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Pike Vs The Automaton – ‘Pike Vs The Automaton’

MNRK Heavy
Sleep, High on Fire, Monster Magnet, Stoned Jesus
Release Date
MNRK Heavy
Stoner/Sludge Metal

It can sometimes be a more rewarding and thought-provoking process when an established artist takes an existential five and does their own thing outside of the constraints of the “Day Job”. Whilst rightly deserving of universal acclaim and accolades as the guitarist and main vocalist in both Sleep and High on Fire, Matt Pike hasn’t had a place to truly revealed himself. We know what he does, but have we heard him?

“Pike Vs the Automaton” is the first solo release by this Stoner/Doom legend, and even though you will be getting all that you imagine that would entail, there are some very welcome diversions down other paths that show some possibly unexpected and contrasting sides of his musical character. It isn’t without flaws (no genius has never made the occasional mistake), and the 65-minute run-time

is somewhat self-indulgent. But you’re going to buy it, and subsequently enjoy it enormously. Just not necessarily as a full listen-through each time.

Three songs particularly stand out. “Acid Test Zone” with Pike’s wife, Alyssa Maucere-Pike on screamed Death Metal vocals sounds like Zappa’s take on the Death genre if he’d lived long enough to hear and appreciate it. “Latin American Geological Formation” oozes Tom Waits vs Sludge Metal with some deeply cool Kim Thayil sounding tones on the continuo guitar line, and astounding frenetic pounding drums.

Best of all, “Land” sees Matt, and Brett Hinds (of Mastodon, but you knew that) trading bluesy clean guitar licks over a song with conviviality and effortless late-night campfire cool. It is the least “Matt Pike Sound” song on the whole album; but both you and I want a whole album like this; a whole fucking catalogue of albums like this.

"The songs you may have expected are as good as you hoped. The songs you didn’t are exceptional"

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