Almost as heavy as the music, Matt Pike & Co. via Southern Lord Records bring us a remastered reissue of their debut album The Art Of Self Defense (2000). The album as featured here presents a cool clear red color and is limited to 1,000 pressings. It comes to my understanding that there are other colors pressed such as a brown that’s limited to 500, and also a clear pressing as well.
Metal fans should rejoice as the remastering process around this album has been handled with great care. Brad Boatright (also the master engineer of the Southern Lord 2012 reissue of Sleep’s Dopesmoker) takes the lead here so ears be praised as everything comes at you hazy and heavy, the way any stoner, sludge metal fan would want it.
The album its self comes packaged up in a nice sturdy, textured duel gatefold sleeve along with nice band pictured album jackets. Opening up the gatefold reveals a 20 page book inside with photos of High On Fire in their early days. The tracks all have a fantastic Sleep influenced sound, it’s interesting because as we know High On Fire today, they like to present themselves with a bit of a thrash/hardcore edge. Of course they’re still influenced by sludge and its stoney tendencies, but hearing the early stages talent blossoming is exciting in its own right.
Album highlights include “Last” which has to be heard to be believed. Other bonuses include a rip roaring riff fest of Celtic Frost’s “The Usurper”. Rounding out the album is a cool round of tracks from their 1999 self-titled demo. One gripe I have about the music is that Matt Pike’s vocals seem to get smothered a bit by the music, a bit nervous perhaps. That aside any fan of High on Fire, Sleep, or sludge in general should try and add this to their collection. The remaster, the tracks, the bone crushing riffs and packaging make this a reissue to look for so pick it up and take it for a spin.
High On Fire Website
High On Fire Facebook
Southern Lord Records
-Spotlight by Christopher Tahy
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