Saviours on Tour Now with C.O.C., Brant Bjork and Mothership

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

saviours (Photo by Rick Rodney)

I said at some point after all this madness began that I would probably be posting the same tour dates from the four different perspectives of the four bands involved, and as of this post, I’ve done just that. First was Corrosion of Conformity (posted here), then came Brant Bjork (posted here), the Mothership (posted here), and now Saviours. Think maybe I’m trying to get the point across that this tour is fucking awesome? Yeah, maybe.

As fate would have it, the run is underway now. Saviours are on it supporting their new album, Palace of Vision (review forthcoming), which is out on Listenable Records. They have a couple off-night headlining gigs booked as well, and more dates after the Monsters of Riff is done, so as you peruse the PR wire info below, don’t expect just the same old list.

Dig it:

look at this frickin tour

SAVIOURS: North American Tour With Corrosion Of Conformity Underway

Still building upon the foundation that Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Motörhead laid decades prior, California volume abusers, SAVIOURS, enters their second decade in a new partnership with Listenable Records and their long anticipated new full-length, Palace Of Vision.

Rooted in hardcore punk but preferring to cruise in outer space, SAVIOURS have always brought an infectious swing and swagger to their forward-charging heavy metal. The band melds the prime tenets of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, progressive rock, and proto-doom, and delivers it all with a snarling, West Coast hardcore edge. The result is a rugged beast of a sound that is singularly SAVIOURS.

Palace Of Vision is the band’s first proper full-length in four years and picks up where the molten manifestations of 2011’s Death’s Procession left off, spewing forth nine fiery tracks of towering riffs, monolithic rhythms, infectious guitar harmonies and an obsession with the end of times, the occult, psychedelics and the arcane. From fast-paced road ragers to lumbering doom pounders, SAVIOURS’ Palace Of Vision is perpetually hell-bent on taking listeners away to an entirely new dimension of volume abuse.

Following the release of Palace Of Vision, SAVIOURS will kick off a North American Fall tour supporting Corrosion Of Conformity and Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band. The trek will commence on November 16th and run through December 10th with additional support provided by Mothership. From there the band will level ten more stages from December 11th to December 20th to close out the year.

SAVIOURS w/ Corrosion Of Conformity, Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band, Mothership:
11/18/2015 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
11/19/2015 High Water Marl – Portland, OR * SAVIOURS only
11/20/2015 Venue Nightclub – Vancouver, BC
11/21/2015 Neumo’s – Seattle, WA
11/23/2015 The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
11/24/2015 The Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
11/25/2015 Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
11/27/2015 Rtr 20 – Racine, WI
11/28/2015 The Odeon – Cleveland, OH
11/29/2015 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
11/30/2015 Firehouse Saloon – Rochester, NY * SAVIOURS only
12/01/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON
12/02/2015 Machine Shop – Flint, MI
12/03/2015 Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
12/04/2015 Gramercy Theater – New York, NY
12/05/2015 Brighton Music Hall – Allston, MA
12/07/2015 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
12/08/2015 Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
12/09/2015 Shaka’s Live – Virginia Beach, VA
12/10/2015 Lincoln Theatre – Raleigh, NC

SAVIOURS Headlining Dates:
12/11/2015 The 529 – Atlanta, GA
12/12/2015 The Nick – Birmingham, AL
12/13/2015 Siberia – New Orleans, OR
12/14/2015 Boondocks – Houston, TX
12/15/2015 611 E. 7th – Austin, TX
12/16/2015 Three Links – Dallas, TX
12/18/2015 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM
12/19/2015 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ
12/20/2015 All Star Lanes – Los Angeles, CA

Since the 2005 release of their debut EP, Warship, SAVIOURS has worked relentlessly, touring North America, Europe, and Japan with the likes of Mastodon, Corrosion Of Conformity, The Sword, High On Fire, Saint Vitus and Clutch. In just a few short years, SAVIOURS had risen to become stalwarts of the world’s metal scene, ambassadors of an aggressive-yet-stoned West Coast vibe, inspired by the ‘70s but totally real and relevant in 2015.

Palace Of Vision was captured at Type Foundry in Portland, Oregon with Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Taurus, Ommadon etc.) and comes sheathed in the fittingly dark, intricately transfixing cover renderings of Derrick Snodgrass (Obliterations, Lecherous Gaze).

