Your Choice Way

Pike vs the Automaton - Pike vs the Automaton Music Album Reviews

Pike vs the Automaton - Pike vs the Automaton Music Album Reviews
On his first solo album, the Sleep and High on Fire frontman hits the garage for a comfortable blend of his signature heavy metal sounds. 

Matt Pike is a man stuck out of time. The 49-year-old frontman of Sleep and High on Fire makes music that’s rooted in the elemental proto-metal of the early 1970s, but his sensibility dates back even farther than that. Pike feels most at home in the untamed forests of Oregon. He reflexively distrusts modernity and technology, and he’s outspoken in his disdain for anything with the faintest whiff of authority. (A recent interview in The Quietus revealed Pike’s eyebrow-raising takes on the pandemic and David Icke, but his brand of conspiracy theorist is more drunk uncle hunting for Bigfoot than Alex Jones-style disinformation artist.) Even his defiant, perpetually shirtless stage look suggests a return to the primeval, or the prenatal. His first-ever solo album, Pike vs the Automaton, embodies his caveman ethos with gusto. It’s an intoxicating draught of pure, unfiltered Pike.

Pike vs the Automaton feels instinctive and easygoing, like the guitarist fired up his amp while he was having his morning coffee, and these were the songs that spilled out. Some of those songs, naturally, sound a lot like his other bands. “Abusive” opens the album right in Pike’s sweet spot, with a stomping, Sabbath-on-speed riff and roaring vocals that give way to a frantic yet tuneful guitar solo. Pike can write songs like “Abusive” with his eyes closed, and for much of the album, he barely seems to break a sweat. He’s too good at what he does for that to be disappointing: “Trapped in a Midcave” is halfway between the seismic doom of Sleep and High on Fire’s careening gallop. And while it’s a comforting blend of the best qualities of both bands, it’s not as satisfying as the best material by either of them.

More thrilling are the moments when Pike uncovers a new way to express his musical id. Prior to Pike vs the Automaton, the closest he’d come to writing a country song was “The Cave,” a smoldering stoner metal epic from High on Fire’s Luminiferous. In comparison, the deep-in-the-pocket “Land” sounds like last call at the honkytonk. Pike trades bluesy solos with Brent Hinds of Mastodon, and Steve McPeeks anchors the song with a sturdy, stand-up bassline. “Land” is a tribute to the two-step country music Pike’s mom would dance to when he was growing up, and it highlights the influence of the women in his life. “Acid Test Zone” is an equally adventurous song at the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum, featuring throat-shredding guest vocals from Pike’s wife, Alyssa Maucere-Pike. Her pissed-off delivery is the perfect accompaniment to the first proper hardcore song in Pike’s songbook.

Collaboration, somewhat ironically, is a crucial part of Pike’s maiden solo outing. The genesis of the album came early in the pandemic, when he invited his friend (and dog-sitter) Jon Reid to come jam in the garage. With Reid on drums and Pike on guitar, the rough shape of the songs started to come together. Billy Anderson, who engineered earlier landmarks like Sleep’s Holy Mountain and High on Fire’s Surrounded by Thieves, came on board to produce, and a rotating cast of guest musicians popped by to add splashes of color. It’s a friends-and-family affair, with all the looseness that implies.

Sometimes that looseness crosses into shaggy self-indulgence. Pike vs the Automaton clocks in at a bloated 63 minutes, and some of its less distinctive songs sound like exactly what they are—a couple of bored, middle-aged dudes woodshedding in the garage. Still, its animating energy is admirable. Pike is biologically driven to write and play bodacious heavy metal riffs. In a rare moment when both Sleep and High on Fire were on hold, he did what he’s always done. He picked up his guitar.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Pike vs the Automaton - Pike vs the Automaton Music Album Reviews Pike vs the Automaton - Pike vs the Automaton Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, February 24, 2022 Rating: 5


Post a Comment