HIGH ON FIRE (1998–PRESENT). Matt Pike (guitar/vocals), George Rice (bass, replaced by Joe Preston, Jeff Matz), Des Kensel (drums).
High on Fire was formed by guitarist Matt Pike after the demise of his previous band, the stoner rock legend Sleep. In High on Fire, Pike wanted to move away from the intricate stoner rock of Sleep in a harder and faster direction. High on Fire is almost the total opposite of Sleep, with heavy, brutal drums anchoring Pike’s massive (and brutally loud) riffage, ferocious drumming from Kensel, and Pike’s lurid growl. Pike is also a keen guitar experimenter and in some songs such as “Khanrad’s Wall” and “Turk” the band veers almost into Indian raga territory—just an example of Pike’s prowess and willingness to experiment outside the parameters of modern metal. Bassist Rice left the band to be replaced by ex- Melvin (a key influence on Pike) Joe Preston temporarily, until Metz stepped in to fill out the bottom end.
High on Fire are one of the best touring bands in metal, and the latest record, Death is this Communion, is a beautifully abrasive record. Although many fans yearn for a full-on Sleep reunion, High on Fire is testament to the fact that a band can be both brutal and beautiful at the same time.
Discography: The Art of Self Defense (Man’s Ruin Records, 2000); Surrounded by Thieves (Relapse Records, 2002); Blessed Black Wings (Relapse Records, 2004); Death Is This Communion (Relapse Records, 2007).