Critic's Choice

Forget everything you've heard about nu-metal and go see High on Fire, which appears Thursday, September 12, and Friday, September 13, at the 15th Street Tavern, with Jucifer. This Oakland group, created two years ago from the ashes of Sleep, is the most vital force in the new wave of metal bands, and thank God they don't have a DJ. It's a classic, ear-pummeling power trio led by Matt Pike, who delivers a set of hurricane chords while shirtless and arched backward, like a Norse god unleashing an apocalyptic storm from deep in his lungs. Earlier this year, High on Fire released Surrounded by Thieves, a followup to the debut, The Art of Self Defense -- an amazing distillation of Sabbath, Metallica and the Melvins that is, hands down, the best metal album thus far in the new millennium. High on Fire is, quite simply, a mighty force of nature not to be missed.


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