SEPTEMBER 29th 2018

Review by Metallic Barbie

High On Fire’s 8 th studio release (3rd with Producer Kurt Ballou), Electric Messiah, is generating some serious heat! The 9-track album is a goliath of tunes coming full circle in just under an hour. The Oakland trio, Des Kensel on drums, Jeff Matz on bass, and Matt Pike on guitar and vocals, have been bleeding ear holes since 1998
(this lineup solid since 2005) and show no signs of slowing. Most bands, at this point in their careers, may just sit back and ride the wave they’ve already generated for themselves with no interest in further exploring the outskirts of musical boundaries. Not HOF. Instead they push themselves to create yet another mind-blowing collection of hard and heavy tunes that pump you so full of lead you’re sweating bullets. Opening track, “Spewn From The Earth”, does anything but disappoint. The instinctual playing by Kensel, Matz and Pike immediately set the tone of the record with speed, precision, and pure grit. “Steps of the Zigguart/House of Enlil” follows up beautifully with an emotional roller coaster through end-of-days imagery. The title track, “Electric Messiah”, was one of my faves, with all the elements of a good ole fashioned heavy metal ‘rally’ song minus the pomp and fluff, but flush with grassroots High On Fire.

The longest track, coming in at 10:29 is “Sanctioned Annihilation”, which had an almost groovy feel under the weighty melodic chaos that inspired an almost brutal feeling of preparing for war. Nothing is left behind as High On Fire progress through the chugging “The Pallid Mask”, the angry drama of “God of the Godless”, the frantic “Freebooter” and vengeful “The Witch and the Christ”, only to close out with a more lyrically political “Drowning Dog” (which has an almost hopeful edge to it). As a whole, I ran through a gambit of emotions as one track bled into the next. I literally was able to climb the hills and drop into the valleys crafted with every kick, strum, riff and growl. Pike has been vocally compared to Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, and while one cannot deny the comparison, Pike makes each word, eachscream, each snarl his own. Kensel and Matz hold arguably the steadiest, most relentless baseline in the business, and this latest collection seethes perfection. You can hear the blood pumping and the sweat amassing the length of the album; High On Fire leaves nothing on the table in their unforgiving Electric Messiah – out October 5, 2018.