Hopscotch announces first band of 2014 festival, hesher heroes High on Fire

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Matt Pike, with half of a shirt on!
  • Matt Pike, with half of a shirt on!
Last year at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival, stoner metal architects architects Sleep capped the weekend with a superlative set. Hopscotch has invited that band's guitarist, Matt Pike, to return to Raleigh in 2014, this time leading High on Fire. Following in its tradition of early metal announcements (see Swans, Sunn O))) and Sleep), High on Fire is the debut act of the 2014 festival. 

When Sleep broke up in 1998, it seemed as if the band bisected, its contradictory impulses forging their own respective paths in Om and High on Fire. Where the former reveled in methodical and meditative riffs, croaked mantras and tar-pit pacing, the latter offered a chest-thumping vision of classic metal, all bluster and might. 

As the band’s barrel-chested frontman, Pike is a sweat-drenched hesher archetype. His voice is a gravelly bellow; his riffs deliver as much function as flash. Fittingly, for six albums and more than 15 years, High on Fire has been a model of consistency. Within a midtempo comfort-zone, the band manages to balance Sleep’s heft with Mötorhead’s momentum. That was as clear on 2000’s auspicious stoner-metal debut, The Art of Self Defense, as it was on 2012’s brisker (and better) De Vermis Mysteriis.

With Pike’s voice aged into a low rasp worthy of Lemmy himself, the band’s latest never denies Pike’s pot-stoked past, but now the band is more dynamic and articulated. A proud descendant of metal’s whole history, High on Fire is a worthy bearer of its standard, and enough reason to excite even casual headbangers come September.

Tickets went on sale for Hopscotch 2014 yesterday, and organizers plan to announce the full lineup in April. INDY Music Editor Grayson Currin resigned from his post at Hopscotch in January. 

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