(In which some of Wack's favorite bands critique their critics.)
Out on the road with the Gigantour, Oakland metal behemoth High on Fire — singer-guitarist Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz — continue to melt faces with songs from their latest disc, Death Is This Communion. On the phone two days before the tour launch, the affable Kensel noted when asked if he typically reads reviews of his band's albums, "I'll be the first to admit I have a short attention span — that's probably why I play drums," but was more than game to review some Communion reviews:
"The record's audio quality sounds less deep-fried than in the past, making it seem at times as if the band's rugged, dirty simplicity is slipping away. It's not over, though; the deeper you go into the record, the more reassured you become that these musicians know what they're great at." (The New York Times)
High on Fire
High on Fire performs Thursday, April 17, at the Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. Children of Bodom, In Flames, Job for a Cowboy and Megadeth are also on the bill. Call 713-230-1600 for more info.
Des Kensel: "Deep-fried," that's an interesting comment. Maybe it's just, uhh, thick and oily, like a deep fryer at the end of a shift or something. I know what that is — that's pretty nasty because I was a fry cook for a while, way back. I've even got the grease scars to prove it. But further on, I guess he realizes it gets all thick and sludgy again, so he's happy about that.
"In interest of full disclosure: I hate nearly all metal. I've never been one for aggro-male bonding over cheap beer and fist fights, which is what it means to be 'metal' in my neck of the woods...I've never gotten it, and never will. That being said, for some reason, I like High on Fire." (Wonka Vision)
DK: Well, all right! That's pretty funny. I mean, one thing about our band, we try to make it sound as heavy as possible — I don't wanna say as "aggro" as possible 'cause we're not like a fuckin' Mountain Dew commercial, all extreme and shit, but that's what we like to do. But I think even doing that, we have a wider audience base than most metal bands.
"It's drummer Des Kensel's ability to push forward and hold back — not simply pound monochromatically from start to finish — that truly creates the thriving, volatile atmosphere here: A black, acrid environment wherein Pike's guitar creeps out from Frazetta swamp logs, climbs dead trees, and summons lightning bolts from black thunderclouds." (Village Voice)
DK: Well, at the beginning, when he talks about me, he sounds like a genius! That guy really knows what he's talkin' about. You lost my interest once you said "Pike" — I was doin' something else. (Laughs.) Nah...the Frazetta stuff, and how Matt's shooting lightning bolts, that's cool, because a lot of our lyrics and our sound definitely bring up some magical, mystical powers stuff, so I think it's easy for a reviewer to write about stuff like that. We get a lot of that. It's cool.
"High on Fire may sound great, but [for] hipsters used to the crystal clear, bass-less productions so chic in today's mall metal, I doubt the acoustic melodies and stoneriffic attack are going to win them over." (Sputnikmusic)
DK: Well, the more intricate our playing does get, we still wanna keep it bass-y and ballsy. Maybe he's right — whether we're gonna win over the mall kids, you never know. I mean, if we get 'em, cool; if not, oh well. We're trying to make careers out of this, and those mall kids got money, otherwise they wouldn't be at the mall.
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"Perhaps some of the vulnerability that also occasionally infects the stage shows would have added a dimension to High on Fire that previously lay in tatters, the crushing qualities of their material stamping it into the dirt. Just a little softness, maybe?" (Drowned in Sound)
DK: Hah, that guy probably hangs out with the dude who hates metal. They probably write their reviews at the same coffee shop.
"The sensation you get from listening to this record is one of being slowly ripped limb from limb...and loving every minute of it." (MetalKult)
DK: Loving getting ripped limb from limb, that's funny. I'm imagining this writer sitting there in a bloody pool, with his limbs all around, and laughing and smiling, like, "This is fucking awesome, man!!" Shit, I'd buy it from that alone!