The Pallid Mask
- God of the Godless
- The Witch and the Christ
- Drowning Dog