High On Fire

De Vermis Mysteriis


01. Serums Of Liao
02. Bloody Knuckle
03. Fertile Green
04. Madness Of An Architect
05. Samsara
06. Spiritual Rites
07. King Of Days
08. De Vermis Mysteriis
09. Romulus And Remus
10. Warhorn

[eOne Music]

I swear, by Matt Pike’s sweaty shirtless body, that High On Fire get better with every album. Whilst there’s nothing that glaringly new about their sound, you’d be hard pushed to argue that it wasn’t at least distinct and over the course of six studio albums the band has refined their mix of high octane riffs, pummeling percussion and Motorhead sensibilities to a sharpened point. De Vermis Mysteriis sees the band attempting to top their incredibly well received Snakes For The Divine with a concept album about Jesus’ time travelling twin brother Liao who goes on to to learn about the destructive influence his brother had on mankind before jumping off the deep end and getting involved in witch burning and baby sacrifice. Yeah.

The first thing to notice about De Vermis Mysteriis is the brand new production provided by none other than the legendary Kurt Ballou of Converge fame. His distinctly earthy and full tone is a match made in heaven for the raw and unhinged racket that High On Fire make and it’s definitely a pairing that I would be happy to see repeated in the future, especially when coming together on tracks such as ‘Spiritual Rites‘ and ‘King Of Days‘ that see the band marrying colossal Sabbath-ian riffs with the filth encrusted punk of Converge and the like.

However, production alone does not make an album, so it’s only natural that the band upped the ante on the songwriting front. De Vermis Mysteriis harks back more towards the bands work on Death Is This Communion where the band were far more focused on making relatively compact songs, with a ruthless disregard for anything that could be even consider superfluous compared with the more drawn out but still as potent work on Snakes For The Divine. ‘Serums Of Liao‘, for instance, whilst stretching to the six minute mark, leaves you wanting more and manages to create a bridge between Pike’s work in both High On Fire and some of the more up-tempo Sleep material by turning his trademarked husky rasp into a slightly melodic bellow, most reminiscent of Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders. On a similar note, album closer ‘Warhorn‘ finds the band forgoing the guitar driven sound for some section and sees a slow, militaristic dirge of drums and bass shine through – for lack of a better term, it’s catchy as fuck.

But I’m just picking favourites — the entirety of De Vermis is bursting at the seams with tracks that would make Black Tusk green with envy and Sleep fans put down the bong for 10 seconds so they could awe at how colossal it sounds. This truly is an accomplished piece of work; one full of primitive, gargantuan riffs, a rhythm section that embodies the term ‘battery’ and one that lodges itself further and further into my head with each subsequent listen. Pike & Co. have created yet another record that I can see myself listening to this time next year, with a charm that’s hard to describe but easy to enjoy.




High On Fire’s De Vermis Mysteriis gets…

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