High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate, Lo-Pan at The Middle East, Cambridge on Saturday, November 24, 2012.
This is the first time for me seeing Matt Pike post-rehab (after the Sleep tour, the dates on the Mayhem tour were canceled), and the best of the four times I've seen High on Fire play their molten riffs. Even with playing a new guitar (sadly, his tobacco finish Les Paul was filched from an Oakland practice space), Pike had full command of tone and tenor, with über rhythm section Jeff Matz and Des Kensel firing like a V twin gorged on rocket fuel. While the new De Vermin Mysteriis record is quite solid, the band tore through material spanning their entire career, and put a big celebratory cap on the reissue of their debut The Art Of Self Defense with a withering version of "10,000 Days". Welcome back, Pike.
Goatwhore must be at the top of the heap for most t shirt designs for sale, but their creativity kinda peaks around there. This self-proclaimed 'blackened death metal' band does howl in the right spots, and gutairist (ex-Acid Bath) Sammy Duet was more than proficient at shredding the fretboard but the overall sound just sorted jelled into one long black howl. Bonus points for singer L Benjamin Falgoust II having the front man chops to back up a name like that.
Primate is the answer to 'what Georgia post-hardcore band features members of Brutal Truth and Mastodon?". Yep, Kevin Sharp takes the stage in barefoot and beers in the pants of pockets while Bill Kelliher mans the Les Paul and cranks out turbo riffs. This could be a fun band to play in, but their lack of differentiation in the speed riff game didn't help matters. Their after-party Brooklyn show a week before had them playing nothing but Black Flag covers, and they reeled off a very strong "Gimme Gimme Gimme." I'd take more of that, please.
Lo-Pan drew opening duties and churned out a convincing version of hard riff action that would make Lemmy's mole twitch. Bonus points for a singer, not a screamer.