Saturday, October 6, 2012

High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis

High on Fire are a California-based stoner doom band. In April they released their 6th full-length studio album. I'm a casual fan of the band, but I'm not intimately familiar with their back catalog by any means.

With De Vermis Mysteriis, the group have presented us with a strong slab of husky, sludgey, doom with an often surprisingly aggressive tempo. The real core of the sound is in the churning guitar riffs, played with a meaty tone that really gives them a lot of weight as they crash forward through each successive track. The drumming is sharp and aggressive, often pounding along faster than usual for this type of music, and in the process they give a strong backbone to the assault. The angry, shouted vocals sound hateful and belligerent, and they suit the music perfectly. From the production to the writing to the performances, there's really nothing wrong with this album.

In spite of all that, the record isn't great. Or to be more precise, it didn't feel great to me. It's strange, because I can't honestly put my finger on a single real problem with the music, but for some reason it just didn't really have that big impact on me that a great record should have. Certain tracks really got my blood pumping, but the effect was not sustained throughout. I think it comes down to the fact that there's a difference between a strength and a lack-of-weakness. This album had no discernible weaknesses, but it didn't have any truly outstanding strengths that made it stand out as something special either.

Still, it really is a good record. It lacked that "it factor" that really captures the imagination, but it is a very solid release by a strong band. If you're a fan of High on Fire, there's no reason to believe you wouldn't like this.

Grade: B+
Good stoner doom that should please fans of the band and the sub-genre.

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