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High On Fire
High On Fire.jpg
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, Southern Lord Records, Relapse, Koch, E1
Associated acts Sleep, Thrones, Earth, Melvins, Big Business, Kalas, Asbestosdeath, Dear Deceased, Zeke, Below The Sound, Trap Them, Coliseum, Mutoid Man
Website Official Website
Current members Matt Pike
Jeff Matz
Coady Willis
Past members George Rice
Des Kensel
Joe Preston
Nick Parks
Christopher Maggio

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. Through a career spanning over twenty years High on Fire have managed to release eight studio albums and tour all over the world. The band also notably won a Grammy for their 2018 song "Electric Messiah".

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)[]

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 Stonerrock.com:

“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 way...it`s not over...`there`s no way it`s over...so 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, Stonerrock.com, 2000 [2]

The band's first show was 23 November 1998 at the Covered Wagon Saloon in San Francisco alongside Bimbo Toolshed and Speedealer.[3] Their second show was alongside Neurosis at the Justice League in San Francisco. [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 September 2001, High on Fire would sign a deal with Relapse Records.[6] Recording in January with Billy Anderson,[7] on 28 May 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.[8] 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.

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".[9] 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 18 November 2004 at Crazy Goat in Salt Lake City, Utah (With Big Business)[10].

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.[11]

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 [12]

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

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.[13]

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.[14]

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

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.[15]

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 and Electric Messiah (2014 - Present)[]

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.[16] On 18 July 2018, further details were announced that High on Fire's eighth studio album Electric Messiah was set for a 5 October release. The band would tour Europe with Enslaved in support of the album. A tour was planned with Municipal Waste but an emergency surgery leaving a portion of Pike's toe being removed forced the band to drop off, rescheduling dates for 2019. On 7 December 2018 it would be announced that Electric Messiah would be nominated for "Best Metal Performance" at the 2019 Grammy Awards. On 7 January 2019 it would be announced that the January High on Fire tour would be canceled due to Matt Pike battling diabetes and being at risk of losing another toe or possibly even his foot.[17]

On 10 February 2019 High on Fire would win the Grammy for "Best Metal Performance" with "Electric Messiah". In March the band would announce an EP recorded entitled Bat Salad. Recorded after the band was forced to cancel touring in 2018, the band recorded a new song and two covers with the EP being released exclusively on Record Store Day circa 13 April. The band would follow with a string of shows in May throughout various parts of the United States. Not long after announcing a North American tour for November 2019, on 25 June 2019 Des Kensel announced that he would no longer be performing with High on Fire after 21 years, opting to focus on family.[18]

Nick Parks would fill in for the band's appearance at Psycho Las Vegas while Christopher Maggio (Trap Them, Coliseum, Mutoid Man) would take over drum duties starting with the November tour. High on Fire would play their first show in over a year on 19 June 2021 at Austin Motocross Park in Del Valle, TX, alongside Duel and Greenbeard.[19] On 19 June 2021 (the day of the return show) it would be revealed that Coady Willis (Murder City Devils, Big Business, Melvins) would be joining the band on drums.[20] The first recording the band would do with Willis would be a cover of "Iron Fist" by Motorhead for a tribute album curated by Psycho Las Vegas.

Along with confirming a ninth album in the works, High on Fire would announce an extensive summer tour of Europe in March 2022.[21]


Studio Albums[]

Live Albums[]

EPs and Singles[]


  • Split with Mastodon (2003, Relapse)
  • Split with Ruins (2005, Relapse / Skin Graft)
  • Split with Baroness and Coliseum (2007, Relapse)
  • Split with Valiant Thorr (2012, Volcom Entertainment)


Current Members[]

  • Matt Pike - Guitar, Vocals (1998 - Present)
  • Jeff Matz - Bass, Vocals (2006 - Present)
  • Coady Willis - Drums (2021 - Present)

Former Members[]

  • Des Kensel - Drums (1998 - 2019)
  • George Rice - Bass (1998 - 2004)
  • Joe Preston - Bass (2004 - 2006)
  • Nick Parks - Drums (2019; Psycho Las Vegas)
  • Christopher Maggio - Drums (2019 - 2020)

List of Known Tours[]

