‘Twas December 22nd and all through the house, no one was sleeping cuz I was blasting High On Fire to get ready for the concert that night. I mean seriously, what better way to ring in the holidays?

High On Fire mastermind/guitarist/singer Matt Pike came out on stage at Slim’s shirtless and ready to rock. One look at him and you can just tell that this guy is the real deal. He lives for metal. He is metal. To the bone. As his tight, three-piece band blasted through classics both old (“10,000 Years” from 2000’s The Art of Self Defense, “Devilution” off of 2005’s Blessed Black Wings) and new (my favorite being the pulsing, hypnotic “Madness of an Architect” from last year’s excellent De Vermis Mysteriis, which I named the best album by a local band in 2012), Pike never resorted to gimmicky stage moves or even any unnecessary crowd control. He let the music do all the work, which was just fine because High On Fire definitely brought the sludgy fury.

This was pretty much the perfect way to cap off a big year for the band. Despite some setbacks (Pike did a brief stint in rehab), High On Fire put out one of the best albums of their long career – De Vermis Mysteriis was given year-end best-of honors by everyone from Pitchfork to SPIN – and they closed out the year on another high night with their performance at Slim’s.

Lo-Pan and Goatwhore opened, but I only caught the end of Goatwhore’s set. They were definitely kicking out the extreme metal. And their bassist had a sticker on his amp that said “God has twelve dicks.” Now that’s fucking metal.

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