Review : High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
PopmattersThe “noughties” (or whatever lame pet name you want to give to the previous decade) saw sludge rise to the top of the bubbling cauldron that is extreme metal. Suddenly this everyman genre comprised of granite-filled Sabbath riffs merged with hardcore/crust punk, was on all the hipsters’ lips. This recognition of sludge metal in areas of the music community beyond the underground was down to a select number of emerging bands with similar musical influences and socioeconomic backgrounds, who were adept at stretching the seemingly limited genre into unexpected territories.
Is it a mere coincidence that the majority of these new pioneers (such as Mastodon, Baroness and Kylesa) were in fact sonically influenced by one band in particular, High on Fire? It would seem unlikely as High on Fire’s tempestuous approach to songwriting, towering riffs, cascading drum fills, knee-buckling, bottom-end and gravel-churned vocals have been repeatedly ransacked of their resources as a means of divine guidance. Talismanic Matt Pike, a journeyman and lifer like no other, who formed High on Fire in 1998 after his previous band—seminal doomsters’ Sleep drowned in a wave of their own bong water—deserves utmost credit as being a catalyst for the evolution of this genre....full text
SputnikmusicFrom the start of its opening drum fill, De Vermis Mysteriis sounds like a High on Fire reborn. Their previous album, Snakes for the Divine was unavoidably tepid, seemingly drained of all energy by the slick fingers of producer Greg Fidelman. There has always been an air about High on Fire that makes one feel as though they're gazing through the haze of a crystal ball filled with weed smoke into whatever strange tales vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike has though up of this time, but Snakes was too clear in its approach, stripping the stoner power-trio of the sludge and mire that is essential to such a hulking approach. In the end it begged the question was it just a misstep or had Pike finally started to lose his edge. Within seconds De Vermis Mysteriis instantly erases any and all questions caused by Snakes of the Divine. This time paired with Converge's Kurt Ballou at the helm, High on Fire have released their most visceral album to date. Building off of the gnarled atmosphere of high octane fuzz and a rush-of-blood-to-the-head intensity not seen since Blessed Black Wings barnstormers like “Commeth Down Hessian”, only now even more immediate, De Vermis Mysteriis is the shining culmination of High on Fire's career to this point. Ballou's thick and gritty production perfectly compliments the crushing slabs of megalithic riffs that Pike builds ever higher and ever heavier throughout the album's 52 minute run time, with tracks like the roaring “Bloody Knuckles” and the inescapable Motorhead gone tribal groove of “Spiritual Rites” proving once and for all that when firing on all cylinders High on Fire are an untouchable force in stoner metal.
Delving deeper into the madness that is De Vermis Mysteriis, “King of Days” sounds as if it was born out of the recent reuniting of Pike's former flame, stoner-sludge titans Sleep. Its methodical drone and lonely lead work is more akin to something found Warning's trad-doom masterpiece Watching From a Distance but this respite is pulled of without a hitch which, along with the Kylesa swamp-prog-esque interlude “Samsara, adds a wonderful sense of flow and balance to the record. The Sleep influenced sound can also be seen heavily in De Vermis Mysteriis' latter cuts, especially in the penultimate title track and the closing “Warhorn”. “Warhorn” is High on Fire at their most down tempo and guttural. Its thundering coalescing of distraught sludgy chords and powerful plodding drums ends the album by taking a trip through quicksand while wearing lead boots. It's disgusting. It's massive. It's fucking incredible....full text
CraveonlineSo High On Fire has a new album out. It’s called De Vermis Mysteriis. Loosely translated it means
"Mysteries Of The Worm". It comes from author Robert Bloch (Psycho) and was incorporated by HP Lovecraft into the lore of Cthulhu.
And none of that matters at all.
What matters, what really matters, what stands atop the mountain and matters like the final days of man as the tidal wave of death slaughters every living thing, is that this album is the game changer. Bands have a life. They only last a certain amount of time before they fade into the horizon unless they have a game changer. Metallica had Master Of Puppets, Black Sabbath had Paranoid, and Slayer had Reign In Blood, just to name a few. These are the albums that changed bands into institutions. Recently Mastodon had their game changer with The Hunter. Now it’s High On Fire’s time to evolve into something else.
What’s happening here is a culmination of everything High On Fire has done previously. De Vermis Mysteriis offers up a really challenging brew of music that enlists the power, the crushing rhythms and huge riffs of High On Fire. Taking that brew the new albums adds a clarity that hasn’t been there before and raises the level of songwriting to new heights. The band has never sounded so sure of themselves or committed to their sound with such fury. This is no longer a band living in the shadow of Sleep, High On Fire have corroded that entire idea away with the opening note of De Vermis Mysteriis.
“Serums Of Liao” cracks the Pandora’s box open with thunderous drums. The opening riff is a pounder, a force that beats your skull without mercy. Structurally, “Serums Of Liao” is intriguing. The drums are the core, but also constantly moving. The center of this tune is a never-ending drum fill that holds down the black vortex of swirling guitar and bass. “Serums Of Laio” comes together like Satan’s bathwater running down the drain of evil. There shouldn’t be a groove here, not with this much going on, but there is. A thick groove created within the subtext of so much chaos is exactly why De Vermis Mysteriis is the game changer....full text
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