Vinyl Double LP £28.49 LORD164LP
Ltd gatefold 2LP on Southern Lord.
8/10 Tom 24th May 2018
What do you do when your legendary but criminally slept-on band breaks up? Start two more legendary bands, of course. When Sleep broke up in 1998 after a saga trying to get an official release for their magnum opus, the hour-plus-long song Jerusalem (later retitled Dopesmoker), bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius formed Om, and guitarist Matt Pike formed High on Fire.
As the tone wizard in Sleep, Pike played the role of Tony Iommi - the guitarist at the side writing bluesy Sabbathian riffs. As the frontman in High on Fire Pike is a total fucking warlord. Opening track "Baghdad" sounds like if you played Dopesmoker in triple time and threw Lemmy on vocals, and "Blood From Zion" sounds like a propulsive call to arms. There are also some concessions for the Sleep fans - "10,000 Years" has a pleasing circular riff and "Master of Riffs" is a form of stoner rage, malevolent but too slovenly to do any real damage. A great album from High on Fire and probably their most cohesive in its single-minded dedication to the art of the riff.
8/10 gbar 6th March 2017
From the crumpled remains of an hour plus long doom/stoner masterstroke crawls Matt Pike. A love child of Tony Iommi and Lemmy Kilmister with no tolerance for hip-hop sensibilities, mall grooves, or memorable guitar solos, but he plays them anyway because only solos are real. "The Art of Self Defense" is not only a great excuse to dig out a highly underrated album from a most under-rated band but also portrays how important the band have been to the development of metal since its release in 2000.
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