High on Fire

Last updated
High on Fire
High on Fire.jpg
High on Fire live in 2008
Background information
Origin Oakland, California, U.S.
Years active1998–present
Labels Relapse, Man's Ruin, Koch
Associated acts Sleep, Thrones, Melvins, Zeke, Asbestosdeath, Kalas, Below the Sound
Website www.highonfire.net
Members Matt Pike
Jeff Matz
Past members Des Kensel
George Rice
Joe Preston

High on Fire is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California, [1] that was formed in 1998. Matt Pike, the band's frontman and founder, also plays guitar for the influential stoner metal band Sleep.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the US and United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Oakland, California City in California, United States

Oakland is the largest city and the county seat of Alameda County, California, United States. A major West Coast port city, Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, the third largest city overall in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth most populated city in California, and the 45th largest city in the United States. With a population of 432,897 as of 2019, it serves as a trade center for the San Francisco Bay Area; its Port of Oakland is the busiest port in the San Francisco Bay, the entirety of Northern California, and the fifth busiest in the United States of America. An act to incorporate the city was passed on May 4, 1852, and incorporation was later approved on March 25, 1854, which officially made Oakland a city. Oakland is a charter city.

Matt Pike American musician

Matt Pike is a Grammy Award winning American metal musician best known as the guitarist of the doom metal band Sleep and the frontman of High on Fire. He is well known in the metal scene for never wearing a shirt during live performances.



High on Fire was founded in 1998 by Sleep guitarist Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel, and bassist George Rice (from Dear Deceased, who originally auditioned to be the band's vocalist). The band's first full-length album The Art of Self Defense was released on 12th Records, and released later on Man's Ruin Records. (The album would later be re-released by Tee Pee Records, with two bonus tracks, as Man's Ruin Records had become defunct.)

Sleep (band) stoner doom metal band

Sleep is an American doom metal power trio from San Jose, California. The band earned critical and record label attention early in its career. Critic Eduardo Rivadavia describes them as "perhaps the ultimate stoner rock band" and notes they exerted a strong influence on heavy metal in the 1990s. However, conflict with its record company contributed to Sleep's breakup by the end of the decade. The band reformed in 2009 and has played sporadic live dates internationally since. In 2018, Sleep released their comeback album, The Sciences, on Third Man Records, to critical acclaim.

Des Kensel American musician

Des Kensel is the Grammy Award winning drummer of the stoner metal band High on Fire.

<i>The Art of Self Defense</i> (album) 2000 studio album by High on Fire

The Art of Self Defense is the debut studio album for High on Fire. It was released originally by Man's Ruin Records in 2000.

In 2001, High on Fire signed a record deal with Relapse Records [2] and recorded the album Surrounded by Thieves . The album was released on May 28, 2002. After the tours promoting Surrounded by Thieves, bassist George Rice left the band and was replaced by ex-Melvins/Thrones bassist Joe Preston.

Relapse Records record label in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, United States

Relapse Records is an American independent record label based in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. It was founded by Matthew F. Jacobson in 1990. The label features a large number of grindcore, death metal, and sludge metal artists.

<i>Surrounded by Thieves</i> 2002 studio album by High on Fire

Surrounded by Thieves is the second studio album by Oakland stoner metal band High on Fire. It was their first album for Relapse Records and was produced by Billy Anderson and the band itself. "Hung, Drawn and Quartered" was utilized as the album's promotional track. It was featured on a 7" split with Mastodon's "March of the Fire Ants" and had a music video which aired on Uranium and Headbangers Ball.

Thrones is the solo project of bassist Joe Preston.

The band's next album, 2005's Blessed Black Wings , was largely written by Pike and Kensel before the recording of the album took place. The album was produced by Steve Albini, and was released on February 1, 2005. A music video was produced for the song "Devilution." [3] While touring with Goatwhore and Watch Them Die to promote Blessed Black Wings, Joe Preston left the band for undisclosed reasons, and was temporarily replaced by Zeke bassist Jeff Matz. [4] Matz finished the tour with High on Fire and became a full-time member during the recording of Death Is This Communion . Death Is This Communion was released on September 18, 2007 (September 10, in Europe).

