So often in the modern day albums are polished, compressed and horribly over-produced. It is therefore genuinely refreshing to hear Spitting Fire Vol 2. It is the complete antithesis of this terrible trend, the pleasingly sour to the sickly sweet. Recorded across two venues and two nights in Brooklyn, New York at the tail end of last year, it is a live album that’s as raw as you will find.
From the opening chaos of Rumours of War, complete with an aggressive, demonic vocal performance, to the masterpiece that is Snakes for the Divine nothing has been unnecessarily glossed and adorned in a sparkly tutu. What you get is an honest live album of blisteringly heavy sludge metal – warts n’ all.
Performance wise, it isn’t flawless; there are several mistakes dotted throughout the record. Yet, these mistakes result in the album being a very natural, organic one. You end up submerged in the track’s atmospheres; prickled by the pulverizing electricity bleeding from the venues and smelling the sweat of both band and audience alike. It almost feels like you’re actually there, with a beer in your hand and your friends by your side while the band tears through monolithic grooves and earth-shattering rhythms.
And, like any good live show, the best is saved ‘till last. Closing numbers Blood From Zion and Snakes for the Divine offer anarchic beauty, riffs barking through Matt Pike’s dirty, distorted tone. He owns the fretboard. You can almost hear the shackles clatter on the floor around him as he goes up a few gears, getting into his stride and peaking at Snakes… elevated conclusion. As you ascend with him, it is blindingly obvious just why four men from Atlanta, Georgia were so taken-aback by the band’s live show that they would endeavour to form their own metal band in what would become Mastodon.
High On Fire are perhaps a band that have not quite broken through to the metal masses, still lingering on the stairs from the underground, but on Spitting Fire Vol 2, they have unparalleled raw, energy and enough killer riffs to climb those last few steps at long last.