Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I know some questions were going around regarding what happened to the live High on Fire recordings from New York last year. Well, the PR wire has the answer:
HIGH ON FIRE TO RELEASE TWO LIVE ALBUMS
Pre-Orders Available Now!
Bay area titans HIGH ON FIRE will release “Spitting Fire” Volumes 1 & 2 on June 18th, 2013. The track list spans the course of the band’s history with hits like “Fertile Green,” “Frost Hammer” and “10,000 Years.”
“Spitting Fire” was recorded live in two marquee New York City venues; The Music Hall Of Williamsburg and The Bowery Ballroom. It was later mixed by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA with additional engineering by Kurt Ballou.
Multiple pre-order options are now available including limited edition vinyl bundles and iTunes .
High On Fire cannot be defined by their sound on tape alone. “Spitting Fire” is a vivid snapshot of the band’s massive sounding live show, which for fans who have yet to witness, are clearly missing out.
Volume 1. 1. Serums Of Liao 2. Frost Hammer 3. 10,000 Years 4. Devolution 5. Last 6. Fertile Green 7. Speedwolf
Volume 2. 1. Rumors Of War 2. DII 3. Fury Whip 4. Madness Of An Architect 5. Face Of Oblivion 6. Hung Drawn and Quartered 7. Blood From Zion 8. Snakes For The Divine
Considering that Atlanta trio Zoroaster‘s third album, 2010′s Matador (review here), followed about 16 months after their second, 2009′s Voice of Saturn (review here), a three-year break before a follow-up to their E1 Music debut seems like kind of a long stretch. Granted, in that time, the band had to replace a third of its lineup in switching out Brent Anderson — whose subsequent band, Order of the Owl, released their In the Noon of the After Day last year (streaming here) — for Mike Morris, and they did plenty of touring for Matador with Morris on board (reviews here and here), but even so, they’re about due for a new one.
It’s encouraging, then, to see Zoroaster in the studio putting together demos for a fourth album, and hopefully it won’t be too long before one materializes. The audio here boasts some of the most complex melodies I’ve ever heard from the band, so for still being in the beginning stages, they seem like they’re off to a good start.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sometimes it feels like every other post around here is about Matt Pike, but what can I say? The dude makes news as much as he makes noise. Fresh off coming in second in The Obelisk’s Readers Poll for 2012, High on Fire have been announced as taking part in this year’s Metal Alliance (aka Metalliance)tour, set to run from March 23 to April 20.
And it’s not so much the fact that they’re on the tour that makes it news, so much as the company they’re keeping. I know High on Fire and Municipal Waste have done shows together in the past, but it puts the Oakland trio in a way thrashier context to have them alongside Anthrax doing all of Among the Livingand Exodus on Metalliance. They’ve already long since won over lovers of the riff, so it should be interesting to see how they do with a more straightforwardly metal crowd.
Here’s the info and dates, hot off the PR wire:
High On Fire Join The Metal Alliance Tour
The Metal Alliance Tour is back and now has added the mighty HIGH ON FIRE to its already impressive Festival line up. The band has just completed their own very successful headlining tour with GOATWHORE and LO-PAN. Their latest release De Vermis Mysteriis by eOne Entertainment was garnered as one of the Best Metal Records of 2012 and winning the Revolver Magazine Best Video of 2012.
The Metal Alliance Tour is scheduled to roll out in March and continue through April. It features the greatest bands within the genre including ANTHRAX performing their fan favorite 1987 classic Among The Living in its entirety along with San Francisco thrash legends EXODUS, HIGH ON FIRE, MUNICIPAL WASTE and HOLY GRAIL. This is a tour will go down as one of the greatest shows to hit the stage.
General Admission Tickets will be available on January 11th but fans can now order their VIP Tickets. There are only 50 VIP Tickets per market and will quickly sell out. Each VIP Ticket will include the following items:
General Admission Ticket Meet & Greet 30 Minutes Before Doors Limited Edition VIP Laminate Limited Edition 11 x 17 Tour Poster Metal Alliance Beer Koozie Bottle of High River Sauce’s Hellacious Hot Sauce (The Official Hot Sauce of The Metal Alliance Tour) Issue of Revolver Magazine
Sharing the stage each night and crushing heads on the Metal Alliance Tour will be San Francisco thrash legends EXODUS, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HOLY GRAIL and a couple of additional bands will be announce at a later date.
