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High On Fire

Photo by Denis Radacic
Photo by Denis Radacic
The Devil Rides Out/Scalphunter
Friday, July 18, 2014
The Rosemount Hotel
Matt Pike is no stranger to our shores. Though he ventured to Perth last year with stoner pioneers Sleep, it was back in 2011 when High On Fire – his passion project – came as part of the Soundwave run of dates. Getting a glimpse of the man himself in the flesh and a taste of the absolutely force this band hold live left many wanting more. Now, three years later, this craving has well and truly been sated. High on Fire absolutely slayed the Rosemount; no doubt.
But they weren’t the only ones to rip punters a new one. Locals Scalphunter were infectious as fuck. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, burly frontman Steve Knoth used the sparseness of the early crowd to weave his magic, jumping the metal barrier early on to mingle and get-up in everyone’s business. Bringing the die-hards to the forefront, it was hard not to get swept up in the never-ending energy this act consistently brings to the stage. Making note of There Will Be Change, a video clip for the track that was recently removed from Youtube for allegedly being to “too hardcore” for people’s tastes, they launched into the song – the venom still in the air from the censorship hit.
Joey K, vocalist for The Devil Rides Out, may have had pneumonia – but this was the rawest, heaviest performance seen of the band to date.  Unrelenting and heavy-as-hell, the outfit’s dedication to digging down and personifying the spirit of sludge was definitely a high point of the night. Guitarist Andrew Ewing’s riffing was mesmerizing – evoking people to close their eyes and lethargically-nod, as all good doom-influenced music does.
High On Fire are not for fanfare and grandeur. Entering side stage left, Pike wearing no shirt – as his trademark – there was no greetings. Just the cry “Fury whip” from the frontman’s lip, they launched into the first powerful notes from the rhythm section of drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz. The result? Perfectly constructed chaos.
The pit erupted and sustained throughout their set, which was littered with diverse range of material from their back catalogue. Picks like Blood Of The Zion from the band’s debut offering, The Art Of Self Defense (2000) and Devilution from 2005’s Blessed Black Wings were spliced betweenMadness Of An Architect from their latest effort, De Vermis Mysteriis (2012) – the speed-infused vibe treading between the light and somewhere much darker. Ending off at their blistering peak with the unforgettable riff that marks Snakes Of The Divine, the band came up and thanked their fans with fist bumps and high fives – just because that’s the kind of dudes they are. And we loved them for it.
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