High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

By Gruesome Greg

Though I’m not nearly as devoted to them as I am to Matt Pike’s previous outfit, the recent output from High on Fire has been solid enough that a new record from them still lands on my “must-buy” list. (‘Specially when it comes out on my birthday, heh heh.)

HOF’s mid-paced blackened thrash attack is still intact on tunes like lead off single “Serums of Liao” and the pummeling “Fertile Green” while “Madness of an Architect” and its Sleepy sludge meets death-doom shows they can still play slow when it suits them. Instrumental “Samsara” even has some sorta desert rock vibe.

“King of Days” is the longest cut on here, at a shade over seven minutes, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound like trad doom—Pike even tries his hand at clean(er) singing, albeit with a deep baritone. Actually, I suppose there are more gothic/death-doom flourishes than Sabbathian stomp here, but it’s still a pretty cool tune, a welcome change of pace from the balls-out thrashbusters that make up the bulk of this disc. In fact, things slow down considerably past this point with the sludgy “Romulus and Remus” and the stripped-down, rhythmic “Warhorn” closing out the album.

Not that there’s anything wrong with balls-out thrashbusters, mind you.

(E1 Metal)

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.