3/23 House of Blues Las Vegas, NV 3/24 Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 3/25 House of Blues San Diego, CA 3/27 House of Blues West Hollywood, CA 3/28 Regency Ballroom San Francisco, CA 3/29 The Crystal Ballroom Portland, OR 3/30 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC 3/31 Showbox SoDo Seattle, WA 4/2 Summit Music Hall Denver, CO 4/4 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN 4/5 House of Blues Chicago, IL 4/6 The Fillmore Detroit Detroit, MI 4/7 Bogarts Cincinnati, OH 4/9 House of Blues Dallas, TX 4/10 House of Blues Houston, TX 4/12 House of Blues Lake Buena Vista, FL 4/13 Tremont Music Hall Charlotte, NC 4/14 The Fillmore Silver Spring, MD 4/16 House of Blues Cleveland, OH 4/18 Theatre of the Living Arts Philadelphia, PA 4/20 Irving Plaza New York, NY
Posted in Features on December 18th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess the first question here is, “Did High on Fire actually ever need to make a comeback?” Here’s how I see it: After signing with E1 in 2009 following a long tenure on Relapse Records, the Oakland, CA, trio released Snakes for the Divine(review here) in 2010. Song-wise, you could hardly call the album a dip in quality from what Matt Pike (guitar/vocals), Des Kensell (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass) brought to bear on 2007′s thunderous Death is this Communion, but the difference was in the production and presentation of the album. The songs were as thrashing as ever, but all of a sudden, they were also irrevocably, undeniably clean. And if there’s one thing High on Fire had never sounded before, it’s clean.
During the album cycle for Snakes for the Divine, I recall catching a High on Fire show in NYC and thinking that the band were done with the underground entirely, and that in time, strong>Snakes would be the turning point when they went from a visceral experience, influential even as they were still driving towards some yet-unknown creative apex, to a watered down and more accessible version of what they once were. Doubtless they could pull off such a transition and grow a wider audience for themselves, but for the fans who’d been with them since their earlier days when Pike, began to feel out this brash new musical direction after ending his time in Sabbathian legends Sleep, it wouldn’t ever be the same again.
That’s just not the way it turned out. At all.
With this year’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here), High on Fire didn’t so much return to form as they did break the mold, smashing it on a sharply executed bed of thickened thrash extremity. The songs managed to capture every potential appeal of Snakes for the Divine– whether it was the opening catchiness of “Serums of Laio,” the rhythmic intensity of “Madness of an Architect,” searing turns of “Spiritual Rites” or the epic storytelling of powerful closing duo “Romulus and Remus” and “Warhorn” — and coupled with the production of Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at his Godcity Studios in Salem, Massachusetts, they brimmed with tonal largesse and a sense of danger that hinted at a method behind High on Fire’s madness that had never been there before. To put a point on it, De Vermis Mysteriisdidn’t just happen by mistake.
Somewhere along the line, the band decided that their sixth album was indeed going to be a turn, not to a more commercial direction but instead away from it, and while the rough edges and post-stonerisms of early records The Art of Self-Defense(2000) and Surrounded by Thieves(2002) were gone, the progression came across naturally, not contrived. High on Fire were tighter, meaner than ever, and the songs the wrote, the presentation and the vague-but-characteristic narrative showed that. In the best case scenario of any long-running outfit’s latest album, everything they’d done before felt like it was leading up to the newest triumph.
All wasn’t well in the band, and dropping off the touring Mayhem festival this summer, Pike entered rehab. It was a move that significantly derailed their momentum, given the breadth of new audience they would’ve reached on the road alongside the likes of Slipknot and Slayer, but when High on Fire returned to the road for a headlining tour this fall alongside extreme metal stalwarts Goatwhore as well as Primate and Lo-Pan (review here) just wrapping up this week, the difference in the band was readily apparent. This too was a kind of comeback, even if the span of time was relatively short. They were focused, driven and delivering a performance that matched the severity of the album while also showcasing a conscious mastery of their environment — i.e. the stage — that even at their most crazed, they’d never had before.
Where High on Fire go from here is anyone’s best guess. European headlining dates set for February 2013 will lead into festival spots at Roadburn and doubtless others, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get another shot at Mayhem next summer — but what matters is that whatever heights High on Fire reach in the next several years, they will have done so on their own terms and by continuing to push themselves forward creatively. They will arrive not bowing to pressure to be something they’ve never been, but as the conquering marauders, axes in hand and blood dripping from their mouths. Nothing could be truer to their spirit.