<i>Blessed Black Wings</i> 2005 studio album by High on Fire

Blessed Black Wings is the third studio album by heavy metal band High on Fire. The vinyl version was released as a double LP and contains a bonus track, "Rapid Fire," originally by Judas Priest.

Steve Albini American record engineer and rock musician

Steven Albini is an American musician, record producer, audio engineer and music journalist. He was a member of Big Black, Rapeman and Flour, and is a member of Shellac. He is the founder, owner and principal engineer of Electrical Audio, a recording studio complex in Chicago. In 2018, Albini estimated that he had worked on several thousand albums during his career.

Goatwhore band

Goatwhore is an American blackened death metal band formed in 1997 in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

After Death is This Communion was released, High on Fire played a small string of Northwest shows to promote it. The band did a headline tour of North America in September and October 2007, with support from the Japanese post-rock band Mono, along with Panthers and Coliseum. [5] High on Fire also played on 2008's Gigantour, [6] which was followed by a North American tour with the bands Opeth, Baroness, and Nachtmystium. [7]

Post-rock is a form of experimental rock characterized by a focus on exploring textures and timbre over traditional rock song structures, chords, or riffs. Post-rock artists are often instrumental, typically combining rock guitars and drums with electronic instruments. The genre emerged within the indie and underground music scene of the 1980s and early 1990s. However, due to its abandonment of rock conventions, it often bears little resemblance musically to contemporary indie rock, borrowing instead from diverse sources including ambient music, electronica, jazz, dub, and minimalist classical.

Mono (Japanese band) Japanese instrumental rock band

Mono is a Japanese instrumental band, formed in 1999 in Tokyo. The band consists of Takaakira "Taka" Goto, Hideki "Yoda" Suematsu, Dahm Majuri Cipolla (drums), and Tamaki Kunishi.

Panthers is an American punk rock band from Brooklyn, New York. The Village Voice described them as "groundbreaking dissonant HC (hardcore) with Rolling Stones swagger." Three members were previously in the hardcore band Orchid. Panthers have released four records. The most recent two, The Trick and Things Are Strange were released on Vice Records. Prior to that they released via Dim Mak Records and Troubleman Unlimited.

Matt live with High On Fire 2016 Matt Pike 2016.jpg
Matt live with High On Fire 2016

On December 17, 2008, High on Fire signed a recording deal with Koch Records. On August 1, 2009, it was announced that a new album would be recorded with producer Greg Fidelman. [8] Later that month, following the news of the new album, High on Fire announced a tour with Mastodon, Dethklok, and Converge. The tour spanned from October 2 to November 21. [9]

Greg Fidelman is an American record mixer, engineer and record producer. He has worked with many bands in various genres, many in the heavier rock or thrash metal genres, including Metallica, Slayer, High on Fire, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bush, Audioslave, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, and System of a Down, but has also worked on albums by U2, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and others.

Mastodon (band) American heavy metal band

Mastodon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 2000. The group is composed of Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Brent Hinds (guitar/vocals), Bill Kelliher (guitar), and Brann Dailor (drums/vocals). Mastodon has released seven studio albums, as well as a number of other releases. The band's 2002 debut album, Remission, garnered significant critical acclaim for its unique sound. Mastodon's second full-length release, Leviathan, is a concept album based on the novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Three magazines awarded the record Album of the Year in 2004: Revolver, Kerrang! and Terrorizer.

Dethklok animated American metal band

Dethklok is a virtual melodic death metal band featured in the Adult Swim animated television series Metalocalypse.

In August 2009, the band went into post-production of the follow-up to Death Is This Communion at The Pass Studios in Los Angeles. The album artwork for the new album was released on January 7, 2010. [10] On January 15, following the release of the album artwork, the song Frost Hammer was posted on the band's Myspace page, [11] and a video for the song was released on March 16, 2010. [12] High on Fire's fifth album Snakes for the Divine was formally released on February 23, 2010.

In March 2010, the band announced a headlining U.S. tour to promote the album; supporting bands for the tour include Priestess, Black Cobra, and Bison B.C.. [13] On April 6, 2010, the band announced they would be opening for Metallica for eight European shows. [14]

In 2010, the band was confirmed as being part of the soundtrack for Namco Bandai Games' 2010 remake of Splatterhouse. On April 3, 2012, High on Fire released their sixth studio album, De Vermis Mysteriis . Metalsucks.net reviews editor Sammy O'Hagar argued that the band has "rebounded in epic fashion" since their last album, and that "Even for a band as esteemed as High on Fire, [De Vermis Mysteriis] is a career high point." [15]

High on Fire was scheduled to play the 2012 Mayhem Festival but dropped off the tour due to Matt Pike's health. [16] Matt Pike returned to the band and they once again began touring in November 2012.

