Fear, Emptiness, Decibel: High on Fire Hall of Fame
Before there were blogs there were these things called magazines, and the only metal magazine we still get excited about reading every month is Decibel. Here’s managing editor Andrew Bonazelli…
In 2009, your MS overlords stoked much uproarious overreaction with their list of “The 21 Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century (So Far).” Which is cool—that’s what lists are for. A follow-up post revealed that Death Magnetic came in at #22, presumably as the result of inspired trolling, but let’s not let that invalidate the entire endeavor. Scoring enough to earn a more-than-respectable slot at #38 was High on Fire with 2002’s stoner metal opus Surrounded by Thieves. We at Decibel think highly of the Oakland trio’s second album, too—enough to afford it Hall of Fame induction in the October issue.
Plenty of bands—especially heavy bands—go through some rough times. It’s a labor of love (and not just in the Frente sense) to conceive, execute, record and tour off music that 99 percent of the civilized world still actively scoffs at. But, man, High on Fire went through some gritty bullshit… as if it could be any other way. Take it from here, guys:
MATT PIKE: “We did some brutal tours. Ten and a half weeks of our van breaking down, having no money, fixing our van on the side of the road. When we got home, we to sleep in what we called “Hotel Penske.” I lived in that thing for years. There’s a lot of DNA in that thing.
DES KENSEL: “It was a few years of [George Rice] being broke, partying a lot, feeling like shit, being beaten down after a tour, coming home and sleeping in the Penske truck outside my basement window. It was rough. He just checked out.
GEORGE RICE: “I got bombarded with a bunch of life crap. Being homeless again. I think I was 34. I was getting too old for it.”
Sure, High on Fire wound up on their feet—sans Rice, who was replaced by Joe Preston on breakout Blessed Black Wings, prior to current bassist Jeff Matz joining the fold in 2007—but the grind to create Thieves’ macho world of “tough guys, battles and bloodshed” was by no means easy. Although HOF did get to tour with the also-nascent Mastodon to support the record, which is totally badass. Read all about the further misadventures.