Posted in Features on December 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
This wasn’t the first time I’ve spoken to High on Fire guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike for an interview by a longshot, but it was the first time we’ve talked since he got sober earlier this year, and the difference was immediately apparent in his voice. He was about a week into the band’s current tour at the time — with Goatwhore, Primate and Lo-Pan for a five-week round of shows one of which I was fortunate enough to catch — and things were beginning to settle in. This is the first major touring that High on Fire has done since Pike entered rehab over the summer after dropping off the summer’s Mayhem festival, and though he admitted to some apprehension, Pike sounded clear-headed and glad to be back on the road.
Earlier this year, High on Fire revitalized their approach with the scathing De Vermis Mysteriis(review here). Not only in the fact that the album was based around a narrative concept — about a time-traveling Jesus twin — but just in the sheer sound of the thing. Pike, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensell brought High on Fire’s tightness and chemistry to new levels, and captured by producer Kurt Ballou, songs like the arch-grooving “Madness of an Architect” or the ripping “Spiritual Rites,” the band sounded more vicious than ever before. The rawness of their bombast, something they moved away from with 2010′s Snakes for the Divine(review here), met with a maturity of process and crispness of sound that made the record easily among 2012′s best.
And while that position is nothing new for High on Fire — who’ve gone six full-lengths at this point without a real dud — the context surrounding De Vermis Mysteriismakes it standout as a landmark in the progression of the band, both musically and for the personal issues involved. Seeing them live last week, they’ve lost nothing of their on-stage potency, even if Pike is a little more reserved in his between-song banter — I was reminded a bit of his Sleep bandmate, Al Cisneros — speaking to the crowd rather than barking the war-cries of old. The tradeoff was in the performance, which was stellar, new material or old, and the band seemed poised to pick up their momentum right where they left off prior to the interruption this summer brought.
As honest and sincere as ever in the interview that follows, Pike talks about being on the road sober for the first time, about constructing De Vermis Mysteriis in the studio with Ballou and about the growth of the band as a trio with Matz — who came aboard as a full-time member prior to 2007′s Death is this Communion– taking on an increased role in the songwriting. You may also note I asked him about the Sonic Titan distortion pedal, which was something Jon Davis of Conan had mentioned earlier this year when I asked him about playing with Sleep in Norway. That interview is here if you’d like some context.
If the awesomeness of that Sleep promo shot yesterday wasn’t enough for you as regards Matt Pike visuals, I humbly submit the following video for High on Fire‘s “Fertile Green” from De Vermis Mysteriis, followed by the latest news on Pike‘s condition post-rehab.
HIGH ON FIRE Debuts “Over the Top” New Music Video “FERTILE GREEN”
HIGH ON FIRE is back! The world famous California metal band has announced that superstar front man and guitarist Matt Pike has emerged from his recent treatment for alcohol rehabilitation and is ready to conquer the world! HIGH ON FIRE celebrates by releasing the first music video from its new album De Vermis Mysteriis, for the potent track “Fertile Green“. Described as the “wildest video in heavy metal history”, “Fertile Green” was directed, animated and edited by Phil Mucci for Doomsday Entertainment (Passion Pit, Islands) and is a “frantic psychedelic experience” that expands on De Vermis Mysteriis‘ deeply mystical undercurrent and story of “the Christ Twin”, combining scenes of the past and future with “the story of Balteazeen’s sacrifice to the Oracle of Green.”
With a healthy Pike back at the helm, HIGH ON FIRE now prepares to bring De Vermis Mysteriis to stages across the planet and will kick off its global domination with a string of Australian tour dates in September. When asked for comment on how he’s feeling, Pike proclaims, “As I acclimate back to society, I realize the beast within is even sharper and stronger!”
HIGH ON FIRE tour dates: September 28 Melbourne, AUS Gershwin Room (www.oztix.com.au) September 29 Sydney, AUS Manning Bar (www.oztix.com.au) September 30 Brisbane, AUS The Zoo (www.oztix.com.au)
Posted in Features on March 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
[PLEASE NOTE: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.]
What you see above — artfully placed on my desk with a shadow in the upper left hand corner as if to remind us of the ever-looming spectre of Matt Pike‘s guitar tone — are three copies of High on Fire‘s newest album, De Vermis Mysteriis. I’d like to get rid of them as soon as possible.
