High On Fire
High On Fire
Background information
Origin Oakland, California, USA
Genres Sludge metal, Stoner Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal
Years active 1998 - Present
Labels Man's Ruin Records, Tee Pee Records, Relapse, Koch, E1, Southern Lord Records
Associated acts Sleep, Thrones, Earth, Melvins, Zeke, Below The Sound, Kalas, Asbestosdeath, Dear Deceased
Website Official Website
Current members Matt Pike
Jeff Matz
Des Kensel
Past members Joe Preston
George Rice

High On Fire are a heavy metal band from Oakland, California. Active since 1998, they were formed by Matt Pike and Des Kensel roughly six months after the dissolution of Sleep. Their music incorporates elements of Doom, Stoner and Thrash metal with lyrics based in mythology, spirituality and conspiracies.

The band's name is a play on the ELO song "Fire on High".


Beginnings: The Art of Self Defense and Surrounded By Thieves (1998 - 2003)Edit

High on Fire began in 1998, roughly six months after Sleep had broken up. Matt Pike began the band with Des Kensel, who at the time were working together for an office supply delivery company in the bay area[1], eventually recruiting bassist George Rice (Who auditioned with the band with the intents of being the singer). Matt Pike details the bands beginnings in a 2000 interview with

“Oh about 2 years ago...right after Sleep broke up, I had like a six month period where I just got depressed man...I just wanted to shoot myself and ahh... I just started going out to the garage and playing guitar dude and like I was `no`s not over...`there`s no way it`s I started fuckin` calling people dude...and asking them if they wanted to jam...I started with this friend of mine Carl...he was another guitar player...stated working some stuff out you know. He helped me on a couple of the songs on the first record...I found a bass player...which was not George at the time, it was this other guy. I got Dez`s number from my friend Jenna and I called him up and I`m like `dude if you want to jam, just like call me and cruise down man...I`m looking for a drummer and that`s the main thing I need more than anything...I need a solid rhythm section you know?` He came down and just punished...right off the bat...I knew he was staying...”
— Matt Pike,, 2000 [2]

The band's first show was 23 November 1998 at the Covered Wagon in San Fransisco alongside Bimbo Toolshed and Speedealer.[3] Their second show was alongside Neurosis at the Justice League in San Fransisco. [4] Eventually the band would play more shows around the California area and release their self-titled EP in 1999 on 12th Records. Not long after the band would sign a deal with Man's Ruin Records, recruit Sleep producer Billy Anderson and release their debut full-length The Art of Self Defense. Touring would follow throughout the United States and Europe in 2000. A new website would follow as well.[5]

In 2001, High on Fire would sign a deal with Relapse Records. Eventually in 2002 the band would release Surrounded By Thieves. A music video for Hung, Drawn & Quartered with the video showing on MTV2's Headbangers Ball along with more and more touring eventually would widen their listening audience.[6] They would also play the Relapse Contamination Festival which would be recorded for a live album (Released in 2005). Tee Pee Records would also reissue The Art of Self Defense with bonus tracks.

The Relapse Years, Changing Bassists, and Blessed Black Wings (2004 - 2006)Edit

High on Fire would tour heavily in support of the recent album but also have new songs in the works such as "Cometh Down Hessian" and "Devilution".[7] However, George Rice would quit the band in the summer of 2004. Joe Preston would serve as his replacement leading up to the new album being recorded. The earliest known show with Preston on bass was on November 18, 2004 at Crazy Goat in Salt Lake City, Utah (With Big Business)[8].

High on Fire would record their third album with famed producer Steve Albini (Shellac, Big Black, Nirvana, Weedeater, etc.). Blessed Black Wings would be released on February 1, 2005 with a music video produced for "Devilution". The band would tour heavily in support of the album throughout that same year.

