LondonNet Gig Review
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,
hed 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 Pikes 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, its
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 Kensels 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 doesnt seem like High on Fire is actively seeking
to slough off the stoner label just yet. Wisely, too theyre
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.