The album officially hits streets next Tuesday, but the fortunes of doom have smiled brightly on my humble form and granted me these CDs for giveaway purposes. To win a copy, just leave a comment on this post and make sure your email is entered. If you win, I’ll email and ask for your address. I know I said this last time, but I don’t recommend you leave your address in the comments here. Call me paranoid.
If you’d like to know more about De Vermis Mysteriis, you can check out the review here, but really, I would think “Free High on Fire” is enough of a draw, so please, do it up.
Normally I’d let this go for a week, but because I want to give you a better chance of actually getting the CD by the release date, I’m going to pick winners Friday and mail out the discs Saturday, assuming everyone gets back to me with their address on time.
Thanks to all who enter, and thanks to E1 for the hookup.
[PLEASE NOTE: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.]
Posted in Reviews on March 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s hard not to give in to hyperbole, because listening to De Vermis Mysteriis, I absolutely can’t picture anything but High on Fire standing triumphant with a pile of skulls at their feet. Whether it’s Des Kensel’s war drums resounding at the beginning of the aptly-titled “Bloody Knuckles” – one feels inclined in listening to put out a corresponding track and call it “Bloody Nose” – or guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike’s thick, groove-minded swagger on “Madness of an Architect,” or the sheer grit bassist Jeff Matz puts into late-album high-point “Romulus and Remus,” De Vermis Mysteriis (released through eOne Music) makes its success complete. Front to back, it is confrontational, Pike reciting his warlord’s incantations of battles, Lovecraftian horrors and the planted weed that grows mankind – for that, see “Fertile Green,” perhaps the most lyrically stoner song of High on Fire’s career, masked by the band’s characteristic raging thrash – while he, Matz and Kensel tear through torsos like paper and assert their dominance over, well, everything. An alliance with producer Kurt Ballou, who also contributes guitar on the still-substantial interlude “Samsara” and the closing “Warhorn,” has resulted in a dense, pulsating atmosphere, and everything from the guitar to the drums to the balance of the vocals in the mix seems to speak to the singular idea of “big.” Ballou brings a similar level of presence as engineer and mixer to De Vermis Mysteriis as he did to Black Cobra’s excellent 2011 outing, Invernal (review here), finding an energy within High on Fire’s performance seemed lost on 2010’s Snakes for the Divine (review here). I said in that Black Cobra review that their record made “the last High on Fire sound tired,” which was true. Well, so does De Vermis Mysteriis. Snakes for the Divine lacked nothing in development of the band’s craft, but came across as more staid and clinical than ferocious or given to the kind of dynamics one hears here in the tradeoff between “Samsara” and “Spiritual Rites” or the even within the songs themselves.
That said, the fact remains that the kicked-up dust that seemed to cake High on Fire’s earliest releases – whether it was the resin-soaked initial EP or 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense or 2002’s Surrounded by Thieves – is simply gone, and to approach De Vermis Mysteriis thinking that you’re going to get it is flat-out the wrong way to go about it. There’s nothing regressive about these 10 tracks. In no way is High on Fire going backwards even to what I’d consider the high points of their Relapse Records era, 2005’s Blessed Black Wings and 2007’s Death is this Communion. Rather, De Vermis Mysteriis takes the lessons from those albums and indeed from Snakes for the Divine and develops them another logical step forward while also finding a presentation well suited to the band’s history, live show and current style, which no longer relies just on Venom-by-way-of-Slayer riffing to get its point across. High on Fire in 2012 are well at home in a variety of paces and approaches, and De Vermis Mysteriis is stronger and more cohesive for it. Each of these songs has a personality of its own that functions to serve the 52-minute whole of the album – which is the best case scenario for something that’s not based on an over-arching lyrical or musical narrative. When they pummel – and they do – that pummel is more effective for not being lost in an overwhelming mash. There is clarity in the songwriting, clarity in the philosophy behind the structure, and blood on the boots of the performance. Frankly, it’s more than one could’ve hoped for from High on Fire, who manage now to accomplish what they seemed to be setting out to do last time – incorporate increased melody while still maintaining their trademark and increasingly influential brand of heaviness. The album is the victory it declares.
