Down in the southern states, the winter of 2015 has been an unusually warm season. Maybe that’s due to global warming — or maybe it’s because metal masters High on Fire, along with heavy metal royalty Crowbar, spent the better part of this winter blasting through the South.
High on Fire have been working hard to promote their latest album, Luminiferous. They spent most of the summer of 2015 touring the U.S., covering much of the western states before heading to the northeast. Meanwhile, Luminiferous is being heralded as yet another grand metal opus, laden with riffs as dense as a neutron star and singer Matt Pike‘s growing interest in dark conspiracy theories.
I managed to catch High on Fire and Crowbar together for the last show of their winter tour, which was at Underbelly’s in Jacksonville, Fla.
The trio opened their set with “The Black Plot,” the lead track from Luminiferous, which is thick with imagery of aliens, hell-hounds and secret rituals. The song was also thick with massive volume as giant power chords screamed from the band’s wall of amplifiers.
Before the show, I actually heard Pike say he was turning his amp down a touch to accommodate the room. If he followed through on that, I couldn’t tell. Volume was the secret word that night, although the sound was balanced well. Jeff Matz’ bass and Des Kenzel’s drums were loud and powerful enough to solidly support Pike’s sonic maelstrom while letting his growling vocals come through.
I talked a bit with Pike’s guitar tech, Jordan Wagner, who I’ve known since we were kids, as he replaced the strings on the frontman’s Les Pauls. Jordan told me he spends a lot of time stretching and bending the new sets of strings before every show.
“Once he [Pike] starts a show, he usually likes to stick to the same guitar for the whole set. So the strings need to stay in tune really well,” Jordan said. “Plus, he beats the sh-t out of them.”
Before High on Fire took the stage, the legendary Crowbar got the venue steaming hot. This was my first time seeing Crowbar live, which made me realize how much joy in life I’ve been missing over the years. I hope to fix that in the years to come.
Crowbar’s most recent album, 2014’s Symmetry in Black, proved that Crowbar has been and today remains to be one of the best metal bands in the business.
If you missed High on Fire this year, you might be able to catch them next year during the Decibel Magazine Tour.