High On Fire / The Bronx Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - February 8, 2006

Thanks to a plethora of legal issues, it's been, well, never since doom metal merchants High On Fire have successfully met their headlining intentions for Canada. Sure, they managed to whip it out during last summer's Sounds of the Underground for a whopping 25 minutes, but with High On Fire, that's barely enough time to hit the first chorus of their epic brimstone and fire fantasies. That, coupled with the desperate desire to win over a few scenesters only in attendance to witness California buzz-band the Bronx, saw guitarist/singer Matt Pike, bassist Joe Preston and drummer Des Kensel on overdrive during their hour-plus set. Sadly, as is their riff/stoner/boogie rock standard, the Green Amplifiers were so loud that Pike's guitar wasn't even running through the P.A., relegating him to background mud behind the thunderous bass and clashing drum kit. Despite the deplorable sound, Pike was frenzied, stomping around the towering Lee's stage and packing in renditions of almost every track from their third Relapse effort, Blessed Black Wings, such as "The Face Of Oblivion," "Cometh Down Hessian" and set-closer "Devilution." Amusingly enough, while his was the only action, Pike was still somewhat second-fiddle to former Melvins four-stringer Preston, who stood stoically at stage right but awesomely manhandled his instrument into submission. Overall, High On Fire needn't have worried about matching their openers. While tight and professional, the Bronx were far from a spectacle. Their cockiness and demeanour were so genuine that it seemed as if they didn't even have to try to be jerks. Singer HYPERLINK "http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:rcjxlfhe0cqu" Matt Caughthran spent most of his time hunched over the drum kit instead of addressing the masses, giving the impression that the Bronx obviously read their own press and have come to believe that they are the Second Coming of "anti-emo." It only proved that High On Fire's aged wisdom delivered the goods and any anxiety over being shown up by hype was unnecessary. The Bronx can learn a thing or two from their headliners.