Three years after their last offering, ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’, California power trio High On Fire have returned to the fray with their truly gargantuan seventh album, the appropriately titled ‘Luminiferous’.
Everything about this album exudes the word “heavy”, from the huge ball-tingling bass lines to the humungous riffs which drive with the intensity of a biker gang with the smell of revenge in their nostrils and Matt Pike’s positively visceral vocals.
From the opening double-kick bombardment of ‘The Dark Plot’, it is obvious that ‘Luminiferous’ is a statement of intent from its three protagonists – and that intent is purely and simply to produce the heaviest motherfucker of an album they (or anyone for that matter) can. The rhythms produced by Des Kensel and Jeff Matz are simply massive: their unrelenting aggression is nihilstic in its approach – no needlessly extraneous frills and fills, but containing enough subtlety to ensure that the listener is left helpless in the face of its behemothic bombardment. There are moments of lightness, of course – ‘The Cave’ is a beautifully introvert and melancholic slice of psychedelic melodrama.
Pike’s vocals are superb, his full range being drawn out by both the density of the material and stunning precision of the production, which is both crystal-clear and dirtier than a street urchin when it needs to be, while all of the songs are brilliantly crafted, unremittingly hypnotic in their dense embrace and ultimately a magnificently rewarding listening that benefits more and more from repeat listenings.
At the top of this review, I referred to the album’s title as being an appropriate one. ‘Luminferous’, of course, means ‘light-bearing’ – and this latest HOF opus carries a torch for the redemptive power of good old-fashioned no frills doom-edged heavy metal, and also is undoubtedly one of the purest albums of its type you will hear this year.
The Dark Plot / Carcosa / The Sunless Years / Slave The Hive / The Falconist / Dark Side Of The Compass / The Cave / Luminiferous / The Lethal Chamber
Recommended listening: The Sunless Years
‘Luminiferous’ is out now via Century Music.