Released: 2012, eOne Music
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
After SNAKES FOR THE DIVINE, I didn’t think it was possible for High on Fire to get any better. Well it appears that the band’s latest, DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS (“Mysteries of the Worm”) is intent on proving me wrong. Imagine if Motorhead had a baby with Crowbar and then popped a fistful of speed, chances are it’d sound a lot like this album right here.
The thing that jumps out at you immediately is that the aggression factor in the tunes has been ratcheted up x 10. Not that you could ever accuse the band of holding back on previous releases, but there’s an unrelenting feeling of power that seethes across DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS. “Serums of Liao” “Spritiual Rights” and the f@$king phenomenal “Fertile Green” are a brick to the face that add insult to injury with some jaw dropping lead guitar shred. Whatever Matt Pike’s rolling in his joints lately, keep that stuff coming because he’s never sounded as proficient than he does on this record. And what tracks like “Madness of an Architect,” “Romulus and Remus,” or “Warhorn” lack in speed, they more than make up for with oppressive sonic density. Like a well placed punch to the gut in a prize fight, the sting from these kinds of crushers tend to linger much longer than the speedier jabs.
Drummer Des Kensel deserves a shout out, as his spectacular work behind the kit propels much of the album. His talents swing flawlessly from locomotive frenzy (“Fertile Green”) to 70’s psychedelic slow jam (“Interlude”) and grooves like a monster with Jeff Matz’s low end rumblings throughout the album's duration. The production job is grittier and grimier than its predecessor, but not so much that it obscures the complex dynamics that this power trio delivers. It complements the ragged guitar tones and gives the album a kind of earthy quality that was missing from SNAKES.
And have you seen the album cover? I have no idea what’s going on there, but I’m loving the tripped out visuals. Listening to an album as volatile as this, it’s hard to believe that Pike is the same guy on all of those Sleep records, but it tells of the diversity that he’s capable of as a songwriter. DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS is High on Fire at their best yet - A massive soundscape of stoner wizardry that’s waiting for you to hear. Check out High on Fire as they destroy audiences this Summer on the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour.