High on Fire


July 14, 2005

Pantera--meet Motorhead. American Metal band High on Fire mixed the accessiblity of Pantera with the Punk speed and aggressive ways of Motorhead Thursday night at Twiropa. High on Fire was a fan of hard rock-related, bombastic cymbal-on-guitar accents, and at times their guitar sound even resembled Pantera's razorblade-sharp, bent notes.

Guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike formed High on Fire in 1999 after Sleep, his former band, dissolved. Sleep was identified as Doom Metal and known for their slow, ominous movement.

Well, High on Fire's subject matter and sound is still foreboding, but Pike picked up the pace a little bit. High on Fire's music was full of relentless, speedy guitar riffs. Chord connected to chord connected to chord chuggin' on into the netherworld.

The focus of the songs was on the music. When songs had lyrics(one tune was an instrumental), Pike let out the usual gutteral scream. The instrumental was an example of High on Fire's guess-where-they're-going-next volatility. Each song didn't have a 1-2-3-4 verse-chorus-verse formula. When the music was repetitive, it had a head-banging groove, but it usually used unconventional chords and rhythms. The beat changed on a dime, but it always fit the music and kept it interesting. And challenging. This wasn't the type of music a regular Metal fan would hear from the back of the room and immediately be able to wrap his or her ears around.

Predictably, most of the crowd didn't give High on Fire a warm reception. They got the standard amount of applause, but it seemed like most were there to see following band Clutch and headliner GWAR. For the record, Clutch was boring and sounded tepid on the heels of High on Fire's attack. Kinda like when Bright Eyes followed The Faint.

Pike sweated and sweated and sweated some more. I was surprised he didn't electrocute himself. It wasn't odd to see the occassional drop of sweat pass through the stage light that was on its way to the back of the room. Pike thanked the crowd for coming, and he noted his hatred for warmongerers. That was all. Remember--it was about the music.

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