Throughout the course of human history there have been certain phenomena that have blessed us with a mesmerizing array things you could set your watch to. In the metal world over the last decade plus one of those phenomena is a new High On Fire album. Matt Pike and company fire off albums like the swallows returning to Capistrano, if the swallows returned covered in the blood and feathers of less fortunate species. 2015 brings us the seventh installment of High On Fire’s continuing barrage on our collective senses and psyche, Luminiferous.
On a recent jaunt Eastward to make a recorded document of these nine brutal anthems, High On Fire made various pit stops to lay waste to anyone in earshot. In the melee Pike and company tested out various tracks found here on a live audience. The result was somewhere between giddy awe and stunned excitement as the realization set in that High On Fire was perhaps, once again, on the brink of something pretty special. Lo and behold, the recorded testament to High On Fire’s newest anthems of destruction do not lose the intensity and the ferocious delivery of the live set. Once again, Pike and company have channeled pure, frenetic energy into a tangible and digestible array of thunderous cacophony.
Of all the recognizable elements of a High On Fire record, it’s Pike’s growling voice and guitar that stir the drink, and on this album that remains the case. On Luminiferous, both sound rejuvenated as Pike delivers one of his most impressive and eclectic performances. From the punk-inspired, circle-pit inducer “Slave the Hive” to the ambient, stoner rock jam of “The Cave,” High On Fire continue to break down any concept of a ‘formula’ to their sound. But at the end of the day it is the raging, churning, controlled violence of tracks like album opener, “The Black Plot” and the stellar title track that fans have come to know and love above all else. Between Pike’s exceptional performance and that of his earthquake like rhythm section, Luminiferous has the feel of an army returned from battle after effortlessly smiting all of their enemies and the horses they rode in on. This is an album filled with memorable moments – the shredding solo at the end of the aforementioned “The Black Plot,” the absolutely sick and head-bobbing riffs that slither their way through “The Lethal Chamber,” the entirety of “The Dark Side of the Compass” – for a band that has made a career out of memorable moments.
Time has still not written the entire story of High On Fire. Their contribution to metal has probably not yet been fully actualized. But one thing is perfectly clear, and that is that at the end of the day High On Fire have once again delivered an album full of machine-like precision, full of stunning ferocity, and full of music worthy of repeated listens.
Luminiferous is out on June 16 through eOne Music. You can experience the album in its entirety at NPR.org.