High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
E1 Music
Stoner Metal
10 songs (52:19)
Release year: 2012
High on Fire, E1 Music
Reviewed by Goat

You wouldn't have expected High On Fire to last six full-lengths on the basis of their neanderthal sound alone, but such are the vagaries of metal that Pike and co have now reached that mini-landmark. And good on them, so intensely heavy and enjoyable is their sound that the band are now a metal institution, filling the void left by Mastodon's departure for mainstream realms. For there's little toning down of their beer-drenched crunch here, no move towards David Letterman-land (as I fearfully predicted in my review of Snakes For The Divine). No, High On Fire are still stomping out those headbanging riffs and De Vermis Mysteriis ('mysteries of the worm') is a triumph, possibly even better than Snakes...

It's certainly heavier, as the epic opening crunch of Serums Of Liao proves, drum rolls followed by harsh bellows and raging guitars. Moving from infectious hooks to doom stomping heaviness, it shows the band's songwriting skills off at their best, and that high bar of quality isn't dropped. The speedy grumpiness of Bloody Knuckles and Fertile Green follows, High On Fire at their bar-brawling best, yet it's the feedback-strewn likes of Madness Of An Architect where the band truly shine, kicking into a hypnotic groove. Yes, wherever you look gleefully, drunkenly chaotic guitar solos abound, backed by fearfully crashing drums (I think a drumkit must have killed Des Kensel's parents) yet Pike and co are capable of locking into a kind of intensity several levels beyond the stoner usual that makes this album so damn special. Samsara continues this feeling despite being an instrumental interlude by acting as a sort of song, a melodic web that brings you back down to earth before Spiritual Rights comes along and knocks you for six again.

Part of what I love about metal is the ways in which violence can be so transcendental, and this is true for a band like High On Fire as well as for more obvious 'extreme metal' candidates. The slow doom of King Of Days is like a sea of molten lava gently lapping at your ears, Pike's gruff crooning reacting wonderfully with the melodic undercurrents to draw you in deep and never let you go. Romulus And Remus follows a similar pattern, if more pumped-up and aggressive, equally epic, and finale Warhorn is just as violent. As a whole, De Vermis Mysteriis is certainly a step forward from Snakes For The Divine, managing to make High On Fire's heavy metal thunder more complex without stopping it being as fun. An excellent outing from an excellent band.

Killing Songs :
Serums Of Liao, Bloody Knuckles, Madness Of An Architect, Spiritual Rights, King Of Days, Romulus And Remus
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by High on Fire that we have reviewed:
High on Fire - Luminiferous reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
High on Fire - The Art Of Self Defence (reissue) reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
High on Fire - Surrounded By Thieves reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
High on Fire - Snakes For The Divine reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
High on Fire - Death is this Communion reviewed by Adam and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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