  • 1999 - 1999 European Tour (With Alabama Thunderpussy)
  • 1999 - 1999 North American Tour
  • 1999 - Fall 1999 Tour[22]
  • 2000 - January 2000 North American Tour (With Cavity)[23]
  • 2000 - March 2000 North American Tour[24]
  • 2000 - European Tour 2000 (With Alabama Thunderpussy)[25]
  • 2000 - September / October 2000 North American Tour (With Acid King)[26]
  • 2000 - Canada Tour 2000 (With Voivod)[27]
  • 2000 - Fall USA Tour 2000 (With Acid King, Spirit Caravan, Suplecs on select dates)[28]
  • 2001 - Summer USA Tour 2001 (Two Canadian Dates Canceled)[29][30]
  • 2001 - Le' Fire (Canceled)[31]
  • 2002 - January 2002 Tour[32][33]
  • 2002 - March 2002 Tour (With Lost Goat)[34][35]
  • 2002 - Summer 2002 North American Tour (With Mastodon; Select dates with Bongzilla)[36]
  • 2002 - September 2002 North American Tour (With Jucifer)[37][38]
  • 2002 - October 2002 North American Tour (Select dates with Mushroomhead, Superjoint Ritual, Shadows Fall, Avenged Sevenfold)[39][40]
  • 2002 - Extreme The Dojo Japan Tour[41]
  • 2003 - European Tour 2003 (With Mastodon) [42]
  • 2003 - Summer 2003 Tour [43]
  • 2003 - Fall 2003 Tour (With Andrew W.K.) [44]
  • 2004 - Relapse Contamination Tour 2004 (With Dysrhythmia, Zeke)[45]
  • 2004 - August/September 2004 North American Tour (With Bongzilla, Totimoshi, Hammers of Misfortune)[46][47][48]
  • 2004 - Fall 2004 Tour (With Clutch, Fu Manchu; Joe Preston on bass) [49][50][51]
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Tour (With Kylesa, Planes Mistaken For Stars)[52][53][54]
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Spring European Tour (2005)[55][56]
  • 2005 - Extreme The Dojo Vol. 14 (2005)
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Summer European Tour [57]
  • 2005 - Sounds of The Underground (With Lamb of God, A Life Once Lost, All That Remains)
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Fall Tour (With The Red Chord, The Chariot, Every Time I Die)[58][59]
  • 2005 - Blessed Black Wings Winter European Tour (Select Dates with Mastodon, Withered)[60][61][62]
  • 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 Jeff Matz on the second leg) [63][64][65][66]
  • 2006 - 2006 European Tour (2006)[67]
  • 2006 - Fall 2006 North American Tour (2006)[68]
  • 2007 - Death Is This Communion Summer North American Tour (With Don Caballero)[69][70]
  • 2007 - Death Is This Communion September UK/Europe Tour (With Russian Circles)[71][72]
  • 2007 - Death Is This Communion Tour (With Mono, Panthers, Coliseum) [73][74]
  • 2007 - 2007 UK Tour (With Pelican) [75][76]
  • 2008 - Winter 2008 Tour (With Saviours, A Life Once Lost; Select dates with Rwake, Archons, Intronaut) [77][78]
  • 2008 - Gigantour 2008 (With Megadeth, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Job For A Cowboy) [79][80]
  • 2008 - Fall Tour 2008 (With Opeth, Baroness; Nachtmystium was intended to play but dropped off.) [81][82]
  • 2009 - August California Tour 2009 (With Early Man)[83][84]
  • 2009 - Fall Tour 2009 (With Mastodon, Dethklok, Converge)[85][86]
  • 2009 - Australian Tour 2009 (With Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, Devildriver)[87][88]
  • 2010 - Snakes For The Divine Tour (With Priestess, Black Cobra, Bison B.C.)[89][90]
  • 2010 - May European Tour 2010 (With Metallica)[91][92]
  • 2010 - July Canadian Tour 2010 (With Skeltonwitch, Priestess, Russian Circles; Three additional US Dates.)[93][94]
  • 2010 - Sanctioned Annihilation (With Torche, Kylesa)[95][96]
  • 2010 - Winter European Tour 2010 (With Fear Factory, Daath)[97][98]
  • 2011 - Australia, New Zealand and Japan Tour 2011 (With Melvins; Partially canceled)[99]
  • 2011 - Fall California Tour 2011 (With Indian, Intronaut)[100][101]
  • 2012 - Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival (Canceled)[102]
  • 2012 - Australian Mini-Tour 2012[103]
  • 2012 - Fall 2012 Tour (With Goatwhore, Primate, Lo-Pan[104][105]
  • 2013 - European Tour 2013[106][107]
  • 2013 - Metal Alliance 2013 (With Anthrax, Exodus, Holy Grail, Municipal Waste)[108]
  • 2013 - Roadburn Festival
  • 2013 - Scion A/V North American Tour 2013 (With Kvelertak, Doomriders, Pack of Wolves, Windhand)[109][110]
  • 2014 - Spring 2014 Shows
  • 2014 - Australian Tour 2014 [111]
  • 2014 - European Tour 2014 (With Conan)[112]
  • 2014 - Converse Rubber Tracks Tour [113][114]
  • 2015 - January 2015 Tour (With Windhand)[115][116]
  • 2015 - April 2015 Tour (With Saviours)[117]
  • 2015 - Summer European Tour 2015[118]
  • 2015 - Luminiferous North American Tour (With Pallbearer, Lucifer, Venomous Maximus)[119][120]
  • 2015 - Fall European Tour 2015 (With Black Tusk, Bask)[121][122]
  • 2015 - Winter Tour 2015 (With Crowbar) [123][124]
  • 2016 - Australasia Tour 2016 [125]
  • 2016 - The Decibel Magazine Tour 2016 (With Abbath, Skeltonwitch, Tribulation) [126][127]
  • 2016 - Luminiferous Tour 2016 (North American Leg) (With Meshuggah) [128][129]
  • 2016 - Luminiferous Tour 2016 (European Leg) (With Meshuggah)[130]
  • 2017 - West Coast Mini-Tour 2017 (With Archons) [131]
  • 2018 - 2018 North American Mini-Tour
  • 2018 - 20 Sunless Years With High on Fire: Spring European Leg [132]
  • 2018 - 20 Sunless Years With High on Fire: Fall European Leg (With Enslaved)[133][134]
  • 2018 - The Speed of The Wizard (With Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Haunt; High on Fire dropped off.)[135]
  • 2019 - Electric Messiah North American Tour 2019 (With Toke, Year of The Cobra; Canceled)[136][137]
  • 2019 - May 2019 Mini-Tour
  • 2019 - Electric Messiah North American Tour 2019 (With Power Trip, Devil Master, Creeping Death)[138][139]
  • 2020 - 2020 European Tour (Canceled)
  • 2021 - 2021 Shows
  • 2021 - December 2021 Mini-Tour[140]
  • 2022 - 2022 European Tour[141]

