Review Summary: On High on Fire’s seventh studio effort, subtlety and severity collide in exciting ways.
The sludge metal titans High on Fire have maintained a consistency in quality throughout their career that is only explained by their stamina and their artistic recalcitrance. Their last LP De Vermis Mysteriis
was possibly their most relentlessly pummeling effort to date. Their latest album Luminiferous
keeps the band’s approach feeling fresh as frontman Matt Pike and company diversify their songwriting and put forth a focus on wider dynamic contrasts. Consequently, their fires are still a-glowing.
Like on De Vermis Mysteriis
, the production chops of sonic genius Kurt Ballou on this album perfectly suit the band’s crushing volume and scale. Des Kensel’s drums, in particular, sound monstrous and thick. Joined by the hefty guitars and bass from track to track, they pound furiously on the ears to savage effect. On “The Sunless Years”, they spend a significant portion of the closing bridge in the spotlight. Matt Pike’s aggressive vocals are also a constant source of scorching heat throughout. Whether Pike is delivering his gruff singing or screaming without restraint, his vocals collaborate with both the intensity and speed of the layered instrumentation behind him.
Mid-tempo “Carcosa” compounds its unyielding percussion with flowing riffs and exhibits a powerhouse of fury. High on Fire also plunge into thrash metal territory with rapid-fire tracks like “Slave the Hive” and the title track, the latter of which contains a dazzling guitar solo and one of Pike’s most intense vocal performances to date. However, High on Fire’s seventh album slightly distances itself from their previous work with its emphasis on melody. Beneath the anger and the sheer magnitude of chugging guitar beat-downs lies an animated set of vocal hooks and sticky chord progressions. Thus, there’s a new method to the band’s madness, and it’s easy to love from the get-go.
When describing the band’s clever display of melodic sensibility, album centerpiece “The Falconist” comes to mind. While the song is filtered through the band’s trademark sinister lens, the chorus resonates incredibly well and the verses continuously rebuild the fire it releases. Shortly after comes the downcast, psychedelic simmer of “The Cave”, which opens with a brooding bass guitar before undulating between vast soundscapes of dread and surges of catharsis. As Pike sings “We laugh in death and kill the pain”, he numbly resigns to the shadows as the world around him is slowly consumed. This track in particular carves out new prospective turf for the band with its emphasis on mood over white-knuckled ferocity, and they explore it with finesse and superb songwriting. However, the band kicks things back into high gear with the title track and showcases their impressive ability to flip the switch between subtlety and severity.
does contain its share of “textbook” High on Fire material, but for the most part, the album excels at presenting varied compositions and unexpected turns that will open the ears of longtime fans and attract new ears as well. It’s not the heaviest record the band has put out, but it’s certainly one of their most memorable and exciting. High on Fire have been ever so gradually reinventing themselves while still remaining a prominent force in modern metal. With Luminiferous
they’ve proven that they're in it for the long haul.
The Sunless Years
Original Post: http://re-viewsmagazine.com/high-fire-luminiferous/