High on Fire and Saviours
The Constellation Room
Even though most of the massive crowd at the Observatory was there for the sold out emo pop punk band, The Used, the real heavy shit went down in the smaller, Constellation Room, where High on Fire and Saviours performed to an intimate crowd of onlookers and tattooed, longhaired head bangers.
Now that the corner office buildings are used by an urgent care center, a chunk of the once free parking in the back of the venue off limits. The early bird will definitely get the worm, if the worms are parking spaces at the Observatory.
Saviours appeared at exactly 9 p.m., and had the crowd swaying and banging their heads, slowly at first with a consistent build up. Based in Oakland, Saviours have been hashing out a wicked blend of doom, speed metal, stoner and classic metal, which refuses to confine itself into one genre of heavy music. Parts slow and bashing, others, faster and methodical, all played with intensity and passion.
Powerhouse drummer Scott Batiste held down the percussion end while guitarist Sonny Reinhardt and guitarist/vocalist Austin Barber dealt killer riffs that echoed through the room and allowed newcomer Andy Anderson to fill in the gaps with his insane handling of the bass. Saviours ripped through a 50-minute set that included several new songs from an album the band has coming out soon. With the sounds of Motorhead, Venom and Angel Witch, Saviours was the perfect musical appetizer for the main dish, High on Fire.
Matt Pike appeared once again shirtless alongside drummer Des Kensel, and bass player Jeff Matz. For a trio, High on Fire's sound was immense, epic, and heavily inspired by Sabbath and Venom. But hidden in the chaos is some intricate guitar wizardry, and Pike sure knows how to switch tempo without notice, into solidifying solos to thick and erratic riffs. The songs all conjure up images of ancient warfare, prophecy, mythology, and the occult and more esoteric matters.
Fans were caught up in the majestic heaviness, many fist pumping slightly swaying with the music, but the fury wasn't enough to incite a full on pit, High on Fire did however leave the front row and my other fans head banging, and as a gesture of common courtesy, someone lit a spliff during the second, song, 'Speedwolf' ad passed it around. The band also raged through songs like 'Hessian,' 'Fertile Green,' 'Snakes for the Divine' and many others.
High on Fire's nearly hour long set in Santa Ana, showed fans that even though he's the king of slow guitar riffs with Sleep, Matt Pike can also bring the speed and intensity of the music to a level where Sleep wouldn't dream of with High on Fire for an exciting sound of metal that has itself inspired many newer bands. At the end of the evening fans walked out deaf from the sheer volume of the amplification and power of the drums.