High on Fire are back with their seventh studio album, and I’m pleased to say that the band are definitely not mellowing with age. Luminiferous is nine tracks of the heavy rock, doom and thrash metal hybrid that Matt Pike and co. have spent the past fifteen years perfecting. Equal parts early Celtic Frost, Slayer and Motorhead, with just right amount of Venom and a healthy pinch of Wino, shoved in a blender and then set alight. That best describes the sound of High on Fire, and though it hardly seems possible, the new album takes things up another notch from their previous effort (2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis).
The first two-thirds of the album are a full-on, raging grind of tom fills and buzzing guitar, topped off with Pike’s trademark roaring vocals. Things don’t really quieten down until seventh track, ‘The Cave,’ which has a softer clean bass intro and an almost clean guitar riff for the main verse with a slower tempo. This is only a temporary respite from the fury, though, as while slower, the song soon turns heavy again, reminding listeners that you don’t have to play at 200 bpm to sound heavier than the sun!
In recent promo interviews, Matt Pike was quite open about his beliefs and the lyrical concepts behind this album and the bands’ songs in general. For many years now, he has been exploring the idea that a great global cover-up has been carried out spanning thousands of years, dealing with extra terrestrials, forgotten ancient civilisations, mankind’s true origins and its subsequent fate. He was, of course, ridiculed and doubted online by dozens of cynical reviewers, but he is not alone in his perspective. Wino went through a similar phase a decade or so back with The Hidden Hand and faced similar doubts and criticism. Pike’s is a worldview that is growing in popularity, however as more and more people ‘wake up’ from what Pike calls “the waking dream” of their corporate-controlled daily lives and begin to see that there is much more to life than they thought.
I’m not asking you to believe that aliens are living in secret bases in remote areas of this planet and have been since the dawn of time (I’m open to the idea and have read a lot about it over the years, but it could, like everything else, be bullshit), or that secret societies control the world. They probably do, but you’re free to research that for yourselves. All I suggest is, you give Luminiferous a spin as soon as possible. If you’re new to the band, you have nothing to lose. It’s easily as good as their previous efforts, if a little lacking in variety. If you’ve followed them for fifteen years as I have, this is, of course an essential buy.