Saviours, “Palace of Vision”

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High on Fire Touring Australia/New Zealand in Feb.; North American Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

high on fire (Photo by Jimmy Hubbard)

In about two months’ time, High on Fire will cover ground on two sides of the planet. It’s not their first time in either territory, of course, but a pretty impressive feat when one considers the amount of geography they’re taking on and the fact that 18 years on from getting together, they continue to tour like 20-year-old punk rockers. Their latest, Luminiferous (review here), is out on eOne Music, but you’re already well aware of that, because it’s High on Fire. They may be a known quality, but that doesn’t make their live show any less devastating.

They hit Australia and New Zealand in February, and are back in the US in March to take part in the Decibel tour with Abbath. I cobbled together details from the PR wire:

high on fire tour

HIGH ON FIRE to Join 2016 Decibel Magazine Tour; Lineup + Dates Announced

Legendary California Metal Band, Abbath, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation Unite for All-Star North American Trek

Life is Noise presents: AUSTRALIA + NEW ZEALAND TOUR FEBRUARY 2016

Heavy music giants HIGH ON FIRE will tour North America as part of the 2016 Decibel Magazine Tour, set to launch March 17 in Baltimore, MD. Joining HIGH ON FIRE on the bill will be Sweden’s Tribulation, Ohio’s Skeletonwitch and Abbath (former frontman of Norwegian black metal legends, Immortal). The month-long trek will run through April 15 in Philadelphia, PA.

High on Fire have always been a band best consumed in the flesh. Their live show is an invigorating display of three world-class musicians at their creative peak. These songs erupt with unparalleled ferocity on stage. Pike’s mastery of the guitar is a sight to behold – he’s the kind of talent we’ll be talking about in the heavy metal canon for decades to come. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most powerful live bands on the planet.

See High on Fire crush skulls and melt faces on the following dates:
Perth – Rosemount Hotel – Wednesday, February 17
Adelaide – Fowler’s – Thursday, February 18
Melbourne – Max Watt’s – Friday, February 19
Sydney – Manning Bar – Saturday, February 20
Brisbane – Crowbar – Sunday, February 21
Auckland – Kings Arms – Tuesday, February 23
Presented with Under the Radar.

2016 DECIBEL Magazine Tour Dates
Featuring Abbath, High on Fire, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation
March 17 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
March 18 Charlotte, NC Amos’ Southend
March 19 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
March 20 Ybor City, FL The Ritz Ybor
March 22 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live!
March 23 Austin, TX Emo’s
March 25 Scottsdale, AZ Live Wire
March 26 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park
March 27 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
March 28 Los Angeles, CA The Regent Theater DTLA
March 29 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
March 31 Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
April 1 Seattle, WA El Corazon
April 2 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
April 5 Denver, CO Gothic Theatre
April 6 Lawrence, KS Granada Theater
April 7 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Night
April 8 Chicago, IL – Metro
April 9 Cleveland, OH Agora Ballroom
April 10 Toronto, ON The Opera House
April 12 New York, NY Webster Hall
April 14 Boston, MA Royale
April 15 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer

High on Fire on Spotify

High on Fire, Luminiferous (2015)

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High on Fire and Crowbar Announce Southeastern Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

I can’t imagine High on Fire and Crowbar are going to run into too many complaints about this one. “Oh no, don’t tour together. Anything but that.” Actually, scrap that. They are going to run into complaints. Lots of them. From everywhere they’re not playing. Because now that I think about it, this is a run that should really go nationwide. They’re labelmates on eOne, and it only seems reasonable that two bands as thoroughly devastating should bring their combined pummel to as many suspecting and unsuspecting skulls as possible. Maybe it’s a precursor to a full US tour? Maybe the South just gets lucky this time around.

From what I hear, Crowbar are headed back overseas in the New Year. More on that to come. Till then, this is fresh off the PR wire:

high on fire and crowbar

HIGH ON FIRE Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Legendary Metal Band’s Late Autumn Trek to Feature Support from Crowbar

Universally celebrated, heavy metal power trio HIGH ON FIRE has announced U.S. tour dates in support of its new album, Luminiferous. The trek will launch on December 10 in Nashville, TN and will feature support from New Orleans’ sludge kings, Crowbar.

