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 it's 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 were 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 with ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY in tow 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 has 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 Tour 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 the 20 best guitarists by Rolling Stone Magazine.
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 their long-awaited new full-length, Death Is This Communion.
Death Is This Communion is High On Fire's ultimate sonic masterpiece. Matt Pike's unmistakable guitar playing and throaty war cry lead the charge, while Des Kensel's massive drumming takes on a new life and pushes the beast onward more urgently than ever. 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 is HIGH ON FIRE's masterwork.
HIGH ON FIRE:
Matt Pike: Guitar, Vocals Des Kensel: Drums Jeff Matz: Bass Corrosion Of Conformity
Founded by three teenagers in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1982, Corrosion of Conformity began as an underground band and went on to transform heavy music, challenging boundaries and serving as what Decibel Magazine called "a crucial stylistic lynchpin in the bridge between metal and punk" that "irrevocably reshaped crossover's sonic possibilities."
Thirty years and many changes later, COC's original trio is back with a self-titled release for London-based independent Candlelight Records.
"Corrosion of Conformity isn't a comeback album or an example of diminishing returns," Invisible Oranges observed. "It's a testament to immense talent and the elusive endowment of staying power."
In the summer of 2010, COC's founding members—bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin and guitarist Woody Weatherman—gathered at Weatherman's farm in Virginia to get to work again after a five-year hiatus. With longtime vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan busy working with metal supergroup Down back home in New Orleans, COC began playing together as a three-piece for the first time since the mid-1980s.
That's the same lineup behind 1985's Animosity, widely considered a crossover classic. While the trio re-visited songs from that album and 1987's Technocracy, this was not just an exercise in nostalgia, and they soon began writing new material.
The original members of COC are excited to be working together again.
"Mike, Woody and I essentially learned how to play music together and cultivated our own style, sound, and unspoken language," said Mullin. "Re-bonding with them musically has been the greatest thing that's ever happened to me."