As regards the production value, though, a band simply doesn’t get to where High on Fire are at this point in their career without being decipherable to the ear. What De Vermis Mysteriis does excellently, however – and given his past work, it’s something I’d credit in large part to Ballou – is present clarity as a function of the band’s take on heavy, serving the songs even as it enhances them. A solo break that starts roughly halfway into “Fertile Green” is even more raging for the crispness of Pike’s playing, and it seems he’s found a way to expand his vocal approach – something he’s been knocking at the door of since the days of his sans-guitar work in the side-project Kalas – without letting go of the visceral, guttural throat-searing that many have tried to capture but no one else seems to be able to replicate as well. He shows that immediately on opener “Serums of Liao,” which seems as good a point as any to launch an honest track-by-track look at De Vermis Mysteriis, with the ultimate hope of showing how through their individual characteristics, these songs come together to feed the whole. Here goes:
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 29th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Had to get this up here. Didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Pitchfork got the official premiere, but here’s the YouTube stream and PR wire whatnots to accompany:
World renowned hard rock band High on Fire will release its new studio album De Vermis Mysteriis on April 3 via eOneMusic. Recorded in Salem, Massachusetts’ GodCity Studios with producer and Converge guitarist KurtBallou, the 10 song effort — touted as “direct, eye-opening and powerfully supernatural” — is the band’s sixth studio recording and the follow up to 2010′s Snakes for the Divine.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I shit you not, this is a lot of news. But it’s High on Fire, and if they’re anything at all at this point, it’s familiar with the epic. Below you’ll find album release info for the Kurt Ballou-produced De Vermis Mysteriis and tour dates for the Rockstar Energy Mayhem festival, which seems bent mostly on hitting amphitheaters no less corporately-monikered. I feel like I’m giving away an awful lot of free advertising by even posting some of these names.
World-renowned hard rock band High on Fire will release its new studio album De Vermis Mysteriis on April 3 via eOneMusic. Recorded in Salem, Massachusetts’ GodCityStudios with producer and Converge guitarist KurtBallou, the 10 song effort — touted as “direct, eye-opening and powerfully supernatural” — is the band’s sixth studio recording and the follow up to 2010′s Snakes for the Divine.
De Vermis Mysteriis (or “Mysteries of the Worm”) takes its title from a fictional grimoire created by Psycho author RobertBloch and incorporated by H. P. Lovecraft into the lore of the Cthulhu Mythos (Lovecraft mentioned De Vermis Mysteriis as one of the books that “repeat the most hellish secrets learnt by early man”). The album carries a deeply mystical undercurrent, incorporating fantastical themes and lyrics detailing, among other things, time travel, a serum called liao that is made out of a black lotus and “a Jesus twin who can see the past through his ancestors’ eyes.” And that’s just scratching the surface!
Musically, De Vermis Mysteriis is absolutely explosive, showcasing the California power trio’s thundering roar and expanded harmonic and rhythmic palettes while the songs move confidently through multiple riffs and movements. High on Fire construct tough, burly stoner metal that is at once devastatingly epic and mercilessly metallic as superstar guitarist Matt Pike‘s sizzling ax and avenging-angel riffs fuse with Des Kensel‘s double-kick-drum onslaught and Jeff Matz‘s concrete crushing, Burton-esque bass guitar. Over the course of forty-five minutes, High on Fire have created an amalgamation of fantastical lyrical ideas and brute force musicianship anchored in an endlessly captivating, punkishly frantic sound. Simply put, the band generates awesome on demand and has a virtual chokehold on monolithic-sounding, masterfully crafted epic music. High on Fire is a savage bull in the china shop of modern metal.
When asked for comment on De Vermis Mysteriis, Pike somewhat cryptically replied, “Prepare for your dark journey.”
