Fifteen years since their debut, sludge-metal titans High on Fire retain their trademarked down-tuned guitars and Black Sabbath-inspired grooves on their seventh studio record. Hailing from Oakland, California the trio have been undeniably influential within the world of heavier guitar music through inspiring fellow abrasive metal outfits Mastodon and Coliseum. Luminiferous further cements the band’s respected status within the US underground scene and showcases the remarkable musicianship steadily honed throughout nearly-two decades of existence.
Like 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis, the album was produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou at his infamous Godcity studios. Ballou helps create a relentless sonic energy of hazily distorted guitars and pounding rhythms shown best on ‘The Sunless Years’. Matt Pike’s harmonised opening riff is a distinctive High on Fire piece and its mammoth sized attack will please fans of the band’s stoner-rock tendencies. Other highlights of the album are shown through the Iron Maiden-esque guitar breakdown on ‘The Falconist’. Drummer Des Kensel’s rhythmic intensity is a vital source of Luminiferous’ momentum and his technical proficiency allows the band to rarely waste a second throughout the album’s nine tracks.
Although Luminiferous is an overall success within the realms of mid-paced sludge-metal grooves, it goes little way into displaying a clear evolution in sound from any of the threesome’s previous work. The album has a typically enduring metallic drive that only really slows down on ‘The Cave’. This track at least exemplifies the trio’s progressive and cleaner textures against the ferocity of the album’s first burst of tracks. However, this change in dynamics is only a short break in an album that is largely a rehash of previous High on Fire output. Despite this, these criticisms shouldn’t bother loyal fans of the trio as the record’s earth-shaking soundscape is an easy pleaser for ardent followers of this brand of riff-driven metal.