Guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, bass player George Rice, and drummer Des Kensel formed High on Fire in 1999, following the collapse of Pike’s previous band, doom metal titans Sleep. But while Sleep had built their fame on impossibly slothful tunes and copious weed consumption, High on Fire’s first release, The Art of Self Defense, displayed a far more aggressive though still fantasy-themed style of heavy metal. Released to mildly enthusiastic reviews, the album’s prospects suffered from label Man’s Ruin imminent bankruptcy, and it wasn’t until High on Fire landed on grindcore powerhouse Relapse Records for their second album, 2002’s devastating Surrounded By Thieves, that their abundant promise was rewarded. Extensive touring and an ever-increasing fan base followed, so that by the time they unleashed their third release, Blessed Black Wings, in early 2005 (introducing new bassist Joe Preston [ex-Thrones and Melvins]), High on Fire had earned their place as one of the most widely respected heavy metal outfits on the planet. Preston would be replaced by Jeff Matz, who would play on their 2007 release, Death Is This Communion. In 2010, High on Fire returned with their fifth studio album, Snakes for the Divine, released on Koch. De Vermis Mysteriis, which translates to “The Mysteries of the Worm,” followed in 2012. The following year the stoner metal masters released a pair of live albums, Spitting Fire Live, Vol. 1 and Spitting Fire Live, Vol. 2, capturing two skull-crushing performances in New York City with a two-album set.
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