High on Fire descended upon a packed Grog Shop Friday night on top of a diverse three-band hard-rock bill and staked a powerful claim to the heavy metal throne with an hour-long display of brutally intelligent music.
Singer and guitarist extraordinaire Matt Pike is finally starting to show some signs of wear and tear on his face after about two decades of nonstop touring. So maybe he's not literally immortal. We watched him effortlessly switch from the slower, spacier stoner-rock of the recent Sleep reunion to High on Fire's relentless heavy metal in the space of just a few weeks. So we'd have to say he's probably at least a demi-god.
Pike, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz delivered a set of complex, uptempo epic tracks largely pulled from their latest album, Snakes for the Divine. Also, this was the best sound mix I've ever heard from them. The newfound clarity revealed the deep grooves in music that sometimes gets muddy and relies on fans' memories in concert.
The audience ate it up, letting all their work-week frustrations out without beating each other up too badly.
Torche opened up with a set of really intelligent brain-rock that's easy to respect but lacks some sort of gut-level charisma. —Matthew Wilkening
Did you go to the show? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments.
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