High On Fire - Luminiferous (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

High On Fire

Luminiferous (2015)

E1 Music

Now more than ever, the heavy metal scene is a diverse, open-minded community thriving with bands willing to pull influence from all over the proverbial map; Post-rock, shoegaze, electronica have all been deftly incorporated into the genre’s lexicon in recent years. While those types of
records can cross musical boundaries and break new ground, often culminating in exciting, challenging listening experiences, sometimes it’s nice to just hear something actually METAL. High On Fire more than scratch that itch with their seventh (!) full-length offering, Luminiferous.

Much like their most obvious influence Motorhead, High On Fire have found a formula that works for them and they largely stick to it. Opener “Black Pot” is very structurally similar to fan-favorite“Rumors of War” from 2007‘s Death is this Communion, but no less intense. Newly sober Matt Pike sounds just as furious ever, unleashing his throaty screams riff after riff of pure fuzz-box-injected heavy metal. Lengthy instrumental sections on epic tracks like “Carcosa” and “The Falconist” have an almost epic black metal feel, recalling Sons of Northern Darkness-era Immortal.

For as fist-to-the-face intense as most of Luminiferous is, it also contains perhaps the biggest stylistic departure that High On Fire have ever taken in “The Cave.” The track begins with a melodic bass riff, eventually joined by acoustic guitars and Pike actually singing. The track’s bluesy-metal flavor sounds much closer to Pike’s underrated Kalas side project than anything in the HOF canon. It’s a quick detour from the usual controlled chaos of standard High On Fire fare that actually works in favor of the album’s flow overall. The group’s music has always been dynamic enough that the heaviness never became boring, but it’s great to hear the group try some new things after so long together. Even Motorhead had a “1916.”

Fans know what to expect from High On Fire at this point. While “The Cave” shows that they are willing to play with their formula a bit, just enough to keep things interesting, no fans of the group’s previous material are going to be disappointed with Luminiferous. While experimentation and genre-blurring can be fantastic, it’s great to have bands like High On Fire, along with contemporaries like Goatwhore, Skeletonwitch and modern day Exodus around, flying the flag and making no bones about playing 100% pure heavy metal.