High on Fire - Electric Messiah
E1 Music
Stoner Metal
9 songs (56:52)
Release year: 2018
High on Fire, E1 Music
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Producing a comeback album as good as Sleep's The Sciences would wipe many a musician out for the year if not the decade, yet it says a lot about Matt Pike that he has also come back with a new High On Fire album. And although it's not up there with the band's best; arguably not even in the top half of their best, Electric Messiah is still a raucous good time for fans of the band's rocking stoner sound. Influenced by and in tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister, this album doesn't particularly stray from the hard-riffing sound we've come to know and love so much as refine and focus it. The likes of opener Spewn From the Earth rock hard and indulge in well-interwoven thrashy gallops, contrasting well with more epic, slower-paced sludge monsters like Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil that builds ominously before bursting forth like a slowly erupting volcano. As a power trio the band are tight and together, each contributing well, from long-term drummer Des Kensel's near-tribal patterns, ever-precise and always a little more complex than he could get away with, to Jeff Matz's solid bottom end that so enhances the Motörhead-ic drive of the title track amongst others and, of course, Matt Pike's essential bellow and guitar rumble.

We've had twenty years and eight albums to grow accustomed to and fond of the band's unique sound, yet it's always a welcome surprise to come back and rediscover just how good they are. The smooth rumbling thrash of The Pallid Mask uses its downright beautiful guitar solos as a compelling contrast to the groovy metal surrounding, the riffcraft as good as ever. That feeling of noticing a fun, clever riff is one of the more underrated parts of being an (amateur) metal critic, and it happens again and again on Electric Messiah, God of the Godless and The Witch and The Christ just two examples of why I enjoyed this so much more than 2015's slightly by-the-numbers Luminiferous. The band seem reinvigorated, not notably changing their sound (nothing here couldn't have come from a High on Fire album of a decade ago) but tinkering with it to result in songs as good as Freebooter or melodic closer Drowning Dog.

Even the album's longest piece, the ten-minute plus Sanctioned Annihilation, is terrific, a building doomy epic that indulges itself and the listener with plenty of meandering lead guitars, leading in a hypnotic circle and making the length fly by. Perhaps a little too much is made of the Motörhead-like tendencies of bands like High On Fire to release solid yet samey albums, not least by me, yet insiders who listen to and enjoy the heavier metals will appreciate the differences between them, and whilst we can but guess at why Electric Messiah is ultimately a better listen than Luminiferous (Pike apparently getting over a breakup on the last album vs enjoying a new relationship on this might be a factor) ultimately it's impossible to ignore how solid a band this is and how enjoyable this music can be.

Killing Songs :
Electric Messiah, The Pallid Mask, God of the Godless, Drowning Dog
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by High on Fire that we have reviewed:
High on Fire - Luminiferous reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
High on Fire - The Art Of Self Defence (reissue) reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
High on Fire - Surrounded By Thieves reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
High on Fire - Snakes For The Divine reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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