In 2006 after the first leg of the 2006 Blessed Black Wings tour, Preston would quit the band and Jeff Matz (Zeke) would join the band to fill out the second leg. By the end of the second leg he joined the band as a full-time member.[9]

In a 2007 interview, Pike and Kensel would speak about Joe's tenure and departure from the band:

“(Kensel) The thing with Joe is we basically talked to him and asked if he just wanted to be on the recording and he was like "Yeah, fuck yeah, man!". Then we got an offer to do a tour with Clutch. You wanna do the tour? "Yeah, sure I'll do the tour.". Oh, the record's out, you wanna do the first tour when the record's out? "Yeah, sure!".

(Pike) Then we smothered him with like, ten tours in a row and he's like "Jesus Christ, you guys are fucking insane!"

(Kensel) He lasted longer than I thought he would. (laughs)

(Pike) That shit was awesome. He was on tour for like eleven years so he just got to the point where he was like "I don't want to tour anymore, maybe I'll just be on that High on Fire record!" and, like, he got punished for it. (laughs) Joe, if you hear me saying this, I love you to death, man."

— Des Kensel and Matt Pike, WIR Atomkinder via YouTube, 2007 [10]

Jeff Matz, Health Issues and Death Is This Communion (2006 - 2009)Edit

At the time of Preston's breakup the band actually contacted Hank Williams III with the possibility of being a touring bassist but due to his extensively busy schedule he couldn't do it but ultimately Williams suggested Jeff Matz. With Matz now in tow as a bassist (and contributing songwriter) the band started work on their fourth album, opting to recruit Jack Endino to helm the production. Death Is This Communion would be released in September 2007 to critical acclaim.

The band would suffer some setbacks as Kensel would go in for neck surgery in September 2006 and later bone spurs in 2007. Shortly after recording Death Is This Communion, Jeff Matz would suffer for a Mallory-Weiss tear caused by food poisoning. Both musicians would recover and be right back on the road shortly after these respective setbacks.[11]

In 2008 the band would tour even more extensively for Death Is This Communion. Also of note is the band would sign a deal with Koch Records (Later to become E1 Entertainment) that same year.[12]

Snakes For The Divine, De Vermis Mysteriis and lifestyle changes (2010 - 2013)Edit

Sometime in 2009 the band would start work on their next album. High on Fire released Snakes For The Divine on February 23, 2010 to further critical acclaim. An extensive series of tours would follow that year including a tour supporting Metallica.

Soon after more tours the band would start work on a sixth album entitled De Vermis Mysteriis, produced by Kurt Ballou. It would be released on April 3, 2012. An intended tour on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival (Sharing the stage with bands like Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax and many more) would ultimately be canceled due to Matt Pike entering rehab for alcoholism. Despite a couple relapses, Pike would speak about going sober in a 2014 interview and enjoy the clear-headed mindset.[13]

2013 would begin with an exclusive appearance at Roadburn Festival for two nights, one of which the band would play The Art of Self-Defense in it's entirety. A re-issue of the band's debut album with bonus tracks and extensive photos was released in 2012 via Southern Lord Records.

Luminiferous (2014 - Present)Edit

Along with touring and an appearance on Motorhead's Motorboat festival, the band would slowly start work on their seventh album entitled Luminiferous. Recruiting Ballou a second time, the album would be released on E1 on June 23, 2015 with a multitude of tours to follow. An eighth studio album is in the works, set for a late 2017/early 2018 release according to Pike.

On 29 November 2017 the band announced a series of shows for 2018 entitled 20 Sunless Years with High on Fire in celebration of the band's twentieth anniversary, intending to compose a set of old and new songs, some of which selected by the fans.[14] On 18 July 2018, further details were announced that High on Fire's eighth studio album Electric Messiah was set for an October release.


