High on Fire

One Eyed Jacks

April 09, 2006

There's a place for high-pitched guitars, vocal theatrics, and double kick-drum speed. But, it can sound too technical, too surgical. Case in point was Goatwhore, who opened up for High on Fire at One Eyed Jacks Sunday night. The singer's voice was decent, and they could play fast, but it didn't move me. It seemed like they were going through the metal motions--screaming for the sake of screaming, "i'm a bad-ass dude" posturing, and guitar shredding for the sake of guitar shredding. Accomplished but boring.

I prefer the raw stuff, which is why I enjoyed High on Fire much more than Goatwhore. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike sings from the pit of his stomach, so there's little pretense there. Just a guttural battle cry that out-Lemmy's Lemmy. It's unaffected, and so that draws me in and helps me to connect with and relate to Pike. When he sings "Blessed Black Wings," he not only makes me want to sing along, he makes me believe in Blessed Black Wings--whatever the hell they are.

High on Fire is very heavy on the low end, not the high end. Shrieking guitars are absent. In their place are pounding chords, which go well with the no-frills bass and guitar attack. There was some sort of illusion going on. I couldn't figure out how the band sounded so heavy with only three people. It's either the perfect interweaving of the three that creates a tight juggernaut, or it's just that the bassist was tuned low and the drummer loved banging on his toms. The drummer employed an extra large kick drum and mounted tom. That might have had something to do with it. The bigger the drum, the larger the sound.

I talked to a person before the concert who said that a mosh pit wouldn't be High on Fire's style, but there was a mosh pit for the length of the concert. I'm too old for a mosh pit. Walking out bloody isn't my idea of a good time, so I just stood on a chair against the wall for a while. The place was packed, by the way. There was a very, very fat man who just bowled people over in the pit. I wonder if that was his moment in the sun, if he gets made fun all the time and that's his way of taking out his anger.

Even though I prefer the material on HOF's last album, everything they played Sunday night sounded good.

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