High-on-Fire-LuminiferousThere are certain things in life you just come to depend on and expect. Hollywood will try to recreate your favorite movies, and they will all suck. People will place themselves above the proletariat to assume a level of faux superiority [Commie! – Steel Druhm]. We will all die, some more gloriously than others. And, without fail, California’s High on Fire will pummel the bejeebus out of you with every record they release. Oddly enough, going through the search engine on our very website, there are no other reviews for any of their prior albums on here. With Luminiferous, I’m here to rectify that not-so-slight oversight, and maybe bring to light why that is. Holy alliteration, Batman!

Once “The Black Plot” kicks off, you know what to expect: Des Kensel’s war drums galloping with (razor) hoof-like fury, Jeff Matz’s thunderous bass cutting through just enough to secure the backline… and then there are The Riffs.  Oh yes, The Riffs. One thing you can never accuse Matt Pike of is the inability to create excruciatingly heavy, monolithic riffs, and they are in abundance on here and the vast majority of Luminiferous. Pike and company sound absolutely recharged and focused, faking us out with a brief moment of silence before galloping forth with a tasty solo and a crushing ending. God… damn.

And the heaviness rarely lets up. You have the very “Hung, Drawn, and Quartered”-vibe of “Carcosa,” the Motorhead-on-Red-Bull rage of “Slave the Hive,” and the near-Sleep-like slow burn of “The Cave” which chronicles Pike’s battles with alcoholism (“Work your art and do it well/Took the road to living hell/Past is then and now is now/Escaped the Reaper with our vow.”) All of it is played well and with little hangups. And this is flat-out amazing, as Luminiferous is the first High on Fire album written and performed by a sober Pike. Anybody who was worried that the band would lose its edge can now sit back and breathe a sigh of relief, as this album is just as monstrous (and in parts, more so) as their storied works, and that, ladies and germs, commands some serious respect.

high-on-fire-2015

There are a few caveats, however. The songs can stretch a bit too long, with “Carcosa” and the otherwise incredible closer “The Lethal Chamber” being key examples. Also, they verge on self-plagiarism at times, but then again, MotorheadBolt Thrower, and Heaven Shall Burn have made long careers of doing the same damn thing themselves. In terms of sound, Converge‘s Kurt Ballou did an impressive production job here. Matz’s bass is always audible, Kensel utterly destroys and yet the drum sound is still quite powerful and not overly bright. Pike still very much cuts through like a battle-axe, thank the gods.

Luminiferous may not be the best album High on Fire ever put out, but it’s easily in the upper half, just behind Surrounded by Thieves and Death Is This Communion. This is yet another feather in the band’s Viking helmet. Everyone, come get your bludgeon on!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
Label: eOne Music
Websites: facebook.com/HighonFire
Release Dates: EU: 2015.06.19 | NA: 06.16.2015

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  • Dr. Scorpion

    Yay! Grymm!Grymm! Grymm!

  • ActualBastard

    “just behind Surrounded by Thieves and Death Is This Communion” is exactly where I would place this album. Congratulations on being right about which HoF albums are the best, and what order they belong in!

    • Andy777

      Self proclaimed HOF fanboy here, and yes Grymm totally nailed it Surrounded by Thieves and Death is This Communion are the two best. Great review Grymm

  • Francesco Bordoni

    RIIIIIIIIFFS

  • DrChocolate

    I just can’t quite express my rage at that “Big Trouble…” remake (see my years old avatar for reference) I love the Rock but good hell… Anyway, I’m stoked for this record. Sometimes I feel like I was The only long time HoF fan who didn’t really like Vermiis but I love what I’be heard from this one, I need to pick this up immediately.

    • Grymm

      LEAVE THE CLASSICS ALONE.

      • DrChocolate

        As Egg Shen succinctly puts it, “You leave Jack Burton ALONE! We are in his debt.”

  • BANNED: Howard Dean

    “Carcosa” and “The Cave” are my two favorite tracks off of this–the “Hung, Drawn, and Quartered” vibe in the former is spot on!

    Great album, as expected. High on Fire have never disappointed me (which is pretty remarkable, because pretty much every band with as many albums as them have put out at least one turd).

  • AndySynn

    That was an unexpected Heaven Shall Burn reference.

    • Grymm

      Always expect the unexpected from me.

      *vanishes into the night… to resume playing Diablo III*

  • Óðinn

    Great review Grymm. Thank-you.

  • 6810

    English teacher to teens is back again.

    FYI:

    alliteration
    noun
    noun: alliteration; plural noun: alliterations
    the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

    ex: sweet birds sang

    Consonance:
    Consonance is an element of half-rhyme poetic format, sometimes called “slant rhyme.” It is common in hip-hop music, as for example in the song Zealots by the Fugees: “Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile/Whether Jew or gentile I rank top percentile.” (This is also an example of internal rhyme.)

    Rhyme
    A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (or the same sound) in two or more words, most often in the final syllables of lines in poems and songs.[1] The word “rhyme” may also be used as a pars pro toto (“a part (taken) for the whole”) to refer a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.

    • Grymm

      Heh. I made a mistake. It happens. Thank you for pointing this out.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      nobody likes a know it all

    • asshole

      noun

      Definition of ASSHOLE

      1- usually vulgar : anus

      2- a usually vulgar : a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person usually vulgar : the worst place —used in phrases like asshole of the world

      ex: 6810

    • AndySynn

      I enjoyed this comment. Mainly because I like to play around with both alliteration and consonance in my own lyrics (and, since harsh vocals are such a “rhythmic” delivery style, you can play some really fun games with cadence and half-quarter rhymes and references).

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’m glad he’s managed to get sober and still work, it would be very hard when what you do is so closely associated in every way with your addiction.
    Always a brand of reliability, for me High on Fire are one of those bands that if I see a new album I’ll just get it, no need to check out first. Looks like I won’t be disappointed here too.

  • Wilhelm

    I would have expected more than a DR5, not too bad of a sound though.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Its amazing how being sober made Pike angrier than ever! Great review as always!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Maybe while he wasn´t sober he didn´t realize all the bad shit going on around? That might be why he´s angrier now.

      • Dogman

        I”m actually a bit worried about the amount of stuff he’s realizing all of a sudden. THEY will get him for sure if he keeps it up!

  • Grymm, someone mentioned DR5 on this one, is that true? I see no format or dynamic range score with this review and it makes me sad.

    • We only got the streaming version of the promo, so no DR was available at time of review.

      • The wave of the future I fear.

    • Andy777

      If the DR score for the past 9 albums they have released is any indication I’d say a DR5 is spot on. Plus if there was any doubt go look at the waveform on Soundcloud for the uploaded tracks, they suffer from Sausage Turd Syndrome. As one of my favorite bands it breaks my heart, but we keep on fighting.

      • Wilhelm

        I’m not sure if they record on analog or not but it seems to help the poor dynamic range. It is a bit ironic though that a band who borrows heavily from sabbathy and sludgier bands wouldn’t want to open up their sound more.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Never seen a feather on a Viking helmet. Did you mean war bonnet?

  • Luke_22

    Looking forward to delving into this. Such a reliable, hard hitting riff machine. Well summed up Grymm.

  • Wolfbite1970

    The Cave is my favorite on this album! Reminds me of King of Days from the last album! Although all the songs are amazing, it’s Pike brahs!