Words Gram Pola

When you first realize that you’re into stoner rock, doom or just metal in general, you’re only a couple of steps away from being informed that you aren’t cool, unless you know of the existence of Matt Pike.

I guarantee there will be some old hand of the scene just waiting to let you know what is really cool and where your head should be at. That place is HIGH ON FIRE.

Don’t feel bad about it, you can’t avoid it. This shit happened to me. A guy a few years older than me told me there was this amazing band with this mystical guitarist that wielded his ax like a lycanthropic Paganini. That this guy was a professor in theosophical sciences who could wax lyrical on the subtler points of the Gospel according to James. That’s James the brother of Jesus. See you didn’t know Jesus had a brother… your mind is already being tuned to the HIGH ON FIRE frequency. Really even now to this day, I don’t even know if this shit I am telling you about Matt Pike is true? I guess I could Google it and find out but who wants to know the truth? I prefer the legend. So sit back, relax and open your mind cause now it’s your turn to learn from me, what is good in life.

Matt Pike you see is the guitarist in a band called SLEEP. Now SLEEP pretty much changed music. SLEEP signed to a major, spent the advance on drugs and then jumped in the studio and recorded one song over an hour in length and that my friend is how they changed shit forever. SLEEP are like the Kyuss that are not so easy to like. The Kyuss your hipster friends don’t understand. SLEEP and H.O.F. defines you as a true musical insider.

Firstly you need to know that SLEEP folded, much like a TV show being axed without us knowing the end. You were left frustrated and pissed off! You eternally want some more of that SLEEP buzz. You might even get it soon cause I hear there are plans for new SLEEP material. However that’s a whole other story. So you are wanting the SLEEP buzz but that shit ended already, enter the same old stoner dude, SLEEP shirt, torn flannie, furry freak brothers comic in his back pocket, ready to switch you onto the sequel, HIGH ON FIRE.

Now let me say before we go any further waxing lyrical about Matt Pike, HIGH ON FIRE is the coolest name for a band , EVER. I rarely ever think about what a band name means but HIGH ON FIRE has rolled around my brain many a night. Does Matt Pike mean you are high on the fire that burns your blunts? Or does Matt Pike mean you are high on the fires of HELL? I mean it could be both. I kinda hope it is.

So normally when someone pulls some legendary shit out of their arse the sequel is a disappointing pile of rubbish. I say normally but there is nothing normal about MATT PIKE. He plays a custom nine string guitar designed with Brent Hind of Mastodon. He plays that nine stringer with a bunch of bananas that a Sasquatch would be proud to call hands. Nothing, including his guitar is standard about this guy. SO HIGH ON FIRE is SLEEP but with more CELTIC FROST and SLAYER influence and its not run of the mill or normal in any way. Do you feel what I am smoking?

Now around 2002 sometime I was on a long term holiday in the states after closing my nightclub. This is when I saw HIGH ON FIRE the first time. I think it may have been one of their first tours and I have what I believe is their first tour shirt. I would still wear it but I got fat. That changed me, seeing them live. The only band I can say is comparable live are CLUTCH.

So where was I? Oh yeah, Matt Pike can play guitar like no one else on the planet. I remember the second time I saw HIGH ON FIRE they where at Soundwave and it was daylight. I’d also learned a few things about how to play guitars since the last time I saw them. I was like a metre from him and all these super cool beards where gathered towards the front. Matt laid down some solos that literally took your breath away. Just shit that people born on this planet shouldn’t be able to do. All us cool guys just lost our shit. Grown men just laughing in amazement and bewilderment like little kids hearing their first LED ZEPPELIN record while stoned. I remember this momentary pause in the onslaught mid gig and we just looked at each other in amazement and I said “This guy is like the JIMI HENDRIX of metal”. No one thought that shit was funny, they just shook their heads in agreement.



“Simple fact: You should see High On Fire live” – Pitchfork

July 16 – Brisbane – Crowbar
 with Shellfin and Smoke
July 17 – Brisbane – Crowbar
 with Lizzard Wizzard and Zodiac
July 18 – Perth – Rosemount Hotel with The Devil Rides Out and Scalphunter
July 19 – Melbourne – The Hi-Fi
 with High Tension and Horsehunter
July 20 – Sydney – Factory Theatre with I Exist and Gvrlls

Tickets available from, oztix and the venues.

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Watch ‘Slave the Hive’ –
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Listen to ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ in full –