CD Review: High On Fire – Luminiferous

CD Review: High On Fire – Luminiferous
eOne Music
All Access Rating: B+

High On Fire - Luminiferous 2015
Matt Pike's struggles with sobriety have been well-documented. If nothing else, the swarming, fire-breathing Luminiferous would suggest that his head is as clear as it's ever been.

Where High On Fire's previous effort, the violently turbulent epic De Vermis Mysteriis, seemed as if it was birthed in the eye of a violent hurricane, the latest album from Pike and his crew encounters its share of storms, but it rarely ever gets knocked off course.

There are exceptions, of course, this being Matt Pike we're talking about. The dreamy, psychotropic verses of "The Cave" trip balls, as mind-altering effects and vocal manipulations send High On Fire down the rabbit hole. Then come the slow-churning waves of skull-crushing riffs, enormously heavy and portending doom, as Pike's scabrous vocals cut through the seas of sludge like a man-o-war with a hull covered in barnacles. Meanwhile, "The Falconist," surging ahead methodically and relentlessly as it grows wings to fly, couches its story in a crawling, strong melodic current that's almost hypnotic, as High On Fire channels the spirit of Iron Maiden as they soar.

A raging, barbaric beast of a record, Luminiferous beats its hairy chest until its black and blue, roaring through the white-hot thrash of "Slave The Hive" and the album's furious title track. A direct assault, it charges ahead with little regard for whatever gets in its way, as High On Fire plows through "The Black Plot," "Carcosa," and "The Sunless Years" – the album's first three tracks – in succession, feeling the might and maniacal drive of its engine and pushing it almost beyond its capabilities.

It's a leaner, meaner and more focused High On Fire that emerges from Luminiferous; on the other hand, it's a less imaginative representation of the band. There's also a sense, at least half the way through, that they're stuck in one gear, unable or unwilling to deviate from a fairly predictable course they've charted. It seems as if Luminiferous is destined to be overshadowed by De Vermis Mysteriis, the sheer enormity and frenzied combustion of that record drowning in its wake all that comes after it. Still, with Pike's flesh-flaying solos and throat-shredding vocals, Des Kensel's pummeling drums and Jeff Matz's heavy, bombing bass runs, there is no more powerful metal force in the universe than High On Fire. Even if variety, insanity and unexpected maneuvers are sacrificed for pure power here, Luminiferous is another weapon of mass destruction in the High On Fire arsenal.
– Peter Lindblad

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