9 July 2015
High on Fire - Luminiferous
Now it is time for something with a bit more metal! For all the acts I have been awaiting to review, this is one I have been really looking forward to - coming out of the remnants of the legendary Sleep, High on Fire was formed when Matt Pike realised he had more to offer the world; over the years and a few line-up changes the trio consolidated and along with Mr Pike you have drummer Des Kensel and bass player Jeff Matz who have been tearing a hole around the world with their high octave metal that is does with the classic powerful trio set up. These guys have never failed to disappoint me and with each release there is something new brought to their arsenal, but without all the need to fuck about with the formula. The title for this album means producing or transmitting light and it is the second album that the band have used Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou behind the desk, a man that the band have stated helped rejuvenate the band's sound which is a massive compliment in my books. So after six previous albums, it is time to see how album number seven stands up.....
Starting the album is "The Black Plot" which really does come out of the door with all guns blazing; sounding like mortars going off within close proximity and it speeds along with such abandon that it could be acquiesced of being rampant. The sonic blast from the band shake out any cobwebs that may have been hanging around that it gallops on with a pace that can be compared to a pack of wild stallions heading towards the horizon. As opening track go, this is as good as any I have heard this year. The second track is called “Carcosa” and whilst it is not as manic as “The Black Pot”, it is just as heavy as that monster. Drummer Des Kensel sounds like a machine here, guitarist Matt Pike shreds like monster and Jeff Matz keeps everything tight with a blistering bass display. It have add a groove to the record that will make mosh pits form in an instant whenever they play this song live, it is also a lengthy track (as is quite a lot of this record) which gives the riffs time to evolve and time for the listener to be lost in the moment. Next up we have “The Sunless Years” which once again takes a bit more of the speed out of the equation, but it does not lessen the metal; if anything it increases that sound which can only come from a power trio. It just has a sound that you do not get when you have two guitar and it means the bass is slightly strong in places when it fills in the gaps that are left by the absence of the rhythm guitar when a solo is being played. It is a track which takes a few listens to get into, but it is worth the effort (especially for the ending moments that sound so sick).
Track fourth is called “Slave The Hive” and it is back to the trash for the band here, with the opening climb of the band through a classic trash riff we are introduced back to the manic side of the band as they head towards a different plain with their collective feet down on the peddle. This is the shortest song at just over four minutes, but it is also one of the most interesting numbers on the album with a solo for headbangers to mosh to at a frantic pace; another good number from this record. After this we are introduced to “The Falconist” which is the first song on the record which does not quite work for me; the music is performed well enough, the production is crisp and loud, but the overall result is just ok at best and it does not quite reach the heights of the first four songs on the album which is a shame. However, “The Dark Side of the Compass” brings the album back on track – but not in the way you might be expecting. It starts with a machine gun like riff and drum pattern which expands with the expected force and destructive riffage; but then the many section of the song is a Sabbath worship riff that changes this from another firebomb to a smouldering number that actually works a lot better that I was expecting. On first listen it did catch me off guard, but it is truly worth the effort once again and it turns out to be the song of the album with a guitar solo that sounds like a pack of wolves howling. The only issue I have is that I wish it had have been a bit longer, but this is a personal thing.
Starting off lighter approach that most of the album (in a given sense of the word light), “The Cave” approaches the audience in a different manner to the rest of the album. It is very brooding and dark, the bass sound is huge on this track and there is a portion of this song which reminds me of a combination of Black Sabbath and ‘Superunknown’ era Soundgarden as well. Much like “The Dark Side of the Compass” it take a while to settle in, but once it does it will have its hooks in you for long after it has finished. The penultimate track is called “Luminiferous” which is obviously the title track of the album, it takes a minute to get into the song as the drums rumble through the opening like an earthquake; when the song itself start it is all flames and violence upon the listener and it is another fine song to add to the collection for this band. Ending the album is “The Lethal Chamber” and it is also the longest track of the album; it is introduced in a sea of feedback which gives way to a doom sound which is both old and new in the same instance. If you are wanting a quick fix then this will not be the song for you, it is one which you have to be patient with and let the eight minutes and fifty two second of sound just wash over you. It is an epic number to end the album and one which sort of sums up the album perfectly for me with its tile.
On this album you have a lot of great things; the production work by Kurt Ballou is second to none and hold everything together really well. The overall performance of the songs is also something that I would not fault either, you know what you are going to be getting when you put on a High on Fire album and that is noise which makes the heaven quake and the demons laugh in delight. But whilst it is not broke, in places it was not at its best either; it is the first album by these guys where there has been a song which fails to work (sorry, but “The Falconist” is actually the first filler song I have heard from these guys), also there was a few numbers which could have been extended (“Slave to the Hive” and “The Dark Side of the Compass” come to mind) whilst maybe a bit of a change would have made the album flow a bit better. But these are personal opinions and do not take anything away from the overall performance which is still top quality. If you are looking for something to plug the Black Sabbath but with more balls gap in your life – look no further.
7.5 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out
Top Track – The Dark Side of the Compass
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
You can also purchase it from the new HMV store here (UK store link, might not work abroad)
You can visit the High on Fire website here
You can follow their activities on Facebook here
You can stream the album on Spotify here
You can stream the album on Deezer here
For our Tidal users, here is a link for you
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