The just-announced headlining live dates are as follows:

HIGH ON FIRE tour dates:
December 10 Nashville, TN Exit / In
December 11 Chattanooga, TN Revelry Room
December 12 Durham, NC Motorco
December 13 Charleston, SC The Music Farm
December 15 Orlando, FL The Social
December 16 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Culture Room
December 17 Ybor City, FL The Orpheum
December 18 Gainesville, FL The Wooly
December 19 Jacksonville, FL Underbelly

HIGH ON FIRE’s new album, Luminiferous, was released on June 23 via eOne Music and, in the time since, has been praised as one of the strongest moments of the award-winning band’s career. Recorded at Salem, Massachusetts’ GodCity Studios with producer Kurt Ballou.

High on Fire, “The Black Plot” live in New Orleans, 2015

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Golden Void, Berkana: Whirling

Posted in Reviews on September 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

golden void berkana

Among the most striking aspects of the 2012 self-titled Golden Void debut (review here), was just how distinct it was in personality from Earthless despite the presence of Isaiah Mitchell on vocals and guitar. Known for the blow-the-roof-off sprawl and classic rocking righteousness of the latter instrumental outfit, Golden Void‘s Golden Void was by and large a humbler affair, and as their second album for Thrill Jockey, Berkana follows suit on a stylistic level. The lineup of Mitchell, keyboardist Camilla Saufley-Mitchell (also of The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound), bassist Aaron Morgan and drummer Justin Pinkerton returns, and though the core of Golden Void‘s sound remains intact, it’s not as though they’re mere continuing along the same lines.

At seven tracks/41 minutes, Berkana is the same number of songs but a full six minutes longer than its predecessor, and one can find the extra time in the spacey wanderings of “Astral Plane” and “I’ve Been Down,” both casting a wide berth sonically still without sounding overblown or needlessly grandiose. Saufley-Mitchell adds backing vocals on “Silent Season” and the aforementioned “Astral Plane,” and the hooks are all the more resonant for it, the Bay Area four-piece finding a comfortable place between catchy craftsmanship and hypnotic instrumental meandering that gives Berkana a flow distinct from the debut and a sense of the progression the band has undertaken over the last three years. Recorded by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs) at his Louder Studios, the album retains a natural, live-sounding vibe that rests well alongside its overarching pastoral feel.

There is a deceptive amount of movement throughout. Across its span, Berkana stays relatively fluid — that is, there isn’t much to pull the listener out of the front-to-back experience, even with a side split between “Astral Plane” and “I’ve Been Down” — but the ways in which it keeps its momentum shift almost song by song. True to the album’s title, which derives from a rune of growth and fertility (also represented by birch trees as seen on the cover), it expands and branches out as it moves forward from the opening bounce and swing of “Burbank’s Dream,” weaving memorable impressions of itself along the way, whether it’s in a chorus or exploratory-feeling progression. It seems fair to call it a more patient record than the debut, but neither was in any rush, and as Morgan‘s air-pushing low-end fuzz begins “Silent Season,” soon topped by dreamy wisps of guitar and keys with some underlying tension in Pinkerton‘s drums, it’s pretty clear Berkana is constructed for headphones and tilted-head/closed-eye hearing.

golden void

“Silent Season” provides one of the more immediate choruses, building as it pushes through its five minutes but ultimately guided by Mitchell with a casual prog atmosphere. As happens throughout, that atmosphere sets up the jump into the quicker “Dervishing,” a song that conjures whirl in lyric and instrument alike, dizzying but undizzied, a mix providing enough depth to give a spiral impression without the band getting lost in the process. There are moments, as in the change from “Silent Season” to “Dervishing” and “Dervishing” to the following “Astral Plane,” where their holding it together seems miraculous when you step back and look at the ground they’ve covered, but the truth is they very deftly keep a foot in heavy psychedelia throughout, so that as far as the material seems to range, it’s never so far as to completely untie itself from its surroundings.

In that way, Berkana feels more like a complete album than Golden Void, but it’s more of a symptom of the progress of the band overall than the end-result. At nearly seven minutes, “Astral Plane” leads the way toward Berkana‘s immersive back half, side B opening with a companion-piece in “I’ve Been Down” as the two tracks provide, in a linear format (CD or digital), the record’s most satisfying chillout. That’s not to say either is a languish. “Astral Plane” strikes in both its chorus and the interplay of keys and flute in its midsection jam, and “I’ve Been Down” echoes the bounce of “Burbank’s Dream” without repeating it and breaks down after the three-minute mark to launch a singularly engaging ground-up build, patient, progressive and still drippingly psychedelic. At first “The Beacon” seems to echo its otherworldly vibe, but turns toward its own earthy, fuzzier vibe, more forward rhythmically and in Pinkerton‘s insistent snare.

