High On Fire - The Art Of Self Defense LP
(Man's Ruin Records, 2000 - Southern Lord, 2012)
“To those who haven’t previously spent time amongst these syrupy waves, be forewarned that this isn’t the speed demon High On Fire you became familiar with through albums such as Blessed Black Wings… this is amongst the heaviest and most pure stoner rock of Pike’s post-Sleep career. This is truly the shifting phase between what Pike, Cisneros, and crew did with Sleep and what would come later with High On Fire. The intent to pummel through the repetition of elephantine riffage was here from the beginning, as was Pike’s swirling and echo-laiden soloing, but it was not until later that his obsession with Motörheadish thrashing would show up to send the riffs to the races.
Nearly all of The Art of Self Defense has a mid-paced, almost laid back feel (laid back in a metal sense only of course), coming through as some of the more open jams of the band’s career. None of these songs, not even the more direct opener “Bagdad,” go for the jugular with aggression, despite the band’s delivery containing plenty of bludgeoning violence (Des Kensel was already a beast of the skins here). Instead, grooves develop, hooks are strewn in where necessary, and for the most part the band’s collective chemistry is allowed to live on its own.” - Zach Duvall for Your Last Rites