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41
Snakes for the Divine
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2010
Another reveiwer likened Snakes for the Divine to HOF's first two albums, which were solid releases that sounded like they were recorded in a unisulated garage. This record is not what I expected to follow Death is this Communion and Blessed Black Wings. Not bad, but more of a throw back to their earlier wotk. Dez Kinsel is supposed to be using a double bass drum for the first time on any HOF album and the stripped, basic sound that I like from him is gone. Jeff Matz's bass sounds excellent but my biggest critisim of the album is not the music itself or song structure. It's that Matt Pike's mic sounds like it was only halfway plugged in while recording. The producer, Greg Fidelman, is really a mediocre soud guy (World Painted Blood, anyone?).
I saw HOF with Dethklok and Mastodon last year and had high hopes for this record. Death is this Communion is better, however.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2010
It's a grower of an album, I'll say that much. I wasn't sure at first, especially with how damn good Death Is This Communion was.

The first bunch of times I listened to Snakes For The Divine, it felt like all the songs were interchangeable - no real pacing or order. It sounded like they wrote a bunch of songs and put them together and called it an album, whereas Death Is... sounded like the whole thing was written as an album, and was meant to be listened to as such - with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Hopefully, with repeat listens, Snakes will deliver and find its identity as an ALBUM. Right now, it holds up as a killer collection of songs though. And the songs do rip. I realized as I was listening today that the song "Snakes For The Divine" reminds me a bit of classic Metallica, in that, when I was a kid, I never realized that the song "Master Of Puppets" was over 8 minutes long, because it never felt like it took that long to listen to. The same goes for "Snakes..."

I read another review that suggested that the last 2 songs on the album should be switched. Thanks to iTunes, you can do that. Upon listening to the album in that order, "How Dark We Pray" would have made a much better album closer.

But, like I said at the beginning there, this album is a grower. Every listen reveals more and the songs only get better with repeat listens.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Matt Pike and Co. have once again created a dark,breathtaking and heavy album. I'm not going to comment or talk about the supposed good or bad production by Greg Fidelman. It's been discussed ad nauseum. I lied, I am going to talk for a little bit about it. First of all I've been listening to HOF since The Art Of Self Defense and Sleep prior to that. I feel each album has good and bad points in the production aspect. The first two albums have a hazy almost murky quality to them that I personally never cared to much for. The drums and vocals were to low in the mix and the drums has a slight distortion to them that prevent them from being truly powerful. Just listen to the drum solo at the end of Razor Hoof from Surrounded By Thieves to understand. With the next album Blessed Black Wings I was really happy with the heavy distinct sound of guitar, drums and vocals. Listening back to it the sound is a little dry and brittle but at the same time an improvement from prior albums. It's hard to find a fault with Death Is This Communion production in my mind. Snakes For The Divine sounds almost the same. The bass is throbbing and audible, the vocals clear and powerful and Matt's guitar , I don't think has ever sounded better, especially the harmony on the solos. Now to the actual album. The title track is truly epic and heavy and might be my favorite song they've ever written. This song is over 8 minutes long but never feels it. I love the Maidenesque solos and Matt's voice throughout. Next is Frost Hammer which kicks butt and has a cool trippy middle where bassist Jeff Matz actually helps sing until Matt starts screaming Frost Hammer 4 times that always makes me smile. Bastard Samurai is slow and heavy with Matt actually singing in the beginning and slowly getting crushingly heavy. Ghost Neck is a fast thrasher that's about drummer Des' veterbrae neck surgery. This is followed by a 1:20 instrumental called The Path, nice interlude before the last 3 songs. Fire, Flood and Plague is a killer song that reminds me of Fury Whip from Death... How Dark We Pray at 8 minutes has some damn expressive guitar work that I've never heard Matt try before which is great. This song is slow, heavy and mesmerizing with the lyrics partly dealing with Matt's Mother's death and also of the subject of the reptoid theory of Eve and biblical things I won't try to understand fully. Lastly, Holy Flames Of The Fire Spitter is a great song with all members sounding great. This song closes the album in a way that almost feels like it's a loosely based concept record. Once again HOF's artwork by Arik Roper is awesome and everything from the playing, artwork and song titles and lyrics are thought provoking and artistic. I already can't wait for the next chapter in this awesome journey of Matt Pike, Des Kensel and Jeff Matz' mind. If you like things with artistic depth, substance and even good old fashioned head banging fun, pick this up, and bow to the divine genius of HOF.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2010
With heavy metal back in the spotlight and doing big business in the past half decade or so, it seems an immensely talented and hard-working band like High on Fire would have broken out to reach the ranks of Mastodon or Lamb of God by now. While their previous albums worked hard to show the band was more than worth their salt, it wasn't until record label E1 sat up and took notice and signed the band that they were truly offered the shot they needed -- no, scratch that -- deserved.