One could almost call Mitchell‘s bombastic solo at the end snuck in, but there’s nothing sneaky about it, comprising the better part of the song’s final two minutes, teasing an end then kicking back in for another go and giving Berkana a due apex before “Storm and Feather” closes the album on a more subdued but not at all sour note. The slowest inclusion, it’s also arguably the most spacious, with what feels like an extra layer of echo on the vocals and a loose-head tom sound in Pinkerton‘s drums, expansive guitar and bass tones and a gradual swirl that gets brought to bear with a late arrival of overlaid Floydian acoustics near the finish. I don’t know whether it was Golden Void‘s intent to cap Berkana as far as possible away from the opening crashes of “Burbank’s Dream,” but they would seem to have come pretty close to that either way, showing on the journey between the two that the identity of the band is not only individualized but on its own creative path in ethereal space rock, more drift than thrust but still explosive when it sees fit to be so.

Golden Void, Berkana (2015)

Golden Void on Thee Facebooks

Golden Void on Bandcamp

Golden Void at Thrill Jockey

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Saviours Announce Palace of Vision for Oct. 30 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here’s one to fry your friggin’ brains: Saviours released their Warship EP a decade ago. 2005. In fact, the upcoming Palace of Vision, which also serves as their debut on Listenable Records after a long stint on Kemado, will be their fifth full-length album. Also their first in four years, but five records in a decade — actually nine years, as their debut LP, Crucifire, arrived in 2006 — is still a more than solid track record, and while I think the Oakland, CA, heavy thrash rockers remain a somewhat underrated entity on the East Coast, their material has remained consistent in its level of impact over that span, growing more complex without giving up its hard-hitting feel.

Their newly-unveiled “Burning Shrine” is the centerpiece of the Billy Anderson-recorded Palace of Vision, so presumably it will give a decent sense of where Saviours are a decade later. Release date for the album is Oct. 30.

From the PR wire:

saviours palace of vision

SAVIOURS To Release Palace Of Vision Full-Length This October Via Listenable Records

This Fall, California metallers, SAVIOURS, will drop the molten fruits of their new full-length this Fall via a new partnership with France’s Listenable Records. Titled Palace Of Vision, their first full-length in four years was captured at Type Foundry in Portland, Oregon with the inimitable Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Taurus, Ommadon etc.) and boasts nine tracks of SAVIOURS’ signature brand of towering riffs, colossal rhythms, infectious guitar harmonies and an obsession with the end of times, the occult, psychedelics and the arcane. “It’s a natural and logical continuation of where we left off with [2011’s] Death’s Procession,” said drummer Scott Batiste of the offering. “There are some doomy crushers and faster ragers.” As an added bonus, the record comes sheathed in the fittingly dark, intricately transfixing cover renderings of Derrick Snodgrass (Obliterations, Lecherous Gaze).

Palace Of Vision Track Listing:
1. The Mountain
2. Flesh Of Fire
3. Devil’s Crown
4. Palace Of Vision
5. Burning Shrine
6. Hell’s Floor
7. The Beast Remains
8. Cursed Night
9. The Seeker

In related news, SAVIOURS will bring their riffs to the stage with a pair of east coast/west coast fest performances with additional live incursions to be announced in the coming weeks.

9/05/2015 Cosmic Sonic Rendezvous Festival @ The Wick – Brooklyn, NY
11/1/3015 Day Of The Shred Festival @ The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA

Still building upon the foundation that Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Motörhead laid, SAVIOURS enters their second decade in a new partnership with French label Listenable Records. Rooted in hardcore punk but preferring to cruise in outer space, the lysergic of SAVIOURS hessians have always brought a ton of swing and swagger to their forward-charging heavy metal. The band melds sounds from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, progressive rock, and proto-doom, and delivers it all with a snarling West Coast hardcore edge. The result is an absolute beast of a sound that is all SAVIOURS’ own.

