Review Summary: If Sleep’s The Sciences was the unexpected return of a glorious titan, then Electric Messiah is the reliable bellow of a faithful leviathan
People think High on Fire albums are all the same. Granted the trio keeps to a consistent stoner caveman thrash style, but they tend to write two different types of albums. You’ve got fast, straightforward pummelers like Snakes for the Divine and Luminiferous on one hand while Death Is This Communion and De Vermis Mysteriis are decidedly slower, more contemplative affairs. Electric Messiah ultimately leans to the latter category, but a lot of time is spent wrestling between the two templates.
This grander scope is most obviously apparent on the album’s slowest and longest songs, “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil” and “Sanctioned Annihilation.” Des Kensel’s building tribal drumlines keep these crawling tempos from dragging but Matt Pike’s guitar mastery is what helps stand out from one another. It’s especially impressive how he occasionally throws in some fast tremolo runs on “Sanctioned Annihilation” without losing sight of the overall slowness.
Oddly enough, the numerous faster songs may end up being the album’s biggest growers. They’re all unique enough to avoid interchangeability but they aren’t as straightforward or hooky as their charging rhythms would suggest. The triumphant marches of “Drowning Dog” are enough for it to not only be this album’s biggest standout, but also one of High on Fire’s greatest closers to date.
If Sleep’s The Sciences was the unexpected return of a glorious titan, then Electric Messiah is the reliable bellow of a faithful leviathan. It isn’t quite at the mind-blowing level of High on Fire’s greatest efforts, but the well-preserved energy alone will surely make fans happy with the great highlights serving as a nice bonus. Such is the glory of Matt Pike. Now if only we could get a new Om album sometime soon...
“Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil”
“The Witch and the Christ”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com