High on Fire's album Luminiferous became available in full for free streaming as a preview with NPR music on June 7, 2015, with the official release of the album nine days later on June 16. [17] Luminiferous is the second High on Fire album in a row produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. NPR reviewer Adrien Begrand credits Kurt Ballou with "helping rejuvenate the band's sound" on their previous album, and praises the album as evidence of High on Fire's consistency, fueled by the "right combination of adherence to formula and subtle experimentation." [17] Dan Epstein, writing for Rolling Stone, concurs that "one could definitely make the case that [Luminiferous] is High on Fire's finest album yet." [18]

At the 61st Grammy Awards held on February 10, 2019, High On Fire won their first Grammy for "Best Metal Performance" for their song "Electric Messiah". [19] [20]

Drummer and co-founder Des Kensel announced his departure from the band on July 26, 2019. [21]



Studio albums

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
Hard Rock Albums
Independent Albums
Tastemaker Albums
Heatseekers Albums
Top Rock Albums
Billboard 200
Top Album Sales
2000 The Art of Self Defense
  • Released: March 7, 2000
  • Label: Man's Ruin
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2002 Surrounded by Thieves
  • Released: May 28, 2002
  • Label: Relapse
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2005 Blessed Black Wings
  • Released: February 1, 2005
  • Label: Relapse
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2007 Death Is This Communion
  • Released: September 10, 2007
  • Label: Relapse
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2010 Snakes for the Divine
  • Released: February 23, 2010
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2012 De Vermis Mysteriis
  • Released: April 3, 2012
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2015 Luminiferous
  • Released: June 23, 2015
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL
2018 Electric Messiah
  • Released: October 9, 2018
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD, LP, 2×LP, DL

Live albums

YearAlbum detailsNotes
2005 Live from the Relapse Contamination Festival Recorded on location at the Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA, Sunday, January 19, 2003 for the Relapse Contamination Festival.
2013Spitting Fire Live, Vol.1
  • Released: June 18, 2013
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD/LP
Recorded live at the Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY on November 30, 2012 and at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY on December 01, 2012. [23]
2013Spitting Fire Live, Vol.2
  • Released: June 18, 2013
  • Label: E1 Music
  • Format: CD/LP
Recorded live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY on December 01, 2012. [23]

Singles, EPs and splits

1999"High on Fire"12th RecordsEP
2003"Hung, Drawn & Quartered / March of the Fire Ants" Relapse Records Split with Mastodon
2005"Brother in the Wind / Gwodhunqa" Skin Graft Records Split with Ruins
2007"Relapse Single Series" Relapse Records Split with Coliseum & Baroness
2012"Speak in Tongues/Beast with a Billion Eyes" Volcom Entertainment Split with Valient Thorr
2019"Bat Salad" E1 Music Record Store Day Exclusive


2010"Frost Hammer" Snakes for the Divine E1 Music
2010"Speak in Tongues" De Vermis Mysteriis E1 Music
2012"Fertile Green" De Vermis Mysteriis E1 Music
2013"Slave the Hive" Luminiferous Scion Audio/Visual

Music videos

2002"Hung, Drawn and Quartered"Jenny McGee Surrounded by Thieves
2005"Devilution"Gary Smithson Blessed Black Wings
2007"Rumors of War"Soren Death Is This Communion
2010"Frost Hammer"Kevin Custer Snakes for the Divine
2012"Fertile Green"Phil Mucci De Vermis Mysteriis
2013"Slave the Hive"NA Luminiferous
2016"The Black Plot"NA Luminiferous
2018"Electric Messiah" (Lyric Video)NA Electric Messiah

Related Research Articles

Soundgarden American grunge rock band

Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band's full-time drummer in 1986, while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990. The band dissolved in 1997 and re-formed in 2010. Following Cornell's suicide in 2017 and a year of uncertainty of the band's future, Thayil declared in an October 2018 interview with Seattle Times that they would not continue as Soundgarden; they did, however, reunite in January 2019 for a one-off concert in tribute to Cornell.

