album review: High On Fire – Luminiferous


Buy High on Fire – Luminiferous | listen to High on Fire – Luminiferous

Since I’ve been listening to dave weckl drumming I’m listening to more Chick Chorea and all the bands, projects and musicians he’s been associated with.  This lead me to the Jeff Forber Fusion group.  Today was my first time listening to them and I was intending to write a review, but finding that Kenny G, and while there’s nothing wrong with him, was one of the prominent members of the group I had to ask myself if I was really going that soft.

Sure I just got married but I can’t just lie down, can i? Either way, I got about 1 song in before realizing Mr G is one of the members of this group.  I had to do what any metal drummer would do.  Switch to High on Fire.

This band is the motorcycle loving leather dude you drink with and see at shows.  he rules, and he hasn’t had the gall to step down.  he has a vision of his life and who he is and he lives it.  This would be Matt Pike.  the dude was involved in the beginning of the true stoner metal sound with his group Sleep in 1992. He’s also had an intense life.

Watching High On Fire live is a trip.  Dude walks onto the stage with his shirt off, hair past his shoulders and they just shred. Their intensity is half of the show.  They just played Thalia Hall the same night Weckl and Mayer played at Martyrs. As a drummer I made the right decision.

When you hear the name High on Fire you hear Matt’s snarling voice in your head, like at the 2 min mark on Sunless Years. He’s yelling from the depth of his lungs and his voice has yelled in a lot of faces through the years. The thunderous drums that finish the track raise the song in an amazing way to end the song.

The songs tend to get into a mid tempo groove, but there’s also the rippers.  Slave the Hive is a thrash jam, double bass, big fills. pissed at someone.

This is one of those bands that if you like them, you really like them.  There are probably some fair weather fans, but the majority are devoted.  Their albums are consistently good.  You know what to expect, yet there’s something new for their music.  If they were to do an acoustic album there’d probably be overly dramatic reactions.

Hearing this new album, Luminiferous doesn’t sound like they’ve aged or calmed.  It sounds like they continue to refine their songs and collaboration as a band.  The album is great.  What’s difficult is to rate the album amongst the others without really devoting yourself to the songs.

The title track performs as you’d expect a High on Fire title track to play.  Luminiferous (the song) is a ripper.  Once the song gets to the climax (you’ll know) Matt’s voice holds out for dear life, like the drop below would hurt him.

The final track takes you on the familiar Matt Pike-esque journey.  In a slower groove, but the middle build is a monsterous drumming experience.  The only type of tension that can drop off to the slow sludgy groove they’re known for.

And after listening to High on Fire for any period you must cleanse the palate with Snakes for the Divine.

Buy High on Fire – Luminiferous | listen to High on Fire – Luminiferous

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show review: Melt Banana, Torche, Hot Nerds at Empty Bottle (7-15-15)

150714 - Melt Banana - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – the 3 members of Melt Banana – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Can the Japanese Noise-Grind Core group Melt Banana bring the metal intensity without a drummer?

150714 - Hot Nerds - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Hot Nerds – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

San Fran natives Hot Nerds opened the show, but we walked in 3/4 through their set.  They played a type of carnival punk with guitar/vocals, acoustic drums and a synthesizer with songs clocking in under 2 minutes.  The vocals had an effect that he didn’t turn off during the entire performance, even when he was talking to the crowd.  The drummer pounded away on the drums with a ferocious intensity found in metal/punk drummers.  The singer was self deprecating about the songs but the group seemed to enjoy themselves. The crowd seemed to be into it.

150714 - Torche - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Torche – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Then Torche showed up.  This is when the place started to fill out a lot more and I had to weasel my way up. The music is heavy, but dude sings.  In the first song Steve was shredding a guitar solo with a leg up on the monitor, letting everyone know they weren’t going to sleep their way through the set.  He’d stick his tongue out and held the guitar up while acknowledging the first few rows of the crowd.  Their music is somewhat rowdy, but not enough that people would go nuts and throw each other around to any of their songs.  At least not on a Tuesday apparently. Or everyone there was older.  They played a good portion of tracks from their newest album, Restarter, but mixed in a good chunk from Harmonion.  Most of their songs are in the mid to uptempo range but the tune Minions really stuck out to me, and hearing it live was awesome.  I’m a fan of the more upbeat energetic songs and listening to this recorded seemed like the song would drag on, but seeing them perform it live gave me a new appreciation for it.  A crowd favorite was Letting Go,  but once they were Kicking in you could tell that was also one of the tunes that got the crowd hooked on the band. They played mostly straight through for their entire set, with just a few pauses to check the tuning, but even that was quick and they were appreciative that everyone was there to watch them, not see them tune, get a drink of water and dick around. Not sure if they played this song, but it’s one of my favorites.

