Cometh the Storm

Cometh the Storm

For the follow-up to their 2018 Grammy-winning Electric Messiah, stoner-metal trio High on Fire enlisted Big Business’ Coady Willis to replace longtime drummer Des Kensel. “Coady is one of our favorite drummers, and it just seemed like it would make sense musically,” bassist Jeff Matz tells Apple Music. “Once we started jamming with him, it became apparent that it was going to work out really well. He has his own style, but he understands the High on Fire aesthetic.” Despite winning the Grammy for Best Metal Performance for their last album, High on Fire felt no pressure in writing Cometh the Storm with a new member. “I don’t really think like that,” vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike says. “It was nice to be appreciated by our peers and such, but we didn’t really get to take full advantage of it because the world shut down not long after we won. I think we got exposed to a lot of people who hadn’t heard us prior to that, but that’s probably it. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be weird to win another one?” Below, Pike and Matz discuss each track on Cometh the Storm. “Lambsbread” Pike: “Well, I always have a song about weed. It’s basically a description of a bong hit working in a higher mental element, like what pot does to a meditative state, I guess. I don’t know how to word that correctly, but that’s just what pot does to you.” Matz: “The music for the chorus has been kicking around since probably 2010, and it reflects my obsession with Middle Eastern folk music, so we added some acoustic baglama to that part. The intro and outro just popped into my head when I was driving around, so I scat-sang it into my phone. It’s so Beavis and Butt-Head.” “Burning Down” Pike: “That’s more of a serious one, and it’s a tiny bit political. I’m calling out people like the World Economic Forum and the billionaires who fly around in jets and tell us if we give them a billion more dollars, they’re going to fucking fix the world for us. Who the fuck are these people?” Matz: “Musically, that was one that Matt and Coady were working on when I arrived at practice one day. That riff’s got old-school High on Fire vibes. It definitely harkens back to the early albums, but it’s got some really interesting little timing changes.” “Trismegistus” Pike: “The title means ‘thrice great,’ which comes from Hermes, who I always thought was an interesting character in mythology because he combined the wisdom of the material and the spiritual worlds. The music sounds kind of Egyptian, so in the lyrics, I’m talking about Osiris and Duat and Anubis. I’ve always been into esoteric mythology, but I’ve never really done one on Egypt.” Matz: “The verse riff came from when I was jamming with Coady down in LA. It reminded me of Lucifer’s Friend or something, like a weird classic-rock riff, but I tried to make it a little more like Voivod with some discordant intervals. The chorus uses a Middle Eastern scale, so I think that’s what set Matt off in that Egyptian lyrical direction.” “Cometh the Storm” Pike: “This is basically about nuclear war and how foolish it is. It’s kind of an elaboration of ‘Burning Down,’ how we’re just starting wars and talking about nuclear war like it’s normal.” Matz: “The track started out of a little thing I started playing at practice, just tapping on the bass, and Matt just started coming up with a vocal right on the spot. I really like the vocal melody, and it’s probably my favorite vocal performance on the whole album.” “Karanlık Yol” Matz: “I’ve been studying Turkish folk music pretty intensely since just before the pandemic. I’ve been studying the Turkish folk lute, the baglama, and just learning how to play different folk tunes and different styles with different teachers in Türkiye and the Philippines. So, I basically wanted to try to write something in the style of a Turkish folk dance because I think those types of sounds blend really well with the particular kind of heavy music that we play.” “Sol’s Golden Curse” Pike: “That’s the first song I wrote with Coady when I flew down to LA so we could feel each other out. I took something out of our riff vault, which is just hours and hours of music that me and Jeff have compiled over the years, and started working on it with Coady. Lyrically, it has more weird, esoteric shit about the Sethians and Abraxas.” “The Beating” Pike: “That’s our D-beat song. I’ve always been into the martial arts world, especially MMA and boxing, but I don’t do too many songs about it. This one’s pretty much about ring fighting. It seemed to take the right shape. It’s a ripper and definitely one of the faster-paced ones on the album. And I’ve got to put a [Jeff] Hanneman solo on every album, so this is the song.” “Tough Guy” Pike: “We’ve played with many hardcore bands in the past, so we were being smart-asses and wrote this hardcore breakdown about 10 years ago. It turned out really good, even though we were just joking around. But it’s got more of a metal mentality to it, just fighting and moshing, but it’s also about rebuilding our band from scratch. It’s truly violent sounding, so I went with that theme for the lyrics.” “Lightning Beard” Pike: “The title was kind of an inside joke between me and Jeff. I took this picture of him when he was posing all crazy with his bass, and I had this camera app, so I put all these lightning bolts all up in his beard and on his fretboard. We called it ‘Lightning Beard,’ which just sounded cool. But the song is about my El Camino. During COVID, I got it going really fast and was doing doughnuts in front of all the street racers, and they were cheering me on, so I made lyrics out of that.” Matz: “That’s another ripper that we came up with at practice. It’s got a pretty crazy freak-out section during the solo where the bass just completely goes nuts. It’s pretty fun.” “Hunting Shadows” Pike: “That one has some deep lyrics to me. I was just having a hard time with depression and my alcohol recovery and all sorts of stuff. I wrote that song not thinking about it, but really, I was trying to heal myself. I ate a bag of shrooms to try to figure out what the fuck was wrong with me. I thought I was singing those lyrics to someone else, but I was singing them to myself, so I had this crazy conundrum. But it’s about self-reflection.” Matz: “Musically, that one’s really interesting. It’s got more of a positive, hopeful energy to it that’s definitely a little bit different for us.” “Darker Fleece” Pike: “Once we started writing the new record, I went over to Jeff’s to put some ideas together. I had this riff, but it was so long and complicated. Then we made it more complicated by adding subdivisions. It’s almost a lesson in timing, how you can cut up a whole note into quarter notes and 32nd notes. Lyrically, it’s just about life and war—it’s very much a war march. I’m part Scottish, and Coady’s dad plays the bagpipes, so I put a bagpipe-style guitar solo on it.” Matz: The direction that Coady took with the drums on this song really changed the character of it and made it a lot heavier and beefier sounding. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the album. With the intro and outro, it seemed like the perfect closer track.”

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