Gorgoroth Norwegian black metal band

Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. It was formed in 1992 by guitarist Infernus, who is also the only original member remaining, and the band have since released nine studio albums. Gorgoroth are a Satanic band and have drawn controversy due to some of their concerts, which have featured impaled sheep heads and mock crucifixions. The band is named after the dead plateau of darkness in the land of Mordor from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings.

Stone Sour American heavy metal band

Stone Sour is an American rock band formed in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1992. The band performed for five years before disbanding in 1997. They reunited in 2000 and since 2015, the group has consisted of Corey Taylor, Josh Rand (guitar), Christian Martucci (guitar), Johny Chow (bass) and Roy Mayorga (drums). Longtime members Joel Ekman and Shawn Economaki left the band in 2006 and 2011, respectively. Former lead guitarist Jim Root left in 2014.

3 Inches of Blood Canadian heavy metal band

3 Inches of Blood was a Canadian heavy metal band formed in 1999 in Victoria, British Columbia, last consisting of Cam Pipes, Justin Hagberg, Shane Clark, and Ash Pearson, none of whom were original members of the band. They are marked by strong influences from the new wave of British heavy metal movement.

Biohazard (band) American band

Biohazard is an American band formed in Brooklyn, New York, in 1987. They are acknowledged as one of the earliest bands to fuse hardcore punk and heavy metal with elements of hip hop. The earliest lineup consisted of bassist-vocalist Evan Seinfeld, guitarist Bobby Hambel, and drummer Anthony Meo. Guitarist-vocalist Billy Graziadei would join the band soon after, changing the band to a four-piece. Since February 2016, the lineup has consisted of Graziadei, Hambel, and Danny Schuler.

Bullet for My Valentine Welsh metal band

Bullet for My Valentine, often abbreviated as BFMV, are a Welsh heavy metal band from Bridgend, Wales, formed in 1998. The band is currently composed of Matthew Tuck, Michael Paget, Jason Bowld (drums) and Jamie Mathias. Former members include Michael Thomas, Jason James and Nick Crandle; the latter were on bass. They were formed under the name Jeff Killed John and started their music career by covering songs by Metallica and Nirvana. Jeff Killed John recorded six songs which were not released; two of these tracks were reworked later in their career as Bullet for My Valentine. A change of style from Jeff Killed John's style, led the band to change their name. In 2002, the band secured a five-album deal with Sony BMG. The band has stated that their music is influenced by classic metal acts such as Metallica, Iron Maiden and Slayer. The band is part of the Cardiff music scene.

Protest the Hero Canadian progressive metal band

Protest the Hero is a Canadian progressive metal band from Whitby, Ontario. Originally named Happy Go Lucky, the band changed their name to Protest the Hero shortly before releasing their debut EP, Search for the Truth, in 2002. In 2005, the band released their first full-length album Kezia on Canadian indie label Underground Operations.

Rhapsody of Fire Italian band

Rhapsody of Fire is an Italian symphonic power metal band formed by Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli, widely seen as a pioneer of the symphonic power metal subgenre.

Job for a Cowboy American death metal band

Job for a Cowboy is an American death metal band from Glendale, Arizona. Formed in 2003, the band's debut album Genesis was released in 2007, peaking at No. 54 on the US Billboard 200 and selling 13,000 copies in its first week of release. The second album, 2009's Ruination, sold 10,600 copies in the United States in its first week to debut at position No. 42 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band comprises vocalist Jonny Davy, guitarists Tony Sannicandro and Al Glassman, bassist Nick Schendzielos, and drummer Chad Cortez. Davy is the only remaining founding member.

Ulcerate band

Ulcerate is a New Zealand-based extreme metal band formed by guitarist Michael Hoggard and drummer Jamie Saint Merat in 2000. The band have released five full-length studio albums to date. The band's fifth full-length album Shrines of Paralysis was released on 28 October 2016 on Relapse Records. The band have been featured in numerous articles as one of New Zealand's most prominent extreme metal acts, have toured widely across North America and Europe, and have been compared favourably to bands such as Neurosis and Gorguts. The band's sound has been described as "nauseating, disorienting and gleefully disharmonic", and is characterised by extremely technical death metal with extensive use of dissonance, time signature changes, and complex song structures.