150715 - Melt Banana Selfie - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Melt Banana Selfie – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Melt Banana was a band I haven’t been able to truly appreciate until seeing them live.  I’ll listen to them on occasion but to see them live was a whole new experience.  Being a weak ass old man I figured I’d see about 20 minutes and just leave, but once they started playing She had such an amazing energy that she brought to the stage it was hard to tear myself apart.  As a drummer I’m of course saddened when a band uses a drum machine, although I can definitely understand the why behind it.  Heck Aaron and I moved forward as a 2 piece because we were done with guitar players for a short while.  That has passed.  But the drum machine was great, and to have actually seen someone perform what they had tracked would’ve made it that much better.  Aaron mentioned that he saw them with Dave Witte and I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to handle it if that happened.

150715 - Melt Banana - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Melt Banana – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

The movement of the singer Yasuko Onuki was electrifying, and the coordination between her and Ichirou Agata and the fluidity between songs made them playing with a drum machine and samples that much more impression.  Save for a few occasions they weren’t concerned with walking over to line up the computer to start a song, but instead would have synced arm swings and starts, as if they’ve played these songs thousands of times to perfect them.

album review:Sithu Aye – Invent the Universe

listen here.
Hopefully by now you’ve realized I don’t review current material.  Through the magic of spotify I’m able to find material I missed when it was first released, check it out and pass it along.  I have a constant love and need to explore the new music that’s available, as well the stuff that I might have missed when it first came out.  I’m always looking and am interesting in hearing bands you like in the comments or drumnmiker (at) gmail DOT com.

They’re a Djent style band, with progressive metal, instrumental and even electronica as their subcategories.  To borrow from Wikipedia, “Djent /ˈɛnt/[1] is a style of heavy metal music that developed as a spin-off of traditional progressive metal.[2][3] The word “djent” is an onomatopoeia for the distinctive high-gain, distorted palm-muted, low pitch guitar sound most notably employed by bands like Meshuggah and Sikth.” If that’s not your thing, move along.

Being a student of punk rock before metal I’m more prone to like music with blemishes, but that’s just my affinity for punk.  This release sounds almost too perfect with no out of place notes or hits.  The release starts with a dramatic, electronic build into the opening real snare hit, where the band kicks in and the rock begins. They play around with electronics later in the song and touch on it later in the album, but electronics are by no means the main focus, just something to punctuate the breakdowns.  The entire album is full of shredding solos, double bass drumming and crazy fills. Although this is metal and the music is certainly heavy, it’s definitely on the cleaner side of metal.  This is to progressive metal as Chon is to progressive rock.  The lack of vocals keep this music cleaner while still keeping it heavy.  They never go into the faster side of metal, staying mostly in the mid tempo range but typically upbeat. They even veer off into dance for a bit.

This is a solid album with cool musicianship. It’s a cohesive piece of music that ebbs and flows and has some differing moods, whilst still remaining heavy. If you’re looking for something a little less aggressive but still on the heavy side check it out.

album review:Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

"The Parallax II Future Sequence - Between the Buried and Me" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Parallax_II_Future_Sequence_-_Between_the_Buried_and_Me.jpg#/media/File:The_Parallax_II_Future_Sequence_-_Between_the_Buried_and_Me.jpg listen here.
Typically any ‘metal’ band that has a name longer than 1 or 2 words isn’t typically just a metal band.  Progressive Metal is probably the best description, although the music veers to technical death metal, progressive rock, and acoustic with pretty vocals. This album also has them incorporating non-typical instrumentation, such as strings .  The heavy parts bring it to spazz style death metal with extremely aggressive guttural yells, quickly switching to slower more melodic breakdowns showing off the singing prowess of Tommy Giles Rogers.

The album can only be called epic, with this being a strong example for bands to see that the more releases you put out the tighter you’ll all become and the stronger your vision as a band becomes.  Sometimes bands are able to achieve that within their first few albums, but there’s nothing wrong with continuing to hone your vision until you produce your masterpiece.

As to be expected of a band switching so smoothly between different genres some of the parts can come off as strange and sometimes too out there.  Every time I listen to Bloom I can’t help but be recalled of the Flight of Bumblebee, whether intentional or not.  Maybe I’m even missing out on a joke. It then jumps to a 60’s doo wop style before jumping to a Mr Bungle style breakdown.

Five of the twelve songs on the album are nearing if not over 10 minutes long, producing creating a 74 minute epic.  The longer songs do a great job creating different movements and producing “mini-symphonies”, as stated by about.com.

All of the musicians are very talented at what they do.  Being a drummer I have to give a special shout out to Blake Richardson and the insanity he creates behind the kit. He’s great at capturing how to play metal, but also adds textures to the non-metal riffs, effectively using ghost notes, cymbals as sounds instead of bashing the heck out of them and all together cohesiveness.

They’ll be releasing a new album July 7th called Coma Ecliptic. With the growth they’ve shown through the years it’ll be interesting to hear what boundaries they’ll push with the new release.