High on Fire's latest

October 2, 2007

High on Fire are often pegged as doom or stoner metal, but the trios fourth full-length is free of sludge and haze. More importantly, its sharp and in your face, like a scimitar. Production-wise, the band have climbed out of the bog of earlier recordings and entered a baleful lightbrooding low-end, crisp licks, and driving martial beats. Matt Pike growls about sacrifice and Babylonian goddesses with controlled ferocity, while his guitar ranges from crystalline melodies (the instrumental DII) to blistering WTF? runs (Ethereal) to puzzling avant-garde acoustic intros (Cyclopean Scape). As Arik Roper’s nifty swordnsorcery cover art suggests, High on Fire are high on atmosphere. But like a great first-person shooter, the spooky mood always serves the action.