With producer Greg Fidelman (Slayer, Life of Agony) in tow, the three men of High on Fire seem more than up to the challenge of hanging with the big shots. Showing a workhorse-like effort, "Snakes for the Divine" is a record that builds on the band's strengths while producing a sound that will without a doubt blow away the unsuspecting and uninitiated first-time listener, which is what the album (and the label) seems to be aiming for. Merely eight tracks deep, the record packs a punch by pummeling the listener with song after song of metal that is often thrashy, sometimes sludgy and never flashy. The fact that the album never takes a moment to merely show off the band's prowess and instead puts all its efforts into creating tracks that are memorable and have a groove is a testament to the raw talent at hand here.

Simply put, High on Fire are a metalhead's metal band. Matt Pike's gravelly vocals are forceful and intense without sounding cookie-cutter or ridiculous, recalling a time when singers in metal bands stood out from one another, which is refreshing in and of itself. Pulling double-duty on guitar, Pike's riffing often serves as throwback to the likes of Slayer ("Frost Hammer") and Black Sabbath ("B...... Samurai") with a modern twist, while the rhythm section of Jeff Matz and Des Kensel creates a groove and a wall of sound for it all to bounce off of. If there's any flaw to be found, it's that album is rather short, leaving you wanting more, and doesn't quite end with the same intensity with which it opens. Yet, "Snakes for the Divine" is still a solid and simply hard-working and hard-hitting album that is likely to slap a smile on the face of listeners craving a good ol' classic no-frills slice of heavy metal. Hopefully the quality of the album and a push from the record label will help push High on Fire to the foreground where they belong. Lord knows, they've earned it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2010
Matt Pike, Des Kensel, and Jeff Matz have fulfilled some lofty expectations with another skull-banger of an album. These guys stay true to their aesthetic blueprint, but if it ain't broke, there ain't a point in fixin' it. Rest assured, HoF is rampaging as hard as ever.
Contrary to the opinion of some, I have to say that the second half of the album flows well and crushes at least as mightily as the first half - which features the rather contemplative (but no less awesome) "Bastard Samurai." Snakes is riff-tastic from start to finish, and just like all previous HoF albums seems to get better and more better-flowing with each listen.
The very minor knocks I would note are the quantity of tracks (seven without the 1:20 "The Path) and production, but these points come with qualifications: the songs are enjoyably extensive and I could not have criticized the production without analysis from minds more knowledgeable than mine. Suffice to say that I (like most) thought the sound of DITC to be perfect, and Snakes would have benefited from the same treatment.
Still, Pike and Co. are going as strong as ever, and the material here is tops. Snakes is one of the most necessary record purchases of 2010, no doubt.
Bonus points for the sick and truly metal artwork!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2010
I kind of agree with the reviewer that said it wasn't what they were expecting after Death is This Communion, because that album just felt like such a huge record with tons of sonic texture and all of these crazy soundscapes, and I thought it was cool. This record feels like they scaled it back and just went balls out to do what a power trio should do, bring the maximum thunder with what you got and I feel that's what this band is all about and what makes them so badass... it's High On Fire man, and it's a good feeling to know that they are making records that are, for the most part, unwavering in that they're formula for heaviness remains intact, so that one day, like 20 or 30 years from now I can pull out my old HOF records and go "Dude, hell yeah!" (horns!). This record was a little over-hyped in the magazines as far as making it seem like they're putting out they're "Black Album" or something, but I guess that's what magazines and press are for... This review is somewhat unnecessary though, as HOF are one of those love em'/hate em' bands imo... and if you're a fan, you will buy this and Rock the F out!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2010
I've followed High on Fire closely since the Billy Anderson-produced first two records and have eagerly looked forward to each of the three ensuing albums. This is a band that takes it mission seriously--a no-nonsense, relentless dedication to the craft of metal-forging while refusing to fall into the trap of self-parody that has been the inevitable path of countless pretenders. Their last release, Death is This Communion, merely satisfied, offering alot in the way of artistic experimentation but seeming to meander at times. Snakes For the Divine, however, is a metal Tour de Force, from the Angus Young-ish opening guitar sequence on the title track through Des Kensel's double-bass drum laydown on the final track, Holy Flames of the Fire Spitter. On Snakes, the group seems more tightly focused on keeping up the pummeling throb