The track listing for High on Fire‘s De Vermis Mysteriis is as follows: 1. Serums of Liao 2. Bloody Knuckles 3. Fertile Green 4. Madness of an Architect 5. Interlude 6. Spiritual Rites 7. King of Days 8. De Vermis Mysteriis 9. Romulus and Remus 10. Warhorn
On June 30,High on Fire will join Slayer, Slipknot, Anthrax and more as part of the 2012 Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour. The 26-city jaunt will kick off in San Bernardino, CA and run through August 5 in Hartford, CT. The itinerary for the monster trek is as follows:
06/30 San Bernardino, CA San Manuel Amphitheater 07/01 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre 07/03 Auburn, WA White River Amphitheatre 07/04 Nampa, ID Idaho Center Amphitheatre 07/06 Phoenix, AZ Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion 07/07 Albuquerque, NM Hard Rock Casino 07/08 Greenwood Village, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheatre 07/10 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion 07/11 The Woodlands, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion 07/13 Tampa, FL 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre 07/14 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood 07/15 Noblesville, IN Klipsch Music Center 07/18 Oklahoma City, OK Zoo Amphitheatre 07/20 Maryland Heights, MO Verizon Wireless Amphitheater 07/21 Tinley Park, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre 07/22 Clarkston, MI DTEEnergy Music Theatre 07/24 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center 07/25 Cuyahoga Falls, OH Blossom Music Center 07/27 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center 07/28 Burgettstown, PA First Niagara Pavilion 07/29 Bristow, VA Jiffy Lube Live 07/31 Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center 08/01 Corfu, NY Darien Lake Performing Arts Center 08/03 Mansfield, MA Comcast Center 08/04 Scranton, PA Toyota Pavilion 08/05 Hartford, CT Comcast Theatre
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Admittedly, I didn’t see this one coming. After releasing 2010′s Snakes for the Divine, which had its blistering moments but ultimately seemed to be working to clean up High on Fire‘s now-trademarked dirty thrash sound, the seminal Oakland outfit have announced teaming with Converge‘s Kurt Ballou for the recording of their next studio outing. One thing about Ballou: Damn near everything out of his studio sounds heavy as fuck. The prospect of a new High on Fire record just got much more interesting.
Fresh off the PR wire:
Oakland, CA, hard rock band High on Fire has entered Salem, Massachusetts‘ GodCityStudios to begin tracking their as-yet-untitled new album. The world renowned group featuring drummer Des Kensel, bassist Jeff Matz and guitarist / vocalist Matt Pike (also of legendary stoner metal trio Sleep) is collaborating with producer and Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou on the new effort; the band’s sixth studio recording and follow up to 2010′s Snakes for the Divine. A mid-2012 release date is expected via eOneMusic.
“We are really stoked about recording this album,” said Jeff Matz when asked for comment. “The new songs are turning out absolutely punishing; there are some seriously sledgehammer riffs on this one! Working with Kurt has been awesome as well. He’s super easy to work with and is full of good ideas. The sounds that the guy gets are ridiculous and raw as f*ck but also clear and HUGE. I think this album will capture the essence of the band really well. It’s still early in the process, but so far it’s sounding amazing.”
Tentative song titles from the new High on Fire LP include “Serums of Liao,” “Madness of an Architect,” “De Vermis Mysteriis,” “Spiritual Rites” and “Warhorn.” Early reports mark the new record as “direct, eye-opening and powerfully supernatural.” More details on the album will be made available in the coming weeks.
There’s a new Saint Vitus song posted in the forum already, so I figured I’d bring my nerding out for the impending Metalliance show in NYC this Friday to this side of things with a quality clip of Crowbar. Filmed last Saturday (March 19) at One Eyed Jacks in the band’s hometown of New Orleans, here’s Crowbar as part of the Metalliance:
Posted in Reviews on February 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Released six years to the day from its predecessor, 2005’s Lifesblood for the Downtrodden, the latest album from Crowbar, dubbed Sever the Wicked Hand (E1 Music), finds the New Orleans sludge progenitors embarking on a full-circle turn of their own influence. With visual layout by Mike D. of Killswitch Engage, mixing and mastering by Zeuss (Shadows Fall, etc.), management by Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta – with whom Crowbar guitarist/vocalist/central-figure Kirk Windstein also plays in Kingdom of Sorrow – and a take on their traditional sludgy sound that seems at times to favor the kind of heavy breakdowns that the subsequent generation of metallers made their name on, it could easily be said that Crowbar are now under the influence of those whom they most influenced. Listening to a song like “Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth,” even acknowledging that the ultra-groovy breakdown is nothing new to the Windstein musical/riff-writing arsenal (he’s been doing it since the early ‘90s to great affect), on Sever the Wicked Hand, the approach is given a musical context it didn’t have even six years ago.
And why not? A lot’s happened in that time. The already-noted Kingdom of Sorrow has released two albums, and Down – the Southern metal supergroup in which Windstein joins C.O.C.’s Pepper Keenan on guitar – released their third album to huge acclaim and commercial success on the road. On perhaps a more personal note, Windstein’s sobriety is a topic of discussion lyrically on several of the Sever the Wicked Hand tracks – “Cleanse Me, Heal Me,” “As I Become One” and the title cut –and a song like the late-arriving ballad, “Echo an Eternity” seems to be not much more than your typical “rocker’s song about his kid,” if given the twist of being run through the typically Crowbar, slow-played, downtuned interpretation. That said, the lyrical appeal that runs throughout Sever the Wicked Hand, and indeed across Crowbar’s whole discography, is Windstein’s unflinching honesty. If what that brings out of his venerably guttural voice in 2011 is love for his child and his struggle to stay sober, I’m not about to fault him for that. I’d rather take what’s heartfelt than something born out of kowtowing to the expectations either of fans or critics.