Since the 2005 release of SAVIOURS’ debut EP, Warship, the band has worked relentlessly, touring North America, Europe, and Japan with the likes of Mastodon, Corrosion Of Conformity, The Sword, High On Fire, Saint Vitus and Clutch. In a few short years, SAVIOURS have risen to become stalwarts of the world’s metal scene, ambassadors of an aggressive-yet-stoned West Coast vibe, inspired by the ’70s but totally real and relevant in 2015.

Austin Barber – guitar, vocals
Sonny Reinhardt – guitar, vocals
Scott Batiste – drums
Andy Anderson – bass

Palace Of Vision will be released via Listenable Records on October 30th, 2015. Preorders to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Saviours, “Burning Shrine”

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Neurosis Vinyl Reissues Announced for Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


It’s cool. Just two of the heaviest records of all time. Nothing too wild. You know. Pretty much business as usual.

For those who’d rightfully build an altar and worship them as the prophetic works they are, Neurosis‘ massively influential 1996 Through Silver in Blood and 1999 Times of Grace albums are being given a deluxe vinyl treatment as part of Relapse Records‘ ongoing 25th anniversary celebration. Colored LPs, new art, downloads in case anyone wants to actually listen to the albums, and a special version of Tribes of Neurot‘s Grace as well for that one cat who actually has two turntables and the time to sort out playing it simultaneously with Times of Grace, which, you know, I only make fun of that dude for because I’m jealous both of his two turntables and leisure activity.

A veritable parade of rightfully lauded badassery. Have at you:

neurosis vinyl reissues

NEUROSIS: Relapse Vinyl Reissues Announced

As the next chapter in Relapse Records’ ongoing 25th anniversary commemoration, heavy music visionaries NEUROSIS will have two of their most revered and long out-of-print titles reissued on super deluxe 180-gram double vinyl this fall. Through Silver in Blood (1996), which Fact Magazine recently deemed the #1 best post-metal album of all time, has not been printed on vinyl in ten years, while Times of Grace (1999) is seeing its first pressing in over fifteen years. Additionally, Grace, the 1999 Tribes of Neurot companion piece to Times of Grace, will also see a deluxe Relapse reissue, its first time ever on vinyl.

Each reissue will contain reinterpretations of the original iconic artwork and will be housed in heavy duty “tip-on” jackets and will be available in a variety of limited edition exclusive colors. The reissues are set for worldwide release on September 4th and will also include full album digital download codes. Preorders for all of the editions can be currently found HERE.

In concurrence with the deluxe reissues, NEUROSIS are preparing to embark on a headlining North American tour this summer alongside Neurot Recordings doomsters Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, experimental sludge/noise technicians The Body and sludgesters SUMAC. A full list of dates is included below.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/31/2015 Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/01/2015 Mill City – Minneapolis, MN w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/02/2015 The Majestic – Madison, WI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/03/2015 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/04/2015 Expo Five – Louisville, KY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/05/2015 St. Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/06/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/07/2015 Heavy Montréal – Montréal, QC w/ Mastodon, Meshuggah, Gorguts, Arch Enemy
8/08/2015 Paradise – Boston, MA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac, The Body
8/09/2015 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/10/2015 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/11/2015 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/12/2015 Broadberry – Richmond, VA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/14/2015 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/15/2015 House Of Blues – New Orleans, LA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Iron Tongue
8/16/2015 Warehouse Live – Houston, TX w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Pinkish Black

Neurosis, “The Doorway”

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Cavern to Release Outsiders Aug. 25 on Grimoire Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


The title of the documentary Maryland trio Cavern put together while recording their sophomore full-length for Grimoire RecordsOutsiders, is titled How to Make a Hit Record, so take that as an immediate sign that the post-metallic three-piece are willing to toss in a bit of charm with their dense, progressive riffing — of which two samples from Outsiders are now available for streaming in the form of album-opener “Garrett” and the title-track below. That same documentary also gives a look at the warehouse space where the guys in the band work cutting marble, so it’s doubly worth a look. Want to know how they get that big a sound? High fucking ceiling.

Cavern released their self-titled debut, also through Grimoire, in 2013, and I didn’t get to review it because I suck at this, but I remembered the band immediately on hearing they had a new one in the works and Outsiders sounds like it’s going to be a worthy follow-up going by what I’ve heard so far.

