High On Fire, High Tension, Horsehunter. The Hi-Fi, Melbourne. 19-07-2014.


Words Alexandra Ferrier
Photos Adam Russ – Right Eye Media Australia

Since their last tour with Soundwave in 2012, High on Fire once again set ablaze their path across the nation with a string of recent shows. It’s something of a privilege to witness this band in an intimate setting. The Hi-Fi; a lovely, dark petrie dish of warm, moist air, cold beer and acoustics, fit for a night of doom, sludge and punk.

First on the bill were Horsehunter and their ferocity was undeniable. The Melbourne doom band continue to gain momentum and have established themselves as a ‘band you must see live’, and favourites in the local metal scene. This was clearly conveyed with the early turn out of punters and music admirers; a heart-warming scenario to witness.

High Tension followed, bringing their game of brutality and throwing it in the faces of the crowd. Guitarist Ash Pegram was a pleasure to witness in his element and lead singer Karina Utomo channelled unknown forces to project a voice both frightening and incredibly impressive. Despite their efforts, I felt their style didn’t fit the bill. The table had already been set. The people awaited their main.

The transition was swift. A smile, wave and greeting saw a bearded, shirtless and impeccably tattooed Matt Pike quickly swing his white Les Paul over his shoulder. The band took their positions and, with no time to waste or brace, ‘Fury Whip’ resonated around the room, the opening track off Death Is This Communion christened by a perfect plume of beer shooting into the sky from the centre of the mosh pit. A poignant moment, as Pike’s sobriety was evident in his absolute fine form on stage. With his voice of thunder and grip upon the strings strong, he shredded through endless progressions professionally and effortlessly. Drummer Des Kensel, shrouded in darkness, atop his drum kit throne, barraged us with wall after wall of intensity. De Vermis Mysteriis track ‘Fertile Green’ captured this moment perfectly, encapsulating his tenacity. Teamed with Jeff Matz on bass, the shift in reaction from the crowd when they joined forces for the opening of ‘10,000 Years’ was indisputable. Intense pleasure, excitement and recollection of times spent with the debut album The Art Of Self Defense rolled like a wave throughout the crowd. A sure trip for all down ‘metal memory lane’; old parties past, signified by the lighting of the sporadic spliffs and raised fists. Glorious! And what better a way to close an evening than with ‘Snakes for the Divine’. This ‘piece de resistance’ was the precise moment where all shit was lost for one last time with the band that lay a pathway, for many, into a lifelong adoration and admiration for all things stoner metal.