Album Review: High On Fire – “Luminiferous”

High On Fire
(eOne Music)

A lot has been made of High On Fire’s band leader, Matt Pike, of late. He famously sobered up from his alcohol addiction, and is famous for basically never wearing a shirt on stage. He’s also famous for two other things, both of which are important to his band’s amazing seventh album, Luminiferous. First, Matt is either very interested in conspiracy theories from a philosophical perspective, or he is a looney tunes-level nut job. Luminiferous is mostly about exposing the Elite and the way they control the world; there’s an alien connection somewhere in there because of course there is. That said, it just makes for some interesting (read: humorous) lyrics. The more pertinent skill Mr. Pike is known for is writing some of the best riffs in modern music. That hasn’t always translated into writing some of the best songs, though, as, notably, Snakes for the Divine was a fun-fueled ride, but the songwriting was lacking. Maybe it’s due to his sobriety, but Matt Pike and company have never sounded this good on record. Kurt Ballou’s always excellent production work deserves credit for making Luminiferous sound especially meaty. This isn’t tofu metal. This is 200 lb pig roast metal.

On that note, Matt Pike himself is due some more credit for the success of the album. Sure, his riffs and solos aplenty are wonderful, but his renown vocals have definitely improved and taking on a hint of musicality. Sure, his voice hasn’t suddenly become pretty or anything, but it has been given some weight and melody that is surely welcome. Matt’s sobering (literally) tale of his ride to sobriety in “The Cave” is especially powerfully told. Overall, this is High on Fire’s best work to date and will surely be worthy of year-end lists. Whatever the reason for the uptick of quality for this already high-quality act, it’s not all that relevant. Just like Mr. Pike’s silly views, it’s immaterial. What can’t be denied is that the almighty riff is king. In that regard, High On Fire will surely reign on High (or be high, whatever). (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase Luminiferous here: iTunes | Amazon

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