After a couple of setbacks, High on Fire return better than ever | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

After a couple of setbacks, High on Fire return better than ever 

click to enlarge High on Fire

High on Fire

Courtesy the Artist

It’s finally happening! High on Fire, the most beloved heavy-metal band of the modern era, are going on tour in support of their eighth studio album and best release yet, last year’s Electric Messiah. They’ve tried twice before, but both times they hit roadblocks. In January, the band canceled the second of two tours when singer and guitarist Matt Pike, who’s battling diabetes, had some of his toes surgically removed. A few weeks later, the group won the first Grammy of their two-decade career, and things seemed to be getting back on track. Then in July, cofounder and drummer Des Kensel—whose relentless, thunderous gallop anchors the band’s signature sound—announced his departure. But High on Fire are unbreakable veterans who’ve soldiered through the trenches of metal before (especially Pike, who essentially laid down the template for stoner metal as we know it when he cofounded Sleep nearly 30 years ago), so it takes more than losing a drummer and a few toes to stop them. This fall Pike and bassist Jeff Matz have teamed up with Wear Your Wounds drummer Chris Maggio, who’s previously played in Coliseum and Trap Them and knows plenty about hammering out massive, monster grooves. With its crushing, boneheaded riffs, soaring howls, and artillery-fire drumming, Electric Messiah is everything that’s great about heavy metal, past or present—even without Kensel, it’ll be amazing to see these songs live.   v

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