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The Casbah was the epicenter of seismic activity as Archons, Abrupt, Bison B.C., and Black Cobra conspired to collapse the Midtown venue. The night's most cataclysmic activity, however, came from Oakland’s trio of doom High on Fire.

Motivated by Black Cobra, the moshers were spurred into overdrive by High on Fire's galloping "Frost Hammer." Bodies slammed and shed sweat. A shoe was held aloft and then lost amidst the current of the pit. The kinetic "Devilution," propelled by Des Kensel's furious drumming, fanned the frenzy. During the ominous "How Dark We Pray," a pit evacuee jumped, for the second time, onto the stage. Jeff Matz let go of his bass long enough to drive him back down.

High on Fire, headed by guitarist-vocalist Matt Pike, executed their hopped-up-resin-metal with workman-like professionalism. They eschewed "hits" such as "Baghdad" and "Turk" in favor of deep-catalog nuggets like "The Yeti." Yet not until "Cometh Down Hessian" (which perhaps was an invocation) did Pike seem to embody his old self: a shirtless, demon-tattooed, nine-stringed-guitar-slinger.

With a rasp, Pike spoke, "Thanks for coming out. We love San Diego a lot! This is the title-track from our latest album!" As the sinewy guitar lines leapt from his axe, Pike lifted his chin and shared a devilish grin as if acknowledging he had saved the best for last. Hunched-over, he strafed the audience with his guitar.

The band encored with the lumbering "Bastard Samurai," a de-facto soundtrack to any slow-mo hari-kari scene. Overcome, the Archon's bassist lurched onto the stage and embraced Pike in a bear hug. The moment was priceless, and the band took the cue, disappearing into the night.

  • Concert: High on Fire
  • Date: April 25
  • Venue: Casbah
  • Seats: general
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