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Surrounded By Thieves

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iTunes Review

Coming out of Oakland, Calif., High on Fire is the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, who helmed the beloved stoner/doom metal group Sleep throughout the '90s. Building and expanding on that ferocious sound, High on Fire (with drummer Des Kensel and bassist George Rice) hit the scene in '98. The band released its debut album, The Art of Self Defense, two years later. Surrounded by Thieves appeared in 2002, after the group signed with Relapse Records; it was co-produced by Billy Anderson, known for his work with Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, and Eyehategod, among many others. Devastatingly heavy and unapologetically dark, this is the perfect soundtrack for a session of Genghis Khan–style pillaging and/or marathon first-person-shooter videogame sessions. It's a standout in High on Fire's consistently impressive discography. Don't miss "The Yeti," "Hung, Drawn and Quartered," or the Unsane-esque opener "Eyes and Teeth."

Customer Reviews

Like giving CONAN a guitar, and saying "Play."

If Frank Frazetta's art was to have its own soundtrack, High on Fire would be its composer. If his "Death Dealer" had a voice, it would be Matt Pike's. You may as well buy this and 'Blessed Black Wings' at the same time. If you You're going to end up doing it anyway.


Listening to this album is much like standing near a jet engine if full throttle. Its loud and assaults your eardrums without mercy...But with repeated listening you can hear thru the sonic hurricane and catch some finely crafted lyrics and top-notch drumming. Dez shines more on this album than he does on Self-Defense. Case in point: The opening of Hung, Drawn and Quartered. Speedwolf picks up momentum throughout the song and then unleashes it on you towards the end. Surrounded By Thieves is good ol fashioned, kick you in the groin metal...Razor Hoof is a masterpiece of doom-laden heaviness...and its interesting to note that the drum solo at the end of Razor Hoof is also the same solo that opens Devilution... Only HoF could write about Yetis and Aliens together and make it cool...which is just what they did with the Yeti... While this albums overall mixing and engineering couldve been more speaker-friendly, its still a "cant miss" and an absolute must for any High on Fire fan...


High on Fire is one of the Heaviest bands out there. This is one of there best albums. If your a fan of High on Fire then you must have this album. Buy it, but only if your brain can handle it.


Formed: 1998 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, bass player George Rice, and drummer Des Kensel formed High on Fire in 1999, following the collapse of Pike's previous band, doom metal titans Sleep. But while Sleep had built their fame on impossibly slothful tunes and copious weed consumption, High on Fire's first release, The Art of Self Defense, displayed a far more aggressive though still fantasy-themed style of heavy metal. Released to mildly enthusiastic reviews, the album's prospects suffered from label Man's...
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Surrounded By Thieves, High On Fire
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