High on Fire is a prominent name in the stoner/doom world, with 6 full length releases in more than a decade. The band formed as a result of ‘Sleep’ breaking up and has been consistently releasing influential albums in the stoner/sludge/doom domain. I admire their earlier albums, and their previous release ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ was interesting as well. Their latest album ‘Luminiferous’ follows the path of DVM with a polished and a lot more groovy sound. The tracks on the album are not one-dimensional throughout, which keeps the listener hooked to it for a majority of the 53 minutes it plays. The drumming as usual is commendable, whether it’s the groovy sludge sections or the doom tracks.
The album starts off with the track “The Black Plot” which waits for no one as it begins with a groovy riff and dives in with pace. It is heavy, but not something that will entice you. “Carcosa” begins with a simplistic mid-tempo riff but the riff that accompanies the slower tempo sections drags your attention back. “The Sunless Years” has some strong riffs in and a couple of cute little guitar solos that are really entertaining. Again, the slow tempo part at the end kept my drifting mind in line. “Slave the Hive” is a relentlessly heavy and fast-paced track with a lot of thrash and groove influence. Nothing spectacular yet, just a few interesting pieces here and there.
“The Falconist” is where the stoner riff hits you. This track is your traditional stoner/doom track with a thick riff , a slow tempo and a guitar solo to end it. “The Dark Side of the Compass” is another stoner influenced track, though this one is not as memorable as the previous track. “The Cave” features some acoustic guitars and a bit of psychedelic influences too. This is probably what infusing stoner metal into Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” would sound like. The title track displays quite a bit of the hardcore influence that HoF have showed occasionally in their career. This was the only fast-paced track that I really liked on this album. The final track “The Lethal Chamber” is another one of the doomy tracks that thrives on the chunky riffs that flow into each other smoothly.
I wish HoF included a lot more stoner and sludge in their music than the groovy or the thrash oriented sections. I am not really a fan of the vocals except for on the title track, which had a rougher hardcore stylized vocals. The album was up and down and all over for me, with the doom tracks being the most entertaining, while the modern groove influence of the first 4 tracks were boring. The drumming is consistently good, yet the riffs are not as pumping as they used to be in their early records. I would give this release a 6.5, and I can say that it would have been higher if I had listened to only the last 5 tracks.
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