Review Summary: Possibly their greatest record so far.1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Before I start, I’ll just say that only over the past few months I’ve started listening to a lot of the Sleep related projects. I am a big fan of stoner metal band Sleep and I heard about High on Fire so I decided to check them out. Matt Pike played lead guitar in Sleep and when they split, he decided to start a sludge, doom, stoner, or whatever you want to call it kind of band. He plays lead guitar and vocals in this project. His guitar is still very thick and his vocals are extremely gravelly, very reminiscent of Lemmy from Motorhead. This is their newest album, De Vermis Mysteriis. This is their sixth album, and they couldn’t sound better.
The first thing I noticed after Snakes for the Divine, is how much heavier this album sounds on the low end. Some people were bugged by Snakes’ very clean production. I would probably have to side with them on that being the only minor gripe, but here they sound better. Matt’s vocals are also less clean and extra gravelly this time, even on the clean parts such as the epic Warhorn. On the opening track Serums of Liao, Matt’s vocals are so gravelly, the guitars are heavy, and the drums are super energetic. After the track is over, you really want more.
A very nice thing to note here is the variety of the record. The beginning of the album is very fast-paced sludge metal with lots of elements of crust punk. As the album goes on though, they seem to get slower, even down to Sleep speed at some points. In my opinion, their slow stuff is the best on here because it has the most emotion and really paints a picture in your head. The cover to me really describes the feeling and images you see when the album plays. Matt Pike is one of those few modern riff gods, along with Jus Oborn, Scott Kelly, and Brent Hinds.
The other members are not to be ignored though. Des Kensel, their drummer, is one of the greatest metal drummers I’ve heard in a while. He plays with the most energy of all the members, kind of like Dave Lombardo. Their bassist Jeff Matz, doesn’t do anything truly spectacular or anything like that, but he jells along with the band very well. To me, High on Fire really represents the spirit of metal bands. They go up and just jam out to some heavy and fast songs. They don’t try to seem tough or anything like that, even though I feel like Matt Pike could kick the crap out of somebody.
In conclusion, I believe this is the best High on Fire record so far. It is tied with either Blessed Black Wings or Death is This Communion. It has plenty of variety from slow to fast and doesn’t ever drag on. It doesn’t have anything that feels like filler to me. This review was very fanboy-ish, I know, but it really is an awesome album. A must buy for metalheads. 4.5/5 stars.