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High on Fire

Metal devastation: High on Fire rocks for the ages.
R. Laananen

The recurring mental image I get while listening to High on Fire's latest molten sludge-metal opus, Blessed Black Wings, is that of Lemmy Kilmister being strapped into that electric chair on the cover of Metallica's Ride the Lightning, then bellowing a soul-paralyzing shriek as the searing juice jolt smokes his gray matter and frizzes his greasy mane into a giant Buzz Osborne 'fro. And that's nothing compared to the California trio's live show. The fact that these three guys -- singer/guitarist Matt Pike (ex-Sleep), drummer Des Kensel, and bassist Joe Preston (ex-Melvins) -- can generate the sound of the planet getting broadsided by a shower of asteroids, and the crushing terror of 20-story stone beasts methodically obliterating everything in their path with each malevolent stomp, is nothing short of astonishing and core-draining. As the scorching air from the amplifiers pummels you, you'll feel like Gandalf tumbling into the abyss while locked in a death-grapple with the demonic Balrog. And you won't want it to end.


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