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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Make Me Go Van Gogh
For the record, this is a biased review. I believe High on Fire best represents the essence of contemporary heavy metal (that is "heavy metal" without need for a prefix).

The best thing about High on Fire is their strict adherence to the metal standard. Call it the Slayer or Motorhead ethic. Their ethic is this; never water it down. Matt Pike delivers the...
Published on April 4, 2012 by Clark B. Schenck III

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Well...
I've liked HoF for years now, I don't think this is a great of a release. I think the music is good, surprisingly so given the problems their front man has been going through for years now (google the rockstar energy drink tour). Nothing wrong with that (no judgement at all) & good for him! I just think this album sounds sloppy like maybe a bad mix or something? Death is...
Published on June 21, 2012 by B-Rock


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Make Me Go Van Gogh, April 4, 2012
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
For the record, this is a biased review. I believe High on Fire best represents the essence of contemporary heavy metal (that is "heavy metal" without need for a prefix).

The best thing about High on Fire is their strict adherence to the metal standard. Call it the Slayer or Motorhead ethic. Their ethic is this; never water it down. Matt Pike delivers the riffs and primordial howls. Des Kensel and Jeff Matz deliver a thunderous and fluid foundation. The subject matter is always arcane and provocative. Their work ethic is hardcore. They deliver the goods and the goods are badass. This is what makes metal, metal. They've maintained the ethic since "The Art of Self Defense" issued in 2000.

De Vermis Mysteriis shows the full breadth of HoF's power and surprisingly strives to expand Matt Pike's vocals. Pike's voice is "interesting" to begin with, but his style of shredded throat/rumbling growl/apocalyptic scream is perfectly matched with the riffage and perfectly suited to the subject matter. He stretches his vocal range on tracks "King of Days" and "Warhorn" more than on any previous effort. Des Kensel is simply a thunderous beast. He has managed to introduce more texture and ripping fills to his already cacophonous tribal beats. Jeff Matz is solidified on bass after his third HoF recording with Pike and Kensel. He alternately provides sweeping plateaus and a driving backbone for Pike's riffs.

Out of the gates, HoF delivers a trio of rippers in the narcotic "Serums of Liao," the pugilist pummeling of "Bloody Knuckles" and the weed-worshipping "Fertile Green." "Madness of the Architect" begins with a Sleep-like swoon which gives way to searing acid vocals and a relentless Stygian groove which spirals into chaos buried in a titanic riff and swirling drums. The push and pull of the track sequence is perfect, with "Samsara" providing a Sabbath-like instrumental interlude and slow burns "King of Days," "Romulus and Remus" and "Warhorn" filling in the cracks. "Spiritual Rites" is vintage "Surrounded By Thieves" and it gels seamlessly into De Vermis as Pike threatens "Deny my power and I'll burn you as the dead is". The title track lives up to billing, as Pike's warbled vocals hint at the unholy secrets enclosed in the cryptic tome, Mysteries of the Worm.

This album is High on Fire's 6th full length album and they show no signs of slowing down. De Vermis Mysteriis reeks of all the best elements of High on Fire and sees the band at its utmost power. Maybe now High on Fire has achieved the Slayer/Motorhead ethic. I hope the steamroller keeps on rolling.

All I know is when High on Fire decides to stop making music, I'll want to cut my ears off.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't play darts in the man cave anymore, November 15, 2012
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
I'm finding it impossible to aim while head banging. This album is every bit as vicious as their previous ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're new to HoF, not a bad album to chew on first, March 30, 2014
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warthog ((peregrine, no location)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
I really though American metal was just gone or sleeping, and had turned to Europe and Asia for heavier fare until a friend slapped me around for being ignorant and led me to HoF. Now I'm hooked and have every album. If you are a fan, you don't need to read my thoughts, you'll already have this. I Wrote this review for non-fans who may want some information in a roundabout and obtuse way.

While something like Snakes for the Divine is better for the gym, and earlier albums are just pure awesome... De Vermis is great all around (working in the shop, working out, drinking, when you're happy, when you're grim, ... it just works all the time). It really holds together as a whole album (not sure if 'concept album' is playing it too high, let alone saying 'rock opera' but it's the kind of album you play the whole damn thing through).

