High on Fire at Double Door | Concert preview
Metal trio makes a concept album about Jesus’s time-traveling twin.
It’s high time someone made a concept metal album about Jesus’s time-traveling twin brother. You know, the one who needs to save us from the tyrannical force of present-day Christianity. The guys in High on Fire are just the ones for the job, apparently. With half a dozen albums of increasingly devastating dark metal under its belt, and frontman Matt Pike’s deeply influential résumé—as one third of Sleep he made some of stoner metal’s touchstone records—the Oakland brood remains one of the genre’s most reliable purveyors of precision-guided doom, and a fearsome live band to boot.
Pike lets his obsessions with conspiracy theories, ancient aliens and Philip K. Dick run wild on the new De Vermis Mysteriis, an epic, horror sci-fi long-player. The concept may be half-baked—an interviewer for the Quietus stumped Pike when asking how Jesus’s brother could die at birth and then time-travel—but with High on Fire, that’s all beside the point.
Rather, it’s the armadas of tom rolls, galloping Motörhead-indebted guitar blasts and incredible shredding that inventively trades between equally powerful stomp box combinations—all delivered at blazing, but just barely intelligible, speed. Yet the group can lay waste to big rock convention with ease. On “King of Days,” the band leans back and grinds slowly from its fantasy rock throne. Those intelligent but unexpected changes in direction, and a confident command of the hesher arsenal, find three dudes summoning something that while not quite godly is undoubtedly divine.