Honestly, I don’t know why I’ve never fully immersed myself in the awesome that is High On Fire. I had a record once (2005’s Blessed Black Wings) but since I’ve only dabbled and been a casual fan. If you’re like me then prepare to slap yourself upside the head for missing out on High On Fire’s brilliance for so long especially after you sink your earholes into their seventh full-length, Luminiferous.
It’s hard to dissect an album as powerful as this because it’s practically beyond reproach. From the onset of “The Black Pot”, Luminiferous comes off as a hard-driving rocker of an album with a rollercoaster of riffs that is, dare I say, the most focused High On Fire album to date (Hey, “casual fan” doesn’t mean I haven’t paid attention over the years). Matt Pike is on point with a snarl that, while at times reminiscent of Lemmy, is just as potent as the guitar barrage he lays on throughout.
You want highlights? How about all nine tracks! “The Sunless Years” is like a cross between COC and Sabbath strengthened by the unstoppable pummeling Den Kensel lays down through to the song’s triumphant conclusion. On bass, Jeff Matz more than delivers filling out Pike’s guitar screams and providing a throbbing underbelly to songs like “Carcosa” or “The Falconist” which features some Geezer Butler-inspired work at the breakdown. Do you like your heavy rawk fast as well? Then try on a number like “Slave the Hive” which has glimmers of Ministry’s Psalm 69 and Rio Grande Blood‘s thrash tendencies or “The Dark Side of the Compass” which is like the heavy metal equivalent of a steamroller going full speed into a mountain. You want your High On Fire with a little experimentation? Luminiferous has that, too! How about the acoustic-driven serenity of “The Cave” with some great soloing from Pike along with his effects-laden spaced out vocals?
But before you fear that High On Fire has gone soft (“The Cave” isn’t that soft anyhow), the title track blasts forward with screams and driven beats to remind you why this band is so unrelentingly awesome. And if that wasn’t enough then the blistering shreds of “The Lethal Chamber” will surely put you at ease.