of pounding, sludgy controlled chaos of earlier, classic tracks like Blood From Zion and Hung, Drawn and Quartered. The evolution of Matt Pike's vocal style into a Lemmy Kilmister howl on the previous two releases distracted us from the music, so the altered vocals we get on the new record keep the listener's focus in the right places. Having seen High on Fire live on each album tour, I sense that the band's essence--the sweaty, brawny riff-ridden hypnotic experience they deliver onstage--is better replicated in Snakes For the Divine. In fact, the altered production on Snakes--popping bass notes from Jeff Matz and Kensel's steady bass thump (on Fire, Flood and Plague the beat resembles the precision of an old-fashioned typewriter)--might be the chief element that brings the overall sound closer to HOF's earlier releases. And for their longtime fans, that's what we've been waiting for...again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I had high expectations for Snakes For The Divine. The first three songs did not dissapoint. Each of them offering something a little different or a step above what High On Fire has done on previous releases. The Maiden-esque intro and heavy breakdown of the title track. The psyche-doom interlude of Frost Hammer. The eerie sludge of Bastard Samurai. All great tracks. The remainder of the record not including How Dark We Pray was as one reviewer pointed out completely interchangeable. Nearly identical tempos. Nearly identical, stock sounding Pike riffs. Try singing or screaming the lyrics for any one of the remaining tracks over the music for any other of the tracks and you will see what I mean. Filler material the lot of them. Ghost Neck and Fire, Flood, & Plague could easily have been chopped up and recombined into one really good song versus two mediocre songs. The remaining tracks (The Path and Fire Spitter) could easily have been left off the record and the result could have been one really great EP versus one okay album. In short, Snakes For The Divine is good, not great.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Hailing from Oakland,CA. Weighing in at A dumpster full of dropkicks HEAVY! is High On Fire! This album is great. If you like "The art of self defense" & "Surrounded by thieves" you're going love this. Of course it doesnt sound exactly the same, the production and vocal progression being the most obvious, but this album is F***ing heavy/fast and has the Sabbath grooves back! I cant get enough:) Very likely this will be on many 2010 Best Of lists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It happens every single year.
As soon as I feel ready to finally give up on my favorite music genre, along comes an album that manages to sound fresh and transcends the overhyped trendy bands that crowd a long creatively dry scene, singlehandedly restoring my faith on heavy metal, humanity and all that's good with the world.
In 2010, High on Fire's Snakes for the Divine was such album.
Folks, this is 100% pure, skull-crushing metal that transcends useless subgenre labels and gives all those insipid, trendy post whatevercore bands a much needed knee deep kick in the rear.
Longtime fans of the band feared that choosing Greg Fidelman as the producer of this album would result in a disaster, because of his previous work on Slayer's World Painted Blood and Metallica's Death Magnetic. Considering that this band had such luminaries as Steve Albini and Jack Endino sitting on the producer chair on previous offerings, he had some gigantic shoes to fill, and thankfully, did a much better job than anyone could expect.
Even if this is the cleanest sounding album by High on Fire, it's still massive and powerful, with all the instruments expertly placed in the mix. Des Kensel's powerhouse performance deserves a special mention: a multitude of so called metal drummers could learn a thing or two about technique, groove, dynamics, and finally, how to hit the skins like the hammer of the gods instead of sounding like a pathetic click track just from listening to this record.
The album's opening eponymous track starts with a surprisingly out of character unaccompanied tapping intro, similar to the beginning of AC/DC's Thunderstruck. After forty five seconds, the rhythm guitar drops in, and the band punishes the listener for eight and a half glorious minutes. The aptly titled second track, Frost Hammer, crushes the listener to submission and even if the brooding third track, Bastard Samurai, has a longer fuse, when it finally catches fire turns into a slab of pure, unadulterated headbanging nirvana.
After frontloading an album with an unforgiving trio of metal anthems like these, a slight quality drop is understandable in the songs that follow. Luckily, when it comes to a band like this, this just means going from supernaturally godlike to merely superhumanly mythical heaviness. Other notable standouts from the album are Ghost Neck, which twists and turns like a tornado and How Dark We Pray, which features some of Matt Pike's best and most melodic lead work to date.
This is heavy metal at its finest, and my favorite release for the year 2010. Buy it, High on Fire needs and deserves the unconditional support of headbangers worldwide.
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