High on Fire
October 25th, 2010
Webster Hall, NYC
High on Fire is the heaviest band in the country.
Heavy (of music, especially rock): Having a strong bass component and a forceful rhythm.
Just ask Brent Hinds from Mastodon. He was hanging in the wings taking it all in. Coincidence?
Seekers of Heavy Music unite, listen, learn.
High on Fire played New York City’s dilapidated Webster Hall on Sunday night. Wet floors, cracked mirrors, punched-up walls. What a shit-hole. The perfect spot for Sunday Night Metal.
Two support bands; Kylesa and Torche, both from the South. Memorable, original. Hard and melodic. A way in, an honorable start to the evening.
The High on Fire stage is set. A simple black backdrop with the band’s logo. You notice the two bass drums. Nobody in their right mind plays two bass drums anymore. Poor roadies. Orange stacks too. Big ass cabinets. It’s about to get loud.
And then it hits. Like a howitzer to the head.
Furious, scorching. Absolute madness. Class A Nasty Shit. High on Fire is involved in trench warfare. They are killing their songs. Dead.
Two hours of this may be more than anybody in this room can handle. Even Seasoned Metal Vets. But nobody is going anywhere. This is just too fucking good.
“Frost Hammer” is a constant mosh; “Blessed Black Wings” an epic, demented death march. “Fury Whip” can go by no other name.
It goes on like this without breaks. Hard Hitting, Bad Ass. How did these guys get to be so HEAVY?
No joke; Hells Angels. Black Panthers. The 1970’s Raiders. Public schools. You know the deal. Shit goes down here. Heavy shit. It’s in the water, air, public transit.
And the show rumbles on.
A woman standing close Loses Her Shit during the solo in “Bastard Samurai.” That may be the only way to experience High on Fire. Lose Your Shit. In fact, it’s the only reaction worthy of a band operating on a level that is without peer.
Brent Hinds is taking notes.
Leader Matt Pike is a National Treasure. His music is eternal, elemental. His band appropriately named. And his guitar has nine strings. Subversive, absurd and most certainly illegal in Arizona.
The final song “Snakes For The Divine” contains what may just be the most brutal mosh break ever. You tell me.
The band leaves you drained, pummeled, exhausted, concussed. There is no precedent or preparation. High on Fire is it’s own nasty species. A flamethrower.
“One of the rare shows you don’t want to end.”
Amen Brother Steve.
“For each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.”
– Cormac McCarthy, from Blood Meridian
Fire: combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat and smoke. One of the four elements in ancient and medieval philosophy and astrology.
Photographs by the Rock File