High On Fire
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 at 12:15am
SXSW: High On Fire With a heavy-handed approach and a sound that crashes like thunder, HIGH ON FIRE has put the power back in 'power-trio'. Less a band than a supersonic exercise in conquest by volume and sheer heaviness, the band has burned the metal rulebook and forged a new archetype. HIGH ON FIRE was formed by guitarist Matt Pike in late summer 1998. Formed out of the need to simply play guitar again, Pike jammed with and settled on a line-up of powerhouse drummer Des Kensel and longtime guitarist friend George Rice, who made the switch to bass to round out the trio. They had scarcely been together for a few months before demo-ing three songs. That demo, featuring 'Master of Fists' and instant classics '10,000 Years' and 'Blood from Zion', became among the most sought-after tapes in recent hard rock history. HIGH ON FIRE got straight to the point, bashing away with a Neanderthal sense of purpose and creating hypnotic, droning waves of powerful riffs and low-end thunder of the likes not heard before. Before the band had even made its first live appearance, labels flocked to get a piece of the trio. In the end the band chose to record with the Mans Ruin label and the demo surfaced in the form of a mini-CD in early '99, while they continued writing for their debut full-length. That debut, The Art of Self Defense, was welcome respite from commercialized rap-metal and warmed-over stoner-rock clichés of the time. The Art of Self Defense served up a rock hard, unorthodox form of modern metal cloaked in strange religious theology and the trio's style was unique, distinct, and absolutely crushing. Accolades poured in the world over: Rolling Stone, Spin, GQ, Alternative Press, Magnet, Chicago Sun-Times, The Washington Post, Village Voice and dozens of others publications. Almost overnight, HIGH ON FIRE was the unassuming heroes of the riff and the most celebrated metal band on the planet. On the waves of such massive exposure, HIGH ON FIRE hit the road. Europe was conquered and the U.S. was taken in two tours of duty. Summer 2001 saw Man's Ruin close up shop, leaving the band with no label and no distribution. Relapse offered, the trio accepted, and found themselves a new home and new full-length effort titled Surrounded By Thieves with gargantuan songs such as 'Hung, Drawn and Quartered', 'Nemesis', and 'Razorhoof'. Rarely had metal been as powerful and pure in its ability to translate primal fury and aggression. The now-legendary HIGH ON FIRE tour juggernaut celebrated with a marathon North American trek that saw them traverse the continent for six consecutive months with the likes of MASTODON, SHADOWS FALL, MOTORHEAD, SUPERJOINT RITUAL, and more, and a Japanese and European headlining tours. The touring was capped by the band being named one of Alternative Press magazine's "25 Most Important Metal Bands". In the summer of 2004, HIGH ON FIRE was joined by bassist Joe Preston (THRONES / ex-MELVINS). Preston replaced Rice, and made his live debut on a 14 city U.S. trek that concluded in Chicago, IL where the band entered Electrical Audio Studios with engineer Steve Albini (NEUROSIS, JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION, NIRVANA) to record Blessed Black Wings. Blessed Black Wings exploded onto the scene. From the start the band hit the road and traveled the world, playing esteemed festivals such as All Tomorrows Party (at the request of The Mars Volta), Dour (Belgium), Quart (Norway), Intonation (Chicago), Hellfest (France), as well as the inaugural Sounds of the Underground Tour. Additionally, the band headlined internationally with the likes of MASTODON, CLUTCH, GWAR, and many more. Preston was replaced toward the end of the touring cycle by former ZEKE bassist Jeff Matz. Blessed Black Wings was named one of 2005's best releases by Kerrang!, Revolver, Pitchfork, Rock Sound, Decibel and dozens of other publications the world over. Additionally, Pike was named one of rock’s “New Guitar Gods” by Rolling Stone. In June 2006, after a long, intense writing process, HIGH ON FIRE entered Seattle's Avast 2 and Soundhouse studios with legendary producer Jack Endino (NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN) to record Death Is This Communion. Matt Pike's unmistakable guitar playing and throaty war cry lead the charge, while Des Kensel’s massive drumming took on a new life, pushing the beast onward more urgently than ever. The addition of Matz added new dimensions to the band’s mountain of sound. From the rampaging 'Rumors of War' and 'Fury Whip', through the hypnotic riffs of 'Ethereal' and the album’s title track, Death Is This Communion was HIGH ON FIRE's masterwork. The world-renowned power trio has begun work on its long-awaited, fifth studio album and follow-up to Death is This Communion. The band will commence pre-production in Los Angeles with producer Greg Fidelman (Metallica, Slayer, Johnny Cash) and the goal of capturing “the ultimate High on Fire experience.” The new HIGH ON FIRE album is slated for an early 2010 release. When asked for comment, Pike states, “We look forward to sharing the dark seas of our new riffs and tragic stories. Soon the next saga of High on Fire's world will be known.”
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