Studio AlbumsEdit

Live AlbumsEdit

Misc. ReleasesEdit

  • High on Fire (EP) (1999, 12th Records)
  • Split with Mastodon (2003, Relapse)
  • Split with Ruins (2005, Relapse / Skin Graft)
  • Split with Baroness and Coliseum (2007, Relapse)
  • Speak In Tongues (2010, adult swim)
  • Split with Valiant Thorr (2012, Volcom)
  • Slave The Hive (2013, Scion Audio/Visual)


Current MembersEdit

Former MembersEdit


  • 2000 - USA Tour 2000[16]
  • 2000 - European Tour 2000[17]
  • 2001 - Summer USA Tour 2001 (Two Canadian Dates Canceled)[19]
  • 2001 - Le' Fire (Canceled)[20]
  • 2002 - January 2002 Tour[21]
  • 2002 - March 2002 Tour[22]
  • 2002 - Fall 2002 United States/Japan Tour (With Mushroomhead and Superjoint Ritual)[23]
  • 2003 - Summer 2003 Tour [25]
  • 2003 - Fall 2003 Tour (With Andrew W.K.) [26]
  • 2004 - Spring 2004 Tour
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Tour (With Kylesa, Planes Mistaken For Stars)[28]
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings European Tour [29]
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Fall Tour (With The Red Chord, The Chariot, Every Time I Die)[30]
  • 2006 - Blessed Black Wings 2006 Tour (With Big Business, The Bronx, Buried Inside, Goatwhore, Watch Them Die; Joe Preston on first leg of tour and Jess Matx on the second leg) [31]
  • 2007 - Death Is This Communion Tour (With MONO, Panthers, Coliseum) [32]
  • 2008 - Gigantour 2008 (With Megadeth, In Flames, Children of Bodom) [36]
  • 2008 - Fall Tour 2008 (With Opeth, Baroness; Nachtmystium was intended to play but dropped off.) [37]
  • 2009 - Fall Tour 2009 (With Mastodon, Dethklok and Converge)[39]
  • 2009 - Australian Tour 2009 (With Lamb of God)[40]
  • 2010 - May European Tour 2010 (With Metallica)[42]
  • 2010 - Winter European Tour 2010 (With Fear Factory, Daath)[45]
  • 2011 - Australia, New Zealand and Japan Tour 2011 (With Melvins; Partially canceled)[46]
  • 2012 - Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival (Canceled)[48]
  • 2012 - Australian Mini-Tour 2012[49]
  • 2012 - Fall 2012 Tour (With Goatwhore, Primate, Lo-Pan[50]
  • 2013 - European Tour 2013[51]
  • 2013 - Metal Alliance 2013 (With Anthrax, Exodus, Holy Grail, Municipal Waste)[52]
  • 2014 - Spring 2014 Shows
  • 2014 - Australian Tour 2014 [54]
  • 2014 - Coverse Rubber Tracks Tour [56]
  • 2015 - Summer European Tour 2015[58]
  • 2015 - Luminiferous North American Tour (With Pallbearer, Lucifer, Venomous Maximus)[59]
  • 2015 - Winter Tour 2015 (With Crowbar) [61]
  • 2016 - Australasia Tour 2016 [62]
  • 2016 - The Decibel Magazine Tour 2016 (With Abbath, Skeltonwitch, Tribulation) [63]
  • 2016 - Luminiferous Tour 2016 (North American Leg) (With Meshuggah) [64]
  • 2016 - Luminiferous Tour 2016 (European Leg) (With Meshuggah)
  • 2017 - West Coast Mini-Tour 2017 (With Archons) [65]
  • 2018 - 2018 North American Mini-Tour
  • 2018 - 20 Sunless Years With High on Fire: Spring European Leg [66]
  • 2018 - 20 Sunless Years With High on Fire: Fall European Leg (With Enslaved)[67]
  • 2018 - The Speed of The Wizard (With Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Haunt)

