Typically if a band is from Oakland they are high on something. High on Fire seem to me high on adrenalin and they translate the urban angst of Oakland brutally through their music. Some may call this stoner metal but to me it sounds like good old fashioned thrash.
The new album “Snakes for the Devine” opens with an epic masterpiece by the same name. The band sounds incredibly full for a three piece outfit. The band continues to grind through warp speed chord changes and ripping leads throughout the second tune on the disk “Frost Hammer”. It isn’t until we get to “Bastard Samurai” that the stoner in this stoner metal bands shows up.
“Bastard Samurai” has to be one my favorite songs on this disk. It reminds me so much of Black Sabbath right down to Matt Pike’s guitar tone. Pike has been known to play Laney amps first made famous by Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. Pike like Tony Iommi also has been known to strap on a Gibson. In Pike’s case it is typically a Les Paul. Matt Pike also plays a 9 string guitar that was custom made for him by Boston guitar builder First Act.
On Pike’s 9 string guitar the bass strings (E,A & D,) are the same as any other guitar. The treble strings (G, B & E) are doubled like a twelve string. This is brilliant in two ways. It gives Pike an incredibly full sound; it also gives him a backup in case he breaks a string with his brutal right hand attack.
The band is rounded out by Jeff Matz on bass. Matz does an incredible job holding everything together while Pike goes off on never ending searing guitar solos. The drummer for this trio, Des Kensel sounds like Bill Ward and Neil Peart had a baby. Together the combination of Kensel and Matz make up the best metal rhythm section I have heard in a long time.
The album continues with thrashing rhythms and chugging moshpit anthems. It is solid metal end to end. I highly recommend this disk with the warning. ..this is really heavy. These guys make Metallica sound like Tesla, check out the video and see for yourself. If you are looking for a disk to give you a belt between the eyes, “Snakes for the Devine” is just what the doctor ordered.