So it can’t just be me that thinks Abbath and High on Fire is just a little bit of an odd pairing can it? I mean, High on Fire DID make a shirt exclusive for this tour featuring their Richard Pryor design wearing corpse paint, so it’s fair to say they know what’s going on. As you’d expect, the crowd was just as odd a mix of bearded stoner dudes there to see Matt Pike do his thing, as it was wiry longhairs with leather vests and predilections for spikes. As soon as you stepped foot inside the venue, you knew this was going to be an interesting show.
Tribulation were up first, playing black n’ roll that fits well with the sound Abbath is going for with his new project. It’s easy to see why he would bring them out with him. Skeletonwitch are a band that I’ve listened to off and on since they first came out, but not one I’ve ever had the chance to see live until now. I can’t chime in on how their new vocalist matches up with the old, but I can say that he isn’t lacking in vocal power or energy so that isn’t up for debate.
Going to a High on Fire show is kind of like smoking a big cannon of medical grade when all you are used to is the dirt weed you buy from your friends’ brother in that seedy apartment on the wrong side of town. Sure the dirt weed scratches the itch but it doesn’t affect you the same way. It’s a little bit thin, a little less satisfying and not nearly as powerful. Ditto for a High on Fire show. Their live show isn’t anything spectacular in regards to stage antics or rock star showmanship; it’s a workhorse. They roll out, hammer the audience with song after song, Matt Pike busts out ridiculous guitar work like it isn’t even a thing and then before your (likely stoned) brain can even fully comprehend what happened they are gone. You might not think my description of them being a workhorse band is complementary, but it is the highest praise I can muster. High on Fire is a band that seems eternal; there will always be a place for their brand of aggressive yet doomy metal that doesn’t fuck around with pretension or posturing.
Abbath demonstrated not only will he will do everything you would expect him to do in his live show (you all know what I’m talking about) , but he’ll do it with intense energy and make it fun. Right? Fun and black metal are usually foreign concepts but Abbath manages to be this exact larger than life fusion. Thinking back now, I’m not sure what I was expecting from an Abbath show, maybe something along the lines of what Mayhem does (minus Attila’s weird skull worship)? I certainly wasn’t anticipating the assault of light happened in front of me. Entering in a blinding flash, Abbath and crew played through a set that was a mix between his new material and Immortal songs, striking a nice balance between the two. I think it’s safe to say no one walked away from this show disappointed.
Words by Scotty Floronic
Photography by Robin Goodfellow
High on Fire