Best Metal Band
High on Fire
This was a no brainer — not only is Oakland's High on Fire the best metal band in the East Bay, its the best metal band in the country, and arguably one of the best metal bands in existence for this generation. This is owed not only to frontman Matt Pike's mastery of the metal riff, but to the power trio's ability to assault the listener with tuned-down, heavy, repetitious and looping hooks, which deliver nods to past masters of the genre without being derivative, clichéd, or ironic. Each of the band's successive four albums has stepped further away from comparisons to Sleep, Pike's San Jose-based Quaalude-and-doom outfit of the '90s. Harder, faster, and heavier than anything else in the current genre, High on Fire continues to headline metal and thrash festivals throughout the globe. And while it may play large stadiums while on tour, it's nice to know that it still starts and finishes every tour with gigs at the same beer-soaked, hole-in-the-wall clubs in Oakland that the band's been playing at for years. And even if you manage to miss one of those gigs, you can always stop by Bigum's Silver Lion virtually any night of the week (that they're not on tour), buy the band a round of drinks, and thank them for saving metal.