Split Decision: OM vs. High On Fire

HIGH ON FIRE: Dude, where’s our bong?

(Southern Lord)


High on Fire
Death Is This Communion

By Robbie Mackey

Sleep still casts a mighty shadow more than a decade after the doom-mongers’ immaculate stoner metal opus Dopesmoker–the hour-plus track that landed the group in the back alley behind London Records, sans record deal and on the brink of collapse.

Post-breakup, guitarist Matt Pike moved on to flay frets in High on Fire, and the band’s furious Death Is This Communion goes down like codeine-laced Mastodon or Kyuss on blast. Serious gunk-metal. Then there’s OM, Sleep’s erstwhile rhythm section of bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius. The San Francisco duo’s fourth album, Pilgrimage, is a four-track meditation in rhythm and slow, purposeful movement.

If what killed you about Sleep was the riffage and bong water, the wild-eyed Communion is the clear-cut winner here. But if you appreciated the Cali trio’s space and transcendence, Pilgrimage landslides to victory.

Om: B+

High on Fire: B

MP3: OM,”Unitive Knowledge of the Godhead”

High On Fire, “Rumors of War”