External Links[]


  1. [Decibel Magazine Issue 66, pg. 63]
  2. Stonerrock.com 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. Stonerrock.com via Wayback MachineAccessed 1st August 2016.
  6. High on Fire Official via Wayback Machine
  7. High on Fire Official via Wayback Machine
  8. Stonerrock.com via Wayback MachineAccessed 1st August 2016
  9. YouTube High on Fire - 05/01/04 @ Sabala's, accessed 1st August 2016.
  10. highonfire.net via Wayback MachineAccessed 1st August 2016
  11. Last.fmJoe Preston leaves High on Fire, accessed 1st August 2016
  12. YouTubeHigh on Fire playing a game of "Threes" + Interview Talk, accessed 1st August 2016.
  13. [Decibel Magazine Issue 66, pg. 66]
  14. MetalStorm Accessed 1st August 2016
  15. YoutubeHIGH ON FIRE Interview 2014 "I play much better clearheaded"...MATT PIKE, accessed 1st August 2016
  16. High on Fire's FacebookAccessed 29 November 2017
  17. High on Fire Facebook
  18. High on Fire Facebook
  19. Doom, Stoner and Sludge Instagram
  20. Jeff Matz Facebook
  21. The Obelisk
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  23. Man's Ruin Records via Wayback Machine
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  27. Man's Ruin Records via Wayback Machine
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  30. Man's Ruin Records via Wayback Machine
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  33. Tee Pee Records via Wayback Machine
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V·T·E High on Fire
Current Members Matt PikeJeff MatzCoady Willis
Past Members George RiceJoe PrestonDes Kensel • Nick Parks • Christopher Maggio
Studio Albums The Art of Self DefenseSurrounded By ThievesBlessed Black WingsDeath Is This CommunionSnakes For The DivineDe Vermis MysteriisLuminiferousElectric Messiah
Extended Plays High on FireSpeak In TonguesBat Salad
Live Albums Live From The Relapse Contamination FestivalSpitting Fire Live Vol. 1Spitting Fire Live Vol. 2
Associated Bands, Artists, Etc. SleepKalasDear DeceasedEarthMelvinsHarvey Milk • Zeke