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LondonNet Clubs Guide

LondonNet Gig Review


High on Fire.  Image courtesy: Relapse Records. High on Fire

06.04.05
The Garage

The Garage
20-22 Highbury Corner N5 1RD
travel: Tube/BR: Highbury & Islington


Descent into Maelstrom
The Munitions Metal of High on Fire Reloads at the Garage...

On the tube home from the High on Fire show, I was watching the guy seated across from me, whose long hair was piled samurai-style atop his head, repeatedly raise his hand to his right ear and snap his fingers. After each snap that his eardrum failed to register, he’d get an incredibly dejected look on his face, one more of melancholy than concern for the loss of his aural faculties. I started laughing, but abruptly stopped after it garnered a petulant scowl. Hearing loss is a serious matter, I guess, especially when precipitated by those heralders of Armageddon-portending metal, High on Fire.

From the narcoleptic sludge-mire of dissolute canonized stoners Sleep, High on Fire rend brutal, theatrical and unassailably awesome metal. Anthems like “Speedwolf” and “Cometh Down Hessian”, combined with guitarist/singer Matt Pike’s gargantuan riffs and sepulchral, hellish growl, imagine Lemmy riding a giant white wolf over a frozen tundra whilst being trailed by axe-wielding Hessians. Annhilating, eviscerating and devastatingly heavy, it’s considerably less stoned than Sleep, whose repetitious, viscous rock induced a notably lower level of consciousness. Joe Preston (now a semi-legend, formerly of the Melvins, Earth, sunn0))), etc., hence the worshipping cry of his name by a pair of stoners standing in front of me) thudded on a bass that was alternately an ominous trudge and an apocalyptic equine gallop.

Drummer Des Kensel’s cascade of drumming prefaced opener “Devilution”, from new album “Blessed Black Wings”. The title track from the same album followed, as did a blistering rendition of “Speedwolf” and “Anointing of Seer”. The band takes a solemn but nonetheless rocking approach to stage demeanour. The crowd, generally of a mellowed ‘tude that suggested, nay, announced a markedly altered consciousness, responded with subdued deference rather than ecstatic head-banging to the thundering, flesh-flaying metal assault rendered by the band, but then, it doesn’t seem like High on Fire is actively seeking to slough off the stoner label just yet. Wisely, too – they’re possessing of a musical genealogy so convoluted that they garner a group of acolytes comprised of both stalwart stoners and newcomers, all of whom cheered the band back on stage for an encore.

Ashley Brown

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