The Mark of Excellence

High On Fire

De Vermis Mysteriis

> > Apr 05 2012

High On Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
By Natalie Zina WalschotsThe sixth full-length released by Oakland, CA-based metal band High On Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis comes from a fictional book, a grimoire containing spells for summoning monsters that first appeared in the short story "The Shambler From The Stars," written by then-teenager Robert Bloch (who would go on to write Psycho). Bloch was the youngest member of H.P. Lovecraft's circle. Lovecraft served as a mentor for Bloch and so loved the idea behind the text (which translates to "Mysteries of the Worm") that he incorporated the book into the Cthulhu mythos. Taking the full context of the album's title into account is important, as there's no doubt that High on Fire are engaged in an act of summoning. The monster they are rousing is themselves, a distilled and pure version of the sound they have been painstakingly constructing and working towards their entire career. Upon hearing De Vermis Mysteriis, the listener cannot help but feel that releases like 2010's Snakes of the Divine represented a pupal stage, whereas with this record they have emerged as some awful, wonderful horror, whole and in the fullness of their power. The production is masterful, having been mixed and engineered by Kurt Ballou (who also contributes guitar to "Samsara" and "Warhorn"), bringing out a bloody, ferocious tone. The sheer power is astounding; High On Fire call down thunder and lightning on their listeners' heads. It's rare to encounter an album that combines this much brute force with such intelligence and expertly orchestrated and well-constructed songs displaying brilliant musicianship (Matt Pike handles the guitar like a ninja wields a sai), delivered with the curdled, churning intensity of lava. De Vermis Mysteriis is a bloody, hard-fought triumph.
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