High on Fire: Obscene Volume, Filthy Riffs, Unfuckwithable Metal

Subgenres and trends tend to come and go perpetually in heavy metal, but one thing that doesn’t change is how consistently impressive the albums High on Fire puts out are.

The group of crust-metal forebears, led by the both famous and enigmatic nomad that is Matt Pike — also heralded as an icon for his work with doom-metal game-changers Sleep — added another collection of rippers to its growing canon with this year’s Luminiferous, a study in unbridled intensity captured at God City Studios by engineer, producer, and guitarist Kurt Ballou of Converge (a contemporary legend in his own right).

Though it may be a bit gauche to overanalyze something as seemingly self-explanatory as High on Fire’s brand of metal — a bombastic, ballistic, whirling dervish of sound, fueled by neck-breaking riffs and walls of distortion — there is something curious about a band remaining this potent after so many years grinding away relatively unchanged in ethos or sonics. Is it Pike’s immediately recognizable pirate howls, delivering tales of ancient mysticism, the occult, and the lizard people who may or may not walk among us (undoubtedly plotting our enslavement if they are here, according to Pike)? Is it the face-melting guitar solos that speak of a man well-steeped in the lessons of demigods like Iommi, Page, and Blackmore? Is it Des Kensel’s unstoppable double-bass pummel or the crushing wall of thunderous fuzz spat out by bassist Jeff Matz?

Of course, it’s the whole mélange, but there are plenty of bands that ape the same tropes and fade into obscurity after an album or two. High on Fire, however, has grasped and accentuated everything that makes it great in a way that is truly inimitable, and for that, we salute the band.
High on Fire returns to South Florida to baptize the area’s true believers with a night of obscene volume and filthy riffs, so come forth, ye hessians, and ignite thine spliffs! Also, the band’s direct support is none other than Louisiana’s own gift to doom fans everywhere, the mighty Crowbar. An unfuckwithable bill, indeed.

High on Fire
With Crowbar. 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 16, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $17 plus fees via Call 954-564-1074, or visit
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David Von Bader