External LinksEdit


  1. [Decibel Magazine Issue 66, pg. 63]
  2. via Wayback Machine Interview with High on Fire, accessed 1st August 2016
  3. Codeword SFAccessed 16 January 2017
  4. [Decibel Magazine Issue 66, pg. 64]
  5. via Wayback MachineAccessed 1st August 2016.
  6. via Wayback MachineAccessed 1st August 2016
  7. YouTube High on Fire - 05/01/04 @ Sabala's, accessed 1st August 2016.
  8. via Wayback MachineAccessed 1st August 2016
  9. Last.fmJoe Preston leaves High on Fire, accessed 1st August 2016
  10. YouTubeHigh on Fire playing a game of "Threes" + Interview Talk, accessed 1st August 2016.
  11. [Decibel Magazine Issue 66, pg. 66]
  12. MetalStorm Accessed 1st August 2016
  13. YoutubeHIGH ON FIRE Interview 2014 "I play much better clearheaded"...MATT PIKE, accessed 1st August 2016
  14. High on Fire's FacebookAccessed 29 November 2017
  15. Setlist.fmAccessed February 26, 2016.
  16. Highonfire.comAccessed March 4, 2016.
  17. Highonfire.comAccessed March 4, 2016.
  18. Highonfire.comAccessed March 4, 2016.
  19. Highonfire.comAccessed March 14, 2016.
  20. Highonfire.comAccessed March 14, 2016.
  21. High on Fire Official PageNews, accessed February 26, 2016
  22. High on Fire Official PageNews, accessed February 26, 2016
  23. High on Fire Official PageNews, accessed February 26, 2016.
  24. High on Fire Official PageNews, accessed February 26, 2016.
  25. High on Fire Official PageAccessed February 26, 2016.
  26. High on Fire Official PageAccessed February 26, 2016
  27. BlabbermouthAccessed March 4, 2016.
  28. High On Fire Official PageAccessed February 26, 2016.
  29. High On Fire Official PageAccessed March 2, 2016.
  30. PunknewsAccessed 10 February 2017
  31. BlabbermouthAccessed March 2, 2016.
  32. High on Fire Official PageAccessed March 2, 2016
  33. BlabbermouthAccessed 31 December 2017
  34. High on Fire Official PageAccessed March 2, 2016
  35. High on Fire Official PageAccessed March 2, 2016
  36. BrooklynVeganAccessed March 2, 2016
  37. MetalInjectionAccessed March 2, 2016
  38. BlabbermouthAccessed March 4, 2016.
  39. MetalInjectionAccessed March 4, 2016
  40. The ObeliskAccessed March 4, 2016.
  41. High on Fire's Official PageAccessed March 4, 2016.
  42. High on Fire Official PageAccessed March 4, 2016
  43. High on Fire Official PageAccessed March 4, 2016.
  44. Consequence of Sound)Accessed March 4, 2016
  45. BlabbermouthAccessed March 4, 2016.
  46. BlabbermouthAccessed March 4, 2016.
  47. ThePRPAccessed March 4, 2016
  48. PitchforkAccessed March 4, 2016.
  49. FacebookAccessed March 4, 2016.
  50. BrooklynVeganAccessed March 4, 2016.
  51. The QuietusAccessed March 4, 2016.
  52. BrooklynVeganAccessed March 4, 2016.
  53. BrooklynVeganAccessed March 4, 2016.
  54. FacebookAccessed March 4, 2016.
  55. FacebookAccessed March 4, 2016.
  56. Action-PrAccessed March 4, 2016.
  57. BrooklynVeganAccessed March 4, 2016.
  58. FacebookAccessed March 4, 2016.
  59. ExclaimAccessed March 4, 2016.
  60. FacebookAccessed March 4, 2016.
  61. LoudwireAccessed March 2, 2016
  62. Themusic.comAccessed March 2, 2016
  63. MetalInjection
  64. LoudwireAccessed 17 July 2016
  65. FacebookAccessed 14 December 2016
  66. High on Fire FacebookAccessed 23 January 2018
  67. High on Fire Facebook
V·T·E High on Fire
Current Members Matt PikeDes KenselJeff Matz
Past Members George RiceJoe Preston
Studio Albums The Art of Self DefenseSurrounded By ThievesBlessed Black WingsDeath Is This CommunionSnakes For The DivineDe Vermis MysteriisLuminiferousElectric Messiah
Extended Plays High on Fire
Live Albums Live from the Relapse Contamination FestivalSpitting Fire Live Vol. 1Spitting Fire Live Vol. 2
Associated Bands, Artists, Etc. SleepKalasDear Deceased • Zeke • EarthMelvinsHarvey Milk