Among the critiques I’ve heard of Sever the Wicked Hand is that, “it’s awfully fast,” and indeed, upon hearing advance-leaked cut “The Cemetery Angels,” I thought the same thing, even as that song breaks into one of the slowest riffs on the album for its second half. Tracks like “Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth” and closer “Symbiosis” offer plenty of the languid pacing Crowbar is known for, and I’ll go further to say it’s a myth that Crowbar only plays slow. Some of their greatest early-career triumphs – songs like “All I Had I Gave” from 1993’s self-titled and “Waiting in Silence” from the 1991 Obedience Thru Suffering debut – relied on the juxtaposition between fast and slow parts, and that holds true for the Sever the Wicked Hand material as well. Windstein at this point knows what works in Crowbar, and he makes good use of their solidified sonic pastiche on “Protectors of the Shrine” and centerpiece “As I Become One,” which breaks into a melodic guitar interplay between Windstein and fellow six-stringer Matt Brunson that helps break the intensity Sever the Wicked Hand’s first half and set up the 3:45 ambient interlude “A Farewell to Misery” – itself a launch point for the record’s back end.
Posted in Features on January 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’d have done a 2011 list earlier, but honestly, after the massiveness that was the top 20 countdown, I needed a break from all the list-type stuff. Next thing I knew, January was more than halfway over and no predictions had yet been made about what some of the best things to come would be. Just shameful.
This is just going to be a two-parter, and I’m keeping it to five albums on each list for a total of 10 records to look forward to in 2011. If that’s not enough for you, well, stay tuned, because I’m sure there’s going to be plenty more than 10 reviews posted this year. Hell, I think there already have been, so there you go.
The reason these are “the sure bets” is because I’ve already heard them and know they rule. Let’s get to it:
Lo-Pan, Salvador: The Ohio four-piece’s Small Stone label debut full-length has “classic” written all over it. I heard some rough mixes back in December and I’ve heard some less-rough mixes now, and I honestly haven’t felt this way about a straightforward stoner rock record since I heard the first Sasquatch album in 2004. The songwriting is brilliant, the performances masterful and the production stellar. You’re gonna shit when you hear “Chichen Itza” and “Deciduous.”
Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand: It’s kind of funny, but Crowbar influenced a whole younger generation of bands and on Sever the Wicked Hand, it sounds like that younger generation has re-influenced Crowbar, or at least reminded them of what they do best. Some of the material on Sever the Wicked Hand is a little fast, but there are some real quality tracks, and at this point it’s been so long I’m just glad they have a new record out.
Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I: Part one in a series of two new works by Earth , Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) brings cello accompaniment to Dylan Carlson‘s trademark drone guitar, filling out the sound with a subtle and melodic lushness it’s never before had. Earth are never going to be for everyone, but their latest should delight longtime fans and catch a couple newcomers as well.
Weedeater, Jason… the Dragon: Sludge meets swampy Southern blues on the latest record from the North Carolinian outfit which, like Earth, will be released via Southern Lord in March. Their sound is as nasty as ever, but there’s evidence of stylistic branching out in songs like “Homecoming” and “Palms of Opium,” and it’s exciting to hear the band trying new things, especially when they work. Full review is here.
Six Organs of Admittance, Asleep on the Floodplain: I’ve been a nerd for this Ben Chasny solo project for a number of years now, and on his new record, which is due out on Drag City on Feb. 22, the Comets on Fire guitarist does away with some of the psychedelic and/or droning aspects of the last couple albums in favor of a return to acoustic solo-songwriter material. Translation: He’s right in his element. More to come.
Tomorrow we’ll do Pt. 2, which will be full of pure speculation, and thus a lot of fun.
If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to have Kirk Windstein yell at you with his hood up while standing at the bottom of a stone staircase (and who hasn’t?), ArtistDirect just debuted this new video for the track “The Cemetery Angels” off Crowbar‘s upcoming release, Sever the Wicked Hand. Heavy: