High On Fire is the musical equivalent to a freight train with a steamroller on the front, covered in barbed wire and dangling a wrecking ball. Needless to say, High on fire destroys, they write consistently groovy, heavy and downright sludgy music that has a certain earthiness to it. The band has always shown that great riffs and pounding drumming can make an album far heavier than just chugging breakdowns and nine string guitars. Luminiferous does nothing to change that, it is crushing, catchy and led by Matt Pikes trademark guitar-work and garbled, strained vocals. Sounding like an Orc warlord on the path to battle, Pike is on display in his finest hour, with High On Fire‘s latest showing his versatility and ability more so than any other of the bands albums to date.
De Vermis Mysteriis was a low point for the band, with songs like ‘Serums of Liao’ and ‘Bloody Knuckles’ bleeding directly into each other, many overstayed their welcome past the point of boredom and into grating. Immediately following the crisp yet still sludgy Snakes For The Divine, with some of the best tracks laid down by the band, like ‘Bastard Samurai’ and ‘Frost Hammer’, Mysteriis was a one note bludgeon. It hit listeners with the same speed and style, wearing them out. Luminiferous aims to fix that, returning to a more clear and varied style where brevity is one of its qualities, songs are punchy and justify their long lengths. There is variation between slower, tracls like ‘The Falconist’ and ballad esque ‘The Cave’. The title track and ‘The Hive’ make for some of High On Fire‘s heaviest and fastest work to date. Luminiferous is complex, interesting and contemplative. It is the hammer that crushes and the scalpel that makes precise cuts.
Luminiferous is also Pike’s finest hour, with album opener ‘The Black Pot’ containing what could only be construed as the High On Fire equivalent to “Clean” vocals in metal. With Pike’s sobriety giving him a seemingly new-found sound and sense of clarity. One can only hope that this is a continued path for the band that leads to more albums like Luminiferous. With this release being High On Fire in it’s most distilled form, it may not be their most pondering, brutal or punchy release, but it more than makes up for it with a listen that provides a cohesive experience. Each song provides a range of emotions, tones and styles that ultimately make Luminiferous High On Fire’s most consistent and powerful work since Death Is This Communion.
At fifty-five minutes, Luminiferous is the whole package, never overstaying its welcome nor leaving too quickly. Fans of the band are sure to find plenty of tracks that fit to their favorite version of High On Fire, whether its the screaming, riffing madness of ‘Slave The Hive’, the brooding, crooning and etheric ‘The Cave’ or the sludgy, heavy and droning sounds of ‘The Falconist’. High On Fire has created their most consistent and varied album to date with Luminiferous, easily erasing any past slights on fans.