You can find the two-headed-hawk cover, the announcement of the record, audio and that documentary below, all scoured from across the mighty span of the internets:

cavern outsiders

Today we’re proud to debut 2 tracks from Cavern’s instrumental full-length “Outsiders,” out 8/25/15 in CD/cassette/digital on Grimoire Records! For fans of Russian Circles, Baroness, Zebulon Pike.. and highpriest.

“Outsiders” was recorded on May 9th, 2015 by Noel Mueller of Grimoire Records. Mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller/Grimoire Records. Art by Xavi Forne / Error! Design. © 2015 Grimoire Records.

Cavern is Stephen Schrock, Zach Harkins and Nick Harkins.

releases 25 August 2015

7/10 @ Metro Gallery w/ Rosetta- Baltimore, MD
7/18 @ Guidos-Frederick, MD
7/25 @ Delmar Bar-Hagerstown, MD
8/7 @ Rte. 22 Rock/Blues Fest.-Huntingdon, PA
8/15 @ TBA
8/16 @ Cafe Nola w/ Rhin- Frederick, MD

Cavern, Outsiders (2015)

Cavern, How to Make a Hit Record

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High on Fire, Luminiferous: Flying Above the Rift

Posted in Reviews on June 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

high on fire luminiferous

It is a fun coincidence of timing that High on Fire‘s seventh album, Luminiferous (released by eOne Metal), should arrive — a summer blockbuster in its own right — just one month after George Miller‘s film Mad Max: Fury Road, since the two works would seem to share so much in common. Not merely in their thrust or in the pummel and whirlwind they’re able to conjure when reaching a similar maximum velocity, but in the ability to balance the real and the unreal while doing so. Luminiferous is High on Fire‘s second collaboration with producer Kurt Ballou, and like the movie, its nine tracks/54 minutes are executed with minimal trickery. Real stunts. Sure, Des Kensel‘s toms and snare on second cut “Carcosa” or the second half of closer “The Lethal Chamber,” or that of “The Sunless Years,” or in the midsection of “The Dark Side of the Compass” have a war-drum sound to them, huge, thudding, but it’s not inorganic in its construction.

And while both movie and album can seem superficially at times to be sacrificing all else for the sake of the sheer badassery of their impact, High on Fire‘s latest is actually among their more progressive works, following 2012’s adrenaline-pumped stunner De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) — their first with Ballou — with more of a flow from one song into the next and likewise fluid shifts between tempos and flourishes of melody and emotion on “The Falconist” or “The Cave” to go along with all-out thrashfests like “Slave the Hive” or the penultimate title-track, which is sandwiched between the two longest tracks here, “The Cave” and “The Lethal Chamber,” both of which stand as evidence of the desire from High on Fire — guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike (also Sleep) and bassist Jeff Matz, in addition to Kensel — to continue the creative development that’s been there to hear all along throughout their 17-year run for anyone willing to look under the sometimes-masking layer of raw brutality.

Even if Luminiferous is better constructed and more dynamic overall than was De Vermis Mysteriis, its opening salvo is still geared toward finding out how big of a crater it can make. Opener “The Black Plot” has its hook but is among the record’s nastier thrashers, Pike following his guitar and taking a somewhat surprising melodic turn in the chorus vocally as Kensel and Matz hold together a gallop that’s as much of a signature move as High on Fire has. The subsequent “Carcosa,” which tops seven minutes and sets up the aforementioned later epics, dials back its pacing somewhat, but seems to use its extra time to make every forceful blow count. Vicious tonally but ultimately propelled by its drums, it finds Pike as the snarling conjurer atop the storm, a swinging progression well locked in by the two-minute mark carrying into a bigger groove that’s bound to test the tensile strength of many necks in its presence and which returns shortly as the bed for another a mix-consuming, about-to-fly-off-the-rails solo, though its ultimately Kensel‘s war drums that hold the day.

