October 1, 2018 High On Fire – Electric Messiah (Album Review)
Survivors of Heavy Metal, Oakland, California’s Thrash trio, High On Fire – Matt Pike (vocals/guitar), Jeff Matz (bass), and Des Kensel (drums) – are stoked to announce the band’s eight studio album, Electric Messiah, is set for release on Friday, October 5, 2018 via Entertainment One Music.
For Metal fans new to the band’s music, High On Fire carry a raw, no-holds-barred, in-your-face Metal sound, comparable to Slayer but revved-up by the heavy Rock-n-Roll drive of Motörhead. Founded back in 1998 by Pike and Kensel, High On Fire released their debut album, The Art of Self Defense, on March 7, 2000. Many a Metal fan took a liking to High On Fire and soon the band was hailed in the same regard as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, and The Dillinger Escape Plan for their raw take on modern Metal.
Grown by intensity, High On Fire consistently release new albums, several of which have seen chart-topping success like 2010’s Snakes for the Divine and 2015’s Luminiferous, both achieving top five status. Needless to say, High on Fire have seen their share of success and should be known by more Metal fans. A worthy complement, Pike has often been compared vocally to Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. In fact, the title Electric Messiah was inspired by the longevity of Lemmy’s spirit.
In the studio, High On Fire once again hired Producer Kurt Ballou, with whom they have produced acclaimed albums in the past, to assist in honing Electric Messiah to meet the band’s need for a well rounded collection of new High On Fire material. In getting these nine new songs down, High On Fire challenged themselves, pushing to evolve as Thrash Metal stalwarts, as the band always looks to top their previous albums.
Getting into the thick of it, Electric Messiah is opened by a blast of Metal in “Spewn from the Earth,” a moment where the decision to crank up the volume will be executed involuntarily. In the first of several epically long tracks, clocking in at just over nine minutes long, “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil” obliterates via an avalanche of rhythm while praising the ancient Mesopotamian structure, and the associated god of wind, air, and storms. Paying homage to the man himself, Lemmy, “Electric Messiah” is essentially Motörhead on steroids, so fast, and so loud! Moving along, right off the bat, the ominous melody of “Sanctioned Annihilation” will cast a dark shadow over your hopes and dreams.
Telling the story, “The Pallid Mask” drowns the ears in a sea of distorted Thrash and then “God of the Godless” shrieks as Pike screams in bloody decor. The fastest song so far, “Freebooter” gives no regard to authority among a headbanging mist of sound. Thereafter, the unruly dynamics of “The Witch and the Christ” take it back to the early days of Thrash Metal before “Drowning Dog” goes back to the beginning via a mnemonic Black Sabbath inspired melody to close out Electric Messiah.
In thunderous form, High On Fire have yet again delivered on their promise to bring the people the best Metal the band could produce. To put it bluntly, Electric Messiah is one of those Metal albums a listener can crank to eleven and rejoice in from start to finish. Hard to believe they are just a trio, the band knows the way to Metal hearts as Pike’s raucous vocals and deafening guitar assault the mind alongside Kensel’s overpowering drums, and the numbing bass by Matz. That said, High On Fire’s Electric Messiah packs the knockout punch to please fans of brutal Metal. Top-notch, CrypticRock gives Electric Messiah 4.5 out of 5 stars.