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De Vermis Mysteriis

April 3, 2012 | Format: MP3

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By Clark B. Schenck III on April 4, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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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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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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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I know albums like thieves, communion and black wings garner a lot of praise, and they are great albums. But for me this is the most well rounded. The songs are more distinct and the rhythms are catchy. This is about as melodic as High On Fire gets.
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High on Fire wield the sonic equivalent of a fully armed and operational death star and they're not afraid to use it. I, admittedly, didn't grok de vermis first listen. I couldn't really differentiate the songs or something.. it's a bit of a pummeling first time through. After a few listens the individuality of the songs starts to shine and you get an appreciation for some of the new directions on this album. Pike, as usual eschews esoteric tales from the fetid cauldron of his mind, animating the music and pulling you into the wretched excess of his malignant imagination. The incipient tumor of HoF's diabolical enterprise has fully metastasized on this album cementing any lingering doubts you may have had about a cure. I get kind of a weird pink floyd vibe from King of Days which kind of surprised me, in a good way of course. Pike seems to be expanding the territory a bit with his singing style and I like it. Madness of an architect is my standout track and a definite motivator for asundry recreational pursuits. Only song I have contention with is Warhorn, as I hate anything civil war themed, I haven't been able to get into it yet but it's at the end of the album so not much of a problem. All in all, HoF keep refining the brutality and arcane sledgehammery of their occult sound making apparatus making de vermis mysteriis a highly consistent cocktail of metal malice, undeniably epic and unlikely to be rivaled for some time.
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