In certain circles, some might say “so goes Matt Pike, so goes the entire metal scene.” As the co-founder of two of the most iconic bands of the last two generations of die-hard metal fans, Pike’s mighty riffs laid down with SLEEP and later with High on Fire has led him from the underground to mainstream love from critics and fans alike. With his debut book about to drop, and a solo album tentatively due in 2022, Pike is on a roll and a High on Fire show, playing their first concerts in a few years now, is a necessary ritual for fans.
I don’t know about you, but, I turn into a kid on Christmas morning whenever a band I love announces a new album so I’m sure you can imagine the sheer joy that consumed my being when I finally got my greedy little paws on this gem. Friends, she is a beauty. If I could get away with just transcribing my excited squeals and witch-like cackling as I listened to this album, I would.
In all seriousness, stoner metal masters High on Fire return this summer with the highly anticipated Luminiferous (eOne) and it is worth every penny. Luminiferous is both strange and different and yet fits into the band’s prior body of work very well. ‘The Black Plot’ and “The Sunless Years’ are have been fantastic singles but can we just talk about the gift that is ‘Carcosa’ for a second? This track has been one of my favorites from the beginning. It’s heavy and filled with hypnotic riffs and a beautiful guitar solo that just completely draw you in.
‘Slave the Hive’ is an absolute shredder with its quick tempo and Jeff Matz’s throbbing bass lines. You can just tell that this is going to be one of those songs where you can feel the bass weaving its way through your bones and organs. Yes, please. This track takes the concepts of the hive mind and sheeple created by society and the mass media and puts them to music. The end of the song is almost a bit unnerving as it is punctuated by the faintest laugh just before it ends.
Des Kensel’s pounding drums open ‘The Dark Side of the Compass’ and what seems to be a tribute to the Bermuda Triangle. There are so many bands out there that only write songs about their love lives or childhood that I find it refreshing when someone does something different. Tell me about aliens and weird stuff and the mysteries of the universe. With its lyrics referencing lost ships, portals, and the supernatural as a whole, I know what to listen to the next I find myself flying over the Devil’s Triangle again next year. If I’m going to die, it’s going to be with Matt Pike crooning in my ear.
‘The Cave’ is easily another favorite of mine, even if it is soft and slow compared to the rest of the album but that’s precisely why I find myself drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I’m not usually a fan of ballad-esque songs as they tend to be far too cheesy for my liking but ‘The Cave’ is genuine rather than feeling forced. There is so much emotion contained in this song that it is almost palpable and I really enjoyed seeing this other side of the band. You can keep your ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and its millions of clones, I’ll take ‘The Cave’ any day.
Luminiferous is, at times, both lighter and heavier than previous albums and the risks that the band took when putting it together have paid off. I’ll leave my personal interpretations out of this but the English major in me just wants to sit around and discuss lyrics, connections, and themes for a few hours. The boys have put out one monster of a record and, if you couldn’t tell by now, I am extremely pleased. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, get yourself a gallon of Pike Juice instead and keep an eye out for an upcoming tour date near you.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE