Thursday 25 April 2024

ALBUM REVIEW: High On Fire, "Cometh The Storm"

 By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/04/2024
Label: MNRK Heavy

“Cometh The Storm” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. Lambsbread
2. Burning Down
3. Trismegistus
4. Cometh the Storm
5. Karanlık Yol (instrumental)
6. Sol’s Golden Curse
7. The Beating
8. Tough Guy
9. Lighting Beard
10. Hunting Shadows
11. Darker Fleece
The Review:
Heavy music has a fine tradition of power trios. It’s a great format for a band to cut the fat and simply go for the throat- or to expand into free form jam territory. Thinking about power trios, there are bands of both types in most of heavy music’s sub genres; from The Jimi Hendrix Experience to Cream, to Motorhead, to the doomy likes of The Gates of Slumber, the extreme likes of Dying Fetus, to the epic likes of Manilla Road (80s vintage) and on and on.
With High On Fire firmly in the go-for-the-throat camp, their closest classic cousin is Motorhead. That’s not to say there is no room for extended guitar freakouts, winding instrumentals or laid-back vibes… but it’s at that Motorhead on steroids sweet spot that Mike Pike and friends really excel.
After losing powerhouse original drummer Des Kensel, the band recruited Coady Willis, toured to get him bedded in and then embarked on the follow up to “Electric Messiah”. Can the band cut it and deliver another pummelling feast of noisy pyrotechnics?
Well, with Kurt Ballou producing, this was always going to be a sonic war of an album. Since he hooked up with the band for “De Vermiis Mysteriis”, the band’s sound has got bigger and bigger. Jack Endino did a great job with “Death Is This Communion”, but it is Ballou that has made his sound synonymous with the band.
“Cometh The Storm” sounds massive. Huge. Crushing. Very noisy. Very heavy. Crystal clear, as well! Of the eleven tracks, the band run the gamut of their repertoire. The opener, “Lambsbread” is ferocious, heavy and absolutely primes you for what is to come. From there, you get heavy and epic (“Burning Down”), noisy (“Trismegistus”), dynamic and rhythmic AND crushing (the title track) and so on… In short, the band is firing on all cylinders here.
“Cometh The Storm” has, perhaps, more light and shade than “Electric Messiah”, less aggression than “Luminiferous” or “DVM”, but has similar features to all three of those records. This is, quite simply, very heavy stuff and right in my personal sweet spot for heavy music in general. There is a welcome return for the middle eastern sounds heard on “Death Is This Communion” (“Karanlik Yol”), which adds a nice diversion into the mix and varies the texture of the record nicely.

At eleven tracks long, this is no short sharp shock- the band spread their wings impressively on closer “Darker Fleece”, alongside the aforementioned title track and “Burning Down”. The band even revert to their more sludgy roots on “Sol’s Golden Curse”, while simply beating the listener senseless on “Tough Guy” and the aptly named “The Beating”.
“Lightning Beard” here is a great exercise in rhythmic beatdown, while “Hunting Shadows” allows some melody and hooks into proceedings. By the time of the ten-minute “Darker Fleece”, my ears are tired- this is a beastly sounding record. There are a few tracks which allow for respite, but- to draw a comparison- much like Judas Priest’s “Painkiller album”, this is as heavy as things get. It is just unbelievably weighty.
Where this sits in the High On Fire Discography will be revealed in time, but the band have never put a foot wrong and have pretty much gone from strength to strength with each record. Now at the quarter century mark, they show no signs of mellowing, slowing down or changing direction. Much like Motorhead, in fact. So, great songs, great sound, good variety, relentlessly heavy… business as usual and probably the album of the year.
“Cometh The Storm” is available HERE

Band info: Bandcamp || Facebook