High on Fire

Electric Messiah

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Back for another round of bludgeoning stoner thrash, Oakland, California's High on Fire unleash a brass-knuckled haymaker on their eighth studio long player, the punitive and workmanlike Electric Messiah. Working once again with producer and Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, who helmed the veteran group's two previous outings, the nine-track set commences with the aptly named "Spewn from the Earth." Heralded by a tsunami of blast-furnace beats and pick slides, the song eventually yields to frontman Matt Pike, who delivers lungfuls of impressionistic, Cthulhu mythos-rich dread that invoke Lemmy by way of AC/DC's Brian Johnson. The former entity looms large over Electric Messiah, with the title cut paying homage to the legendary Motörhead frontman who passed away in 2015, and whom Pike acknowledges had a huge influence on both his writing and vocal style. While the thrash elements of Electric Messiah loom large, as purveyors of uncompromising doom metal, High on Fire remain at the top of their game, dropping epic, Sabbathy beatdowns like "Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil" and "Sanctioned Annihilation," the latter of which clocks in at ten-and-a-half minutes, making it their longest track to date. Elsewhere, late-album highlight "Freebooter" is as kinetic and pugilistic as anything Pike and company have done before, and it bristles with the kind of energy that's usually reserved for bands that have yet to reach their 20-year mark -- the one sonic outlier is the surprisingly melodic closer "Drowning Dog," which hews closer to classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Electric Messiah proves that High on Fire can still blow the unholy horn of plenty, and while fans will know just what to expect when dropping the stylus, that knowledge takes nothing away from the Epicurean pleasure of sidling up to a favorite feast.

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