• Matt Pike Is My Hero

    Apr 14 2010, 10:24

    Sun 11 Apr – High on Fire, Priestess, Black Cobra, Bison B.C.

    Doors opened around 8 and Bison B.C. took the stage soon after. Based on their promo pics I was expecting them to be a bunch of hipsters but instead the impression that I got was that they're a group of people very, very into drugs. Their equipment was all beat to shit. Both guitars and the bass were First Act Wal-Mart specials; the bass was duct-taped together and missing the high string and its tuning peg. Really enjoyed the bands heavy stoner riffing though the later songs in the set incorporated more post-metal types of segments (although the sound was consistently heavy and rooted in stoner metal riffing). During the second song or so the bassist (who played with a pick and played a lot of chords) was lurching all around and I was kind of afraid he wasn't going to make it through the set. He did fall into a monitor at one point and broke his low string though he managed to translate the riffs and swap basses (switching from his First Act to a similar beat-to-shit Epiphone) without screwing up the song, which was pretty neat. That madman bassist was the most interesting part of the set and took it from pretty enjoyable to genuinely entertaining.

    Black Cobra came on next. Good god that drummer beats the living hell out of his drums. I was really surprised he only broke one stick during the set. I'm not really familiar with the band's work, having only heard a few scattered songs here and there, but the impression I got is that the duo seemed determined to fill up any "holes" in their sound that might be created due to there only being two people in the band. Standard punk and rock drumbeats had all the empty space filled with thundering toms and Landrian's guitar work, which would have been something like a slightly more chaotic sludge, had its gaps filled in with open-string rumbling. The band never said a word and never took breathers between songs and the result was a straight blast of fury. Definitely one of those "why the HELL haven't I listened to this band before?" kind of moments. If Black Cobra are capable of coming anywhere near this level of rage and fury recorded as they did live, I'll be a happy man. Their set was definitely an unexpected highlight.

    Priestess, well. They played well, at least. The drummer and rhythm guitarist had a lot of charisma and great stage presence but the frontman and bassist seemed bored to tears. What didn't help is that so was I, through the first half of their set anyway. Slightly stoner-flavored classic rock worship, really. The frontman could lay down some interesting lead work but the guitars were pretty quiet in the mix (probably didn't help that I was directly in front of the bass stack, I guess). After the brutal assault of Black Cobra this band just seemed so safe and tame by comparison. Luckily, I guess they loaded the back half of their set with some of their faster, more metal-oriented material that was a hell of a lot more fun than mid-tempo pseudo-balladry. I get a feeling this band might be pretty popular outside of metal circles so who knows where their sound will go but hopefully they'll take the crowd's positive feedback to their more aggressive (and better) material to heart for future recordings.

    High on Fire. What can you say, really? They played flawlessly (and yes, Matt Pike's ridiculously chaotic soloing counts ans flawless musicianship in this context). The stuff off of the new album was AWESOME in the live context where you can really compare the band's material song-for-song without having to deal with production discrepancies. I don't remember the exact song order, but these are the songs even if the order isn't quite right: "Frosthammer," "Devilution," "How Dark We Pray," "Yeti," "Rumors of War," "Fire, Flood and Plague," "Hung, Drawn and Quartered," "Fireface," "Cometh Down Hessian," "Blood From Zion," "Snakes for the Divine," "Bastard Samurai," and closer "Fury Whip." I would have liked to hear "Baghdad," "10,000 Years," and "Death Is This Communion" but otherwise the setlist was fantastic. Matt Pike played his 9-string First Act the whole time (he used a different black one that was in a drop tuning for Bastard Samurai) which surprised me because I thought he tended to play Gibsons live. Jeff used a 12-string bass for some songs which was pretty cool. Des laid down an avalanche of drums as you'd expect him to. Basically, if you get an ounce of enjoyment out of High on Fire on record, you'll get ten tons of fucking AWESOME by seeing them live.

    Definitely a tour worth seeing.

    (originally posted on the Metal Archives forum's Live Reviews thread)