Californian Sludge-Metal veterans High On Fire hit Brighton on this rainy summers night, as part of their first UK tour following the pandemic, and with Metal Blade Record’s excellent Scottish Post-Metal outfit DVNE in support.
DVNE were joining High On Fire for their English dates drawing to a close a near two month tour across the UK and Europe, playing with various bands which has taken in Desert Fest appearances in both London and Berlin, as well as the Freak Valley and Sound Of Liberation Festivals (both also in Germany). However they took to the stage with all the fresh enthusiasm required to still deliver a sublime performance, clearly enjoying playing on tired legs, and still an impressively tight act who’ve mastered their set on the road,which sounded great in this smaller club.
Their 45 minute set largely lifted from their accomplished 2021 album Eteman Anka, only allowed for a handful of songs, as each intricate track took its time to build, meandering through different tones. Flowing from crushing heavy sections and powerfully delivered harsher vocals (supplied by both Guitarists Daniel Barter and Victor Vicart), to softer melodic moments with cleaner vocals, interjected with sophisticated long passages of instrumental sections. DVNE’s progressive take on a Post-Metal sound with perfectly executed complex arrangements, has an originality that makes it clear why they’re signed to such a prestigious record label and are an in demand touring band.
High On Fire hit the stage led by enigmatic frontman Matt Pike, also of the legendary Doom/Stoner band Sleep, to a crowd that had swelled nicely within the venue, and for a three piece were able to create one hell of a racket! Kicking off like Mötorhead on steroids with a Thrashy-Punk style, they create an impressive cascade of feedback and noise with only two guitars, and the increase in tempo from DVNE had the crowd moving from the off. Matt Pike’s guitar playing was impressive throughout, with a loose phrenetic style to his soloing, clearly drawing inspiration from a melting pot of Blues, Grunge, Southern Rock/Metal and finely accompanied by the sludgy rhythm section of Jeff Matz (Bass) and Coady Willis (Drums).
The three worked the crowd through a set of short sharp cuts picked from across their 20 + year discography. There is a stylistic myriad of influence in their sound, delivered with a consistent high energy and a clear experience of knowing how to work a crowd. In recent years High On Fire have recorded with producer extraordinaire Kurt Ballou (Converge) in his God City Studies, collecting themselves a Grammy in the process, with their track Electric Messiah in 2019. But they are without a doubt an old school Rock & Roll band at heart, meant for the stage and delivering a performance with all the necessary enthusiasm, and with smiles on their faces that says it all comes naturally.
Words // Photos // Videos by Abstrakt_Soul
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