High On Fire

Album Review: High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

I feel sorry for those who like their rock music handed to them. The mainstream stuff that our genre has to offer lately hasn’t been up to scratch. Hell, mainstream across the board is experiencing a lull right now.

But if you’re like me and enjoy digging deep for your rock, you’ll know that right now is a great time to experience walls of noise thrown at you for about an hour. Meshuggah’s recent release ‘Koloss’ is incredible, and following on from that brutality, High On Fire’s ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ takes on a more simple, yet no less effective approach.

‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ translates, according to frontman Matt Pike, to “The Mysteries of the Worm.” The concept surrounding the album involves Jesus Christ having a twin who died during birth, who then became a time traveller who wakes up in different people’s bodies. There must be something appealing about time travel to sludge-influenced bands, since Mastodon’s ‘Crack The Skye’ followed the same trajectory. Thankfully, like ‘Crack The Skye’, you needn’t understand the concept to appreciate ‘De Vermis Mysteriis.’
High On Fire De Vermis Mysteriis Artwork
What you do need is a neck that can sustain constant headbanging for 50-plus minutes. This is by no means an easy listen – the repetitive nature of the music makes each track feel longer than it actually is. While that does make it a tough album to sit down and casually listen to, the beauty can be found when you purposefully set aside time to go on a journey through the album’s ten tracks (albeit, one that does not involve time travel).

Opener ‘Serums of Liao’ is the closest thing to accessible on here, with an easily identifiable chorus and nothing too outlandish being thrown the listener’s way. The same could be said for the next few tracks. It’s when the dizzying and hypnotic riffs of ‘Samsara’ chime in that the album starts to transcend its southern sludge routes and become somewhat more magical.

While ‘Spiritual Rights’ is anything but beautiful in its all-out assault on the listener and the band’s instruments, the slow-burn of ‘King of Days’ has a majestic quality to it, later fully explored on closer ‘Warhorn.’ It’s during the shoegaze-turned-up-to-eleven moments that ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ becomes really rewarding, setting it apart from other albums within the genre.

It’s fair to say that High On Fire have yet to make a weak album, and this, their sixth full length, continues that upward march. It’ll make you work for it, but dedicate some time to ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ and the rewards are great.

Rating – 8/10

     

About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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