Matz, who joined the band in 2006 before they made what has become something of a defining statement with 2007’s Death is this Communion and is by now their longest-tenured bassist, has his moment in the midsection of “The Sunless Years,” stepping forward to match a guitar solo from Pike and continuing to hold attention even as the track moves back to its verse, offset earlier by a hook that recalls the marauding “Serums of Laio” from the last album before a slowdown once more brings Kensel‘s plodding drums to the front — though Matz gets his fills in there as well. Three tracks in, already High on Fire have given three different looks, but “Slave the Hive” (also released as a Scion-sponsored single in 2013) and “The Falconist” show there’s more to be delivered, the former their shortest inclusion at 3:50 and offering a thrashing viciousness rivaled only by “Luminiferous” itself on the second LP, and the latter an inevitably slower roll with the album’s strongest chorus, more choice low end, and Pike‘s boldest vocal in the chorus, “You can see my fly above the rift/And watch me dive and play the risks/You can see me flying/Watch me diving/From the wrist of the falconist,” as gorgeous and apt a metaphor as any I could imagine for the course of his career and stage presence both, though whether or not that’s what he’s going for, I couldn’t say.

high on fire (Photo by Jimmy Hubbard)

The centerpiece of the offering for good reason, “The Falconist” is as bold a step in the direction of accessibility as High on Fire have taken, and the emotion driving it feels genuine even as its harder-hitting edge is maintained toward an ending solo that seems to want to move back into one last chorus but cuts short in the end and makes way for “The Dark Side of the Compass,” the apocalyptic tension of which finds release in a chorus of lockstep lead guitar and vocals, the execution no less tight than anything before or after it, but memorable and all the more so for not being an immediate afterthought to “The Falconist” preceding. Feedback fades quickly to end “The Dark Side of the Compass” and makes way to the subdued opening of “The Cave,” a meandering guitar line topping Matz‘s bass and opening quick to an almost-psychedelic vibe, watery vocals and all. High on Fire‘s “Planet Caravan?” Maybe, but if they’re doing it, they’re doing it in their own style, the track exploding into a rolling, lumbering hook before receding again.

That tradeoff moves back and forth through the first half of its 7:40 run, the third verse and weightier chorus moving into a longer section playing off the latter before a cut to the bass and vocal line sets up the final, solo-topped push, the bass and guitar bookending with a last quiet measure, seemingly as much to lead into “Luminiferous” as out of “The Cave” itself, the immediate punch of the titular cut not to be understated even if it takes a about a minute for the verse to be revealed in its full, whipping fury. One could only accuse “Luminiferous” of being in High on Fire‘s wheelhouse, but as they have on many occasions before, they burn that wheelhouse to the ground, and where prior title-tracks have had more sprawl à la “The Cave” or subsequent closer “The Lethal Chamber” — thinking of 2010’s Snakes for the Divine (review here), the aforementioned Death is this Communion, or 2005’s Blessed Black Wings — “Luminiferous” is a turn in itself, being shorter and more outwardly intense in the tradition of “Surrounded by Thieves” from their 2002 sophomore outing of the same name. Fitting somehow for a band subtly, continuously pushing their own boundaries that they should round out with one of their longest songs.

At a long-fading but fully-used 8:50, “The Lethal Chamber” is second only to “Master of Fists” from High on Fire‘s 2000 debut, The Art of Self-Defense, in runtime — that cut being the band’s only one to-date topping 10 minutes — but its impact is made more in how they use that time than that they use it at all. Lurching groove and drum stomp in a timing nod not entirely dissimilar from Sleep‘s “The Clarity” take hold early, but of course the vibe is entirely High on Fire‘s own. They carry that march to and through a solo at the halfway point, some churn providing quick transition amid a flurry of toms from Kensel, who after making his presence felt throughout the entire tracklist leaves yet more bruises following a quick stop at 5:45, his hard-hitting approach and Matz‘s bassline serving as the foundation from which Pike launches an airier finale solo, the fadeout arriving less like the band are finishing out and more like the listener is leaving the strange, dark, storming world in which the end of “The Lethal Chamber” will still be taking place after we’re gone.

More about its reach than its catchiness, as were the likes of “The Black Plot,” “The Sunless Years,” or “The Falconist,” “The Lethal Chamber” underscores the multifaceted approach that High on Fire are able to take as they push closer to their 20th year, and one of Luminiferous‘ most satisfying aspects proves to be how naturally they seem to be able to balance an ongoing creative progression with trademark thickened thrash that, here as ever, sounds like it’s sitting on top of 7,000 pounds of nitro-boosted war machine. Hands down one of the year’s best, for its blinding turns, the obvious chemistry of the trio who made it, its songwriting and the lingering sense of work still to be done when it’s over.

High on Fire, “The Falconist”

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