Attila is an American metalcore band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 2005. They have released eight full length albums.

<i>De Vermis Mysteriis</i> (album) 2012 studio album by High on Fire

De Vermis Mysteriis is the sixth studio album by metal band High on Fire. Cover art was done by tattoo artist Tim Lehii.

Alex Garcia-Rivera is a drummer, drum-tech and recording engineer from Boston, Massachusetts. He has been the drummer for the bands Shelter, Piebald, Good Clean Fun, Bloodhorse, 454 Big Block, Saves The Day, Cold Cave, but is best known as the drummer for hardcore/punk band American Nightmare. He also performs all instruments in a solo band under the moniker Chrome Over Brass and owns and operates Mystic Valley Studio, an all-analog recording studio in Medford, Ma.

10 Years (band) American alternative metal band

10 Years is an American alternative metal band, formed in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, in 1999. The band consists of lead vocalist Jesse Hasek, lead guitarist Brian Vodinh, bassist Chad Grennor, rhythm guitarist Matt Wantland, and drummer Luke Narey. The group has gone through multiple line-up changes since their inception, with Vodinh and Wantland being the only remaining founding members. To date, they have released eight studio albums, their most recent being (How to Live) As Ghosts, released on October 27, 2017.

<i>Luminiferous</i> 2015 studio album by High on Fire

Luminiferous is the seventh studio album by American metal band High on Fire, released on June 23, 2015 through Entertainment One Music. The album was produced by Kurt Ballou who handled production on the band's previous release, De Vermis Mysteriis (2012). The gap between these albums is the longest for High on Fire.

<i>Electric Messiah</i> 2018 studio album by High on Fire

Electric Messiah is the eighth studio album by American metal band High on Fire, released on October 5, 2018 through Entertainment One Music. It is the band's third album to be produced by Kurt Ballou, and it serves as a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister of the band Motörhead. On August 6, 2018, Electric Messiah's title track was released early for streaming. On October 3, 2018, the band released "Spewn from the Earth" as the album's second single. The song "Electric Messiah" won the Best Metal Performance at the 2019 Grammy Awards.


  1. "About". High on Fire. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  2. "High On Fire - Official Relapse Records Band Page". Relapse.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  3. "High On Fire Complete Video For "Devilution" - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  4. "High On Fire Recruit Zeke Bassist For Tour - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  5. "High On Fire Announce Winter Tour Dates - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  6. "Gigantour 2008 Lineup Revealed - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  7. "Opeth Announces More Headlining US Tour Dates - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  8. "High On Fire To Enter The Studio - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  9. "Dethklok and Mastodon Announce Massive US Tour - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  10. "High On Fire Reveals New Album Artwork - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  11. "High On Fire Streaming New Song Online - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  12. "High On Fire Posts New Music Video Online - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  13. "High on Fire - new album (MP3) & 2010 tour dates w/ Priestess, Black Cobra & Bison B.C". Brooklynvegan.com. 2010-02-09. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  14. "High On Fire: announces spring tour dates with METALLICA". Centurymedia.com. 2010-04-06. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  15. O'Hagar, Sammy. "High On Fire's De Vermis Mysteriis: The Best Metal Album With "Mysteriis" In The Title Not Made By Mayhem". Metalsucks.net. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  16. Pelly, Jenn (2012-06-08). "High On Fire Cancel Tour, Matt Pike Entering Rehab".
  17. 1 2 Begrand, Adrien. "First Listen: High On Fire, 'Luminiferous'". NPR.org. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  18. Epstein, Dan. "High on Fire Talk Aliens, Acid Trips and Why New Album 'Doesn't Suck'". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  19. "High On Fire Win Best Metal Performance". Grammy.com. 1 February 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  20. "High on Fire Win Best Metal Performance at 2019 Grammys". Loudwire. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  21. https://pitchfork.com/news/high-on-fire-founding-drummer-des-kensel-announces-departure-after-21-years/
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "High On Fire Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  23. 1 2 "High On Fire - Spitting Fire live Vol. 1 & Vol. 2". Discogs.com. Discogs.com. Retrieved 8 September 2015.