Lizard are a tough band to find anything out about. Men (and woman) of mystery they may be, but the three piece certainly make a pleasant noise. There are grunge and stoner elements to their progy metal brew, but the whole thing is driven along by some excellent double kick drumming. We would be interested in finding out more.
Next up are Jumping Jack. The name is awful, sounding like some horrible nightclub in a provincial town, but what we actually get is a French stoner band, who much like Lizard, are a very entertaining proposition New album “Trucks And Bones” has much to commend it, not least of which is “She Made No Resist.” Vocalist/guitarist Julian ensures there is plenty to enjoy throughout the brief half-hour sojourn. French might not be the first place you think of when it comes to metal, but now, slowly thanks to Gojira and the newer breed such as Jumping Jack, that perception might have to be re-thought.
What can we say about High on Fire? For 13 years now Matt Pike and his mates have been knocking out superior quality grooves. Sounding not unlike Motorhead playing Pantera covers. Their live shows are notoriously loud. When RTM last saw the group, in the middle of a three band bill topped by Fear Factory, in Nottingham a couple of years ago, Pike stood there shirtless, screaming something at the top of his lungs. We didn’t know what it was about – still don’t – but by golly, you had to admire the conviction.
Happily not much has changed in the intervening period. Pike, guitarist in the doom legends, Sleep, has had his brushes with ill health, but looks happy and healthy (and still shirtless) as he surveys the 500 or so people that have turned out to watch.
The crowd are rewarded with 80 minutes of some of the most powerful US stoner doom around. This is a set that doesn’t just concentrate on the last two albums “Snakes For The Divine” and current opus “De Vermis Mysteriis” – the pair of albums that have largely given them a profile on these shores – but rather spans much of their career.
However, it is with “Mysteriis’” opening track that they begin and “Serums of Liao” sounds as gargantuan as you might expect. This is followed up with the equally mighty “Frost Hammer” and the tone is set.
Pike keeps chatting to a minimum. Occasionally bellowing song titles when the mood takes him. One of the times he does this is to signal the start of “Rumors Of War” and another is to yell “Snakes For The Divine” – the slice of magnificence they choose to end with.
There is no encore, which perhaps sums the group up. They sound enormous, but there is absolutely nothing flashy about them whatsoever. In fact, a less rock-star-y bunch of rock stars you would struggle to find.
High on Fire are quite simply just a damn fine metal band, with damn fine songs and one which is best enjoyed live.