AlbumsApril 14, 20244,823 views

High On Fire Cometh The Storm


Cometh The Storm
1. Lambsbread 2. Burning Down 3. Trismegistus 4. Cometh the Storm 5. Karanlık Yol 6. Sol’s Golden Curse 7. The Beating 8. Tough Guy 9. Lighting Beard 10. Hunting Shadows 11. Darker Fleece
2024 MNRK Heavy
Our score 9

4/14/2024

Take a look at the bands that have won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in the last decade or so. Amongst the industry cogs, novelty acts and elder statesmen who are well past their prime, one name stands out: High on Fire. The California trio doesn’t have catchy hooks, they don’t have a gimmicky image, and really, they aren’t particularly pretty to look at. So all that’s left for the band to have won their award on is the actual strength of their music—a novel concept for the industry at large—which they have been ripping out for over 25 years.

Led by former Sleep guitarist Matt Pike’s blazing guitar work and gruff, Lemmy-esque vocals, High on Fire have continuously put out top-notch recordings of sludgy, thrashy heavy metal. And like the Lemmy-led Motörhead, the band has been able to attract audiences from both the metal and the punk universes with their unique distinct sound. But also like Motörhead, High on Fire seemed to have dialed into a certain predictability and sameness from record to record. By no means a slight since their output has been superior to many of their peers, but by 2018, when High on Fire released their eighth studio album, Electric Messiah (from which the award-winning track of the same title comes), the band seemed to be locking into a stream of steady reliability. The days of having your mind blown by a record like Blessed Black Wings or Death Is This Communion were gone.

On Cometh The Storm, the three-piece seems rejuvenated, that electricity of the earlier material blasting through the speakers. That’s not say that they have done anything drastic. They haven’t added a synth player or played with an orchestra backing them—these songs are High on Fire through and through—but there’s a palpable energy that each song brings to the table.

This could probably be attributed to any number of intangibles, but one factor is a clear contributor and that is the addition of Coady Willis (Melvins, Big Business, Murder City Devils) on drums. Willis’ hard-hitting, tom-tom heavy style of playing complements Pike’s guitar riffs in ways that push High on Fire into a whole new level of sonic destruction. It’s noticeable immediately and throughout Cometh The Storm. The drums are upfront in the mix, and Willis’ busy percussion-work serves more as the engine of the material rather than an anchor, continually pushing the songs forward instead of holding them in place.

Pike’s playing is intense, whether it’s on the blistering, appropriately titled two-part suite of “The Beating” and “Tough Guy” or the odd-metered, grating Melvins-esque “Sol’s Golden Curse.” The guitarist just simply excels at both approaches, and when it comes his time to take a solo, blasts away any doubt that his heart is still in it after all these years. His fierce vocals may take center-stage, but it’s the clever songwriting and structuring of the songs that really make the material shine.

Bassisst Jeff Matz’ presence is felt as strongly as ever as well. His jazzy bass line gives an interesting feel to the solo on “Lightning Beard,” and his powerful low-end opens up the hard-hitting chorus of the title track. Aside from his adept bass playing, Matz adds hints of Middle Eastern melody and intonation throughout the album. Opener “Lambsbread” features a mid-song melodic break written in an Arabic modality, while instrumental interlude track, “Karanlık Yol” sees Matz playing bağlama (traditional Middle Eastern lute) on a Turkish folk song inspired piece.

All of this comes together perfectly under the sonic guidance of producer Kurt Ballou, who has his God City Studio dialed in at this point. On Cometh The Storm, High on Fire have written some of their finest material in years and Ballou has helped them present it with easily the group’s best overall sound. It’s huge, it’s pummeling, and it’s a standout release in 2024 already.

Bottomline: It’d be pretty difficult to pick one track from Cometh The Storm if asked. The album is best enjoyed in its entirety—and at a rather high volume at that. On it, High on Fire have upped the ante on what they are capable of. For anyone that may have fallen off the High on Fire bandwagon a few albums back, now is the time to hop back on.


14 comments

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anonymous 34 days ago

But is it ZULU 9?

anonymous 34 days ago

^What he/she/they/xi said. Zulu 9 or GTFO.

easyhateoven 34 days ago

a well written view with no errors? c'mon, lambgoat. do better

anonymous 34 days ago

High on Fire don't have catchy hooks?!

anonymous 34 days ago

Not reading and there's no way this is a 9 but it's still better than anything that dumb motherf*cker Eliot has ever done in here

anonymous 34 days ago

f*cketh The Eliot.

Bortslob 34 days ago

Great band, terrible review

anonymous 33 days ago

Pretty to look at?????

anonymous 32 days ago

lol. This website is just absolutely bottom of the barrel in every aspect, isn't it?

anonymous 32 days ago

why does this band get jerked off constantly, they've never made anything even remotely approaching a classic or memorable song

anonymous 32 days ago

High on Fire rules. Great review.

anonymous 32 days ago

Dude never wrote a bad riff.

anonymous 31 days ago

High on fire is the definition of "C's get degrees"

anonymous 31 days ago

sleep is still active and Matt Pike is still in the band. he's not "former sleep guitarist". he's current sleep guitarist