If you are new to HoF, some fans will point you to the older albums to start with. They are right if you are into a more raw feel, but I'd really recommend De Vermis as an entry point too. It has the sludge, the raw power, the wild lyrics weirdly poetic but also somehow catchy (not in the way perhaps that Bastard Samurai gets in your head, but catchy in a deeper sense). The production is really spot on for the content of this album (vs some criticisms of previous albums, check out reviews from smarter folks than me). I do wish they would have some more of the drum-focused sections MEAN a little more, blend in better with the songs, but that's like wishing for just one more beer with your steak and 40oz'er. Sample Madness of an Architect and King of Days, if they catch your ear you'll like the whole album. Other albums you can cherry pick songs you like, I'd recommend getting this whole thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as their past products, February 3, 2013
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (MP3 Music)
High on Fire have amazed me and opened my eyes to a truly awesome genre of metal. I'm typically a Slayer & Cannibal Corpse kind of person (oh yeah, and some Godflesh). When I first heard HoF on Pandora I loved it immediately. The first song I heard was off of Death is this Communion, which is a 5 star album in my book, but then again so is their previous albums.

Just up front, Des Kensel is at his best on this album. His great drums make this album memorable.

This album shows that HoF will not simply stagnate, but that experimentation will occur and new styles to be copied by others will be created by Pike now and in the future, though we haven't seen anything by him since his sobriety has emerged.

I'd give this album 5 stars if it was the only thing they put out, but they've put out better, so I'm stuck with comparing it I guess, which might not be the most objective way to review an album, but screw it.

I love this album for being an epic theme and the awesome story written by Pike, which is fantastic fiction. He should write books or movie scripts as a hobby.

The beginning of the album starts on a feverish path with the first 3 songs Serums, Bloody Knuckles, and Fertile Green (if you're reading this go to the internet and listen to Fertile Green right now, it's really good).

Madness of an Architect has gotten high praise by numerous reviewers who know music better than I so I need say no more, except to reiterate that fans of Sleep will recognize this style.

Spiritual Rights is typical HoF, that is to say better than anything James Hetfield will ever write.

King of Days is another retrieval from the HoF vault of classic stoner.

The rest of the album follows in the same general vein, good HoF material, but not their best.

BTW, if you like HoF but haven't seen them live, do it. They are truly amazing live.

