Review: High On Fire

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High On Fire
““Surrounded By Thieves””
(Relapse Records)

What an appropriate title. These knuckleheaded stoners have purloined just about every conceivable element of their album from somewhere else. I know Sleep was a big deal to some people, but I could never get past the fact that they were merely Sabbath practitioners. And now this. More of almost the same, only a bit heavier. But back to the appropriation. Imagine if you will, a dark cover featuring a horned devil or demon on horseback, wielding an axe in front of some demon army silhouetted on a blood red dusk. Wait, it gets less original. The bands name and album title frame the illustration in an old english font, colored blood red as well. Sound vaguely familiar? Dio, Molly Hatchet, Motorhead or Saxon ringing any bells? I thought it was some sort of gag, poking fun at the Anglo-warrior metal of the mid 80’s, but the lyrics doth portray a vision of yon Dungeons and Dragons. Anyway, on to the music. Sludged out guitar and bass, droning persistently over the constant slap of warlike drums. The thick sonic structure repeating itself over and over again, unapologetically with grumbly vocals reminiscent of so many stoner-metal bands. Stoner-metal bands like Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Green Machine, Earthlings?, Beaver, Mystic Crewe of Clearlight, Dozer, Otis, Atomic Bitchwax and more doing the same thing or better. Judging by the current flux of pot-rock bands, I’d say it’s time to put down the jay and see what a toke of originality might conjure.