The Art of Self Defense

High on Fire

MNRK Heavy • 2023

When I saw that The Art of Self Defense was reissued I had to report my findings in an in-depth listen to the album that reshaped, nay, reforged heavy metal in 2000. High on Fire is a band from Oakland, California and their front man cut his teeth on a project called Sleep, who are unequivocal heavyweights in the world of hard rock. Frontman, Matt Pike, has had a loyal cult following since the days of Sleep in the early 90’s. A notoriety that won them a Grammy in 2019 for the song “Electric Messiah” and placement in numerous shows and films. Pike’s music can be heard on the show Fear the Walking Dead and Sleep’s song “Dragonaut” was featured in the Harmony Korine film, Gummo. The Grammy Award-winning group, featuring bassist Jeff Matz, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, and new drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Melvins, Murder City Devils) has also completed work on its new, untitled ninth studio album and successor to 2018’s “Electric Messiah”. Recorded in Salem, Massachusetts with longtime producer Kurt Ballou, the new album is the first to feature drummer Willis, who joined High on Fire in 2021. Originally released in 2000 on the late Frank Kozik’s now defunct Man’s Ruin Records, The Art of Self Defense is a masterpiece of crushing guitars and hymns of all out destruction. This celebratory reissue is completely remixed by original producer, Billy Anderson, remastered by Justin Weis, and boasts a new alternative cover, expanded gatefold artwork, and the band’s self-titled demo as bonus tracks. This album is highly recommended to anyone that enjoys loud music and might have an intuitive inclination to take a listen if only from an inquisitive standpoint as the album continues to make impressions across genre lines.