I love that HoF are actual artists, unlike 90% of what's out there.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another master work from Matt Pike, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
I don't think I there is another working metal band putting out records today that I enjoy as much as High on Fire. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of De Vermis. This album seems to have merged the greater elements of Thieves, Death and Snakes into one fiery dose. Des Kenzel's signature pounding reaches a new level, perfectly paired with the Matz's masterful bass, forming the perfect rhythm section to keep pace with the Celtic tuning mastery of Pike. I can't imagine anything knocking this off the mantle of record of the year. Unlock the Mysteriis for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars train keeps a rollin'!, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
Another brilliant slap of Metal from the modern day warriors High On Fire. All the trade mark sounds are there but with some new wrinkles to boot. Listen closely and you'll hear the melvins influence, also they seem to loosen up abit and jam with serious groove. Don't get me wrong they still do their death march stomp most of the time, with Des doing his best tazmanian devil drumming to date. Screw neil peart and his 100 piece drum kit, give me Des and a 5 piece any day. Buy this album, crank it up and enjoy the trip.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic., December 26, 2012
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (MP3 Music)
De Vermis Mysteriis and Death Is This Communion are really great albums, solid all the way through. The production is great and differs from earlier albums.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It just doesn't get more powerful than this, April 24, 2012
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This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
We may have to rename the power metal genre, which is populated by Iron Maiden, Sabaton and other more conventional and musical metal bands. This is all due to one band that redefines the word power and makes said term all its own. High On Fire is beyond just being heavy. This three piece outfit has so much energy and crushing riffs it can cause earthquakes under the homes and vehicles that their CD's are playing over. Start with the heaviest Motorhead ever, around the "Overkill" through "Ace of Spades" era, add Matt Pike's whiskey drenched voice that does resemble Lemmy's gutteral drawl but with much more menace and his astonishing guitar attack and a ferocious rhythm section in bassist Jeff Matz and monster drummer Des Kensel and you get a sound that is so powerful it could level neighborhoods if a large enough system was playing it.
"De Vermis Mysteriis" is a concept album that asks what would happen if Jesus' long lost twin brother were to reincarnate from time to time in different parts of the world at different times, and what he would report to his brother. Conceptual albums are not particularly a strong selling point for me personally, but it is an interesting concept. Matt Pike is nobody's fool and writes intelligent and informed lyrics for those who care about that stuff.
Me, I'm sold on the music. It's just incredible. For HOF long time fans, "De Vermis Mysteriis" is less polished than its predecessor "Snakes For The Divine" and stylistically falls in between "Blessed Black Wings" and "Death Is This Communion", meaning it's smart, brutal and has great playing amidst the barrage. This will be a major contender for metal album of the year. Pity any band that has to share a stage with these guys. If their live sound is anything like their albums, nobody will be able to touch them. It'd be the sonic equivalent of picnicking in a town that was just leveled by a tornado. There just won't be anything left! Get this CD and tie yourself down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a giant, April 19, 2012
This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
of a cd this is boys and girls. high and fire are one of those bands that when i hear a date of release i literally count down the days and get it the day it comes out. then when i saw the album cover i knew this was gonna be one hell of a cd. when i popped it in for the first time i already got the sense it was one of my favorite high on fire cds. after i few more listens it very well may be the top one. the production is top notch here. u can hear everything clearly yet it isnt overly produced which is a good thing.its got that old feel to it. i dig it. the intro to track number 4 reminds be alot of sleep. high on fires frontmans first big band he was in if u didnt know. contender for best album of 2012 along with meshuggah, mars volta, and lamb of god. and again the cover work is absolutly amazing to me. one of my favorite covers of all time. long live real metal
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High On Fire are on fire!, November 21, 2012
This review is from: De Vermis Mysteriis (Audio CD)
Few heavy metal bands can match the same legacy of great albums that High On Fire have. The California-based sludge/doom/stoner metal (by way of speed metal and groove metal) trio, which is fronted by ex-Sleep throat Matt Pike, is, simply put, on fire! They have, over the course of their still relatively young career, repeatedly released album after excellent album. And they continue that tradition on 2012's sixth-full length record, "De Vermis Mysteriis." Killer riffs, excellent solos, thickly distorted bass lines, powerful drumming, and Motorhead-inspired vocals? Yep, this album, like any other H.O.F. album, has it all!

"Serums Of Liao" blasts off with a drum solo, racing guitar and bass riffs, and frontman Matt Pike doing his best Lemmy Kilmeister impression. "Bloody Knuckle" is a brutal piece of straight-up thrash metal backed by big, fat, abrasively churning guitar leads. Track three, "Fertile Green," brings back some of the thrash pacing of the above, and augments it with speed metal picking, a fat, serrated, grumbling bass (including a brief but noteworthy bass solo), and pounding skins. (Oh, and did I mention the fact that "Fertile Green" also boasts an epic, crashing, thirty-second-long introductory drum solo?! Then come the album's two epics: The seven-minute "Madness Of An Architect," which could be an Eyehategod or Sleep b-side, as it is a cut of pure, droning stoner metal with a dirty, distorted, grumbling bass bottom; and "Samsara," an epic instrumental with soaring guitar harmonies and piercing solos.

Immediately following this, though, High On Fire blast back onto the scene with the thrashy and thunderous "Spiritual Rites." (A song that features some fiery, shredding soloing, too.) Moving along, "King Of Days" is a very proggy, droning, and brooding number that finds the guitars and bass locked in a duel, trading-off one blistering and dazzling solo run after another. The song then ends with a martial, Melvins-esque drum fill. And the title track seemingly picks up right where its predecessor left off, with exceptional soloing and Melvins-like drum thudding. "Romulus And Remus" augments its familiarly brutal and mammoth riffs with an epic, extensive, wailing, and positively air-guitar-able soloing section. Finally, "War Horn" is a mid-tempo closing piece of pure doom metal highlighted by Black Sabbath-copped riffage, fat, meaty, driving bass riffs, and unorthodox, strangulated guitar soloing.

While not the earth-shaking, ground-breaking piece of music that previous High On Fire efforts were, "De Vermis Mysteriis" is nonetheless a very strong, solid, and satisfying affair from a band that has been knocking them out of the park for the last twelve-plus years.
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De Vermis Mysteriis
De Vermis Mysteriis by High On Fire (Audio CD - 2012)
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