High On Fire Surrounded By Thieves

The first noticeable thing about the sophomore record from Oakland, CA's High On Fire is the sheer ferocity of it. On their new full-length, their first for new label Relapse, High On Fire has upped the ante and made one of the most brutal records so far this year. "The tempos are a little faster this time around," agrees guitarist/singer Matt Pike. "They are more on the metal side and the arrangements are a little bit more busy." Produced again by Billy Anderson, whom Pike has worked with exclusively since his days in the now-legendary Sleep ("I have never really been recorded by anyone else"), Surrounded By Thieves is an aural tour de force. Led by Pike's guitar wizardry, which is similar in style to that of both Tony Iommi and the Obsessed/Spirit Caravan’s Scott "Wino” Weinrich, the power-trio delivers eight new tracks that have more in common with Motörhead than Black Sabbath. A major reason for this is Pike's vocals, something which he admittedly is still getting used to doing but has improved at. "My voice is starting to last longer and I am managing to stay in key a lot longer," says Pike. "When I started singing and playing guitar together it was like learning another instrument, except this one I have to take care of all the time. I have to take my voice into consideration on tour and be a little mellower on the road." Immediate plans for the band are to do a North American tour with label-mates Mastadon and they are hoping to head over to Europe for the first time later this year. They are a band definitely not to be missed in a live setting and, as Surrounded By Thieves proves, High On Fire is becoming a pretty amazing band on record too. (Relapse)