High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine

"Snakes For The Divine" is the sound of High On Fire at their most aggressive best and the glossy production actually pushes the sonic envelope even further. The production was done by courtesy of producer Greg Fidelman, the man responsible for the most recent Metallica and Slayer albums and while this was a worry for some people, it has proven to be a wise move. The sound on this disc is a savage barrage of monumental riffing and Matt Pike is at his roaring, bellowing best on vocals.

The album-opening title track is a beast, it kicks off with a riff that sounds like a AC/DC riff on speed before the breakneck thrashy riffing and pummeling drums slammed you up against the wall. Its a relentless approach that never quits throughout the whole song, the vocals are savage and Pike sounds like his axe work has been taking up a level in terms of technical prowess. "Frost Hammer" which has been uploaded on various sites already is a metal pounding, neck snapper. Taking the usual influence from Celtic Frost, a influence the band has always had but High On Fire take it to a new plateau of sonic abrasiveness. "Bastard Samurai" has a un-assuming intro before a almighty sludge / doom riff is unleashed, featuring some dirty low-end sounds coming from the bass, this is some pure heavy. The vocals actually has Matt Pike inserting some raw melody into his guttural bellowing style and there is even some melodic lead breaks blending well with his un-relenting shredding. "Ghost Neck" takes it back to the more typical sludge meets thrash approach which High On Fire are renown for, this is surely the most aggressive album the band has done so far but its not just Pike, the whole band is playing with a energy and passion way beyond anything they have previously recorded. The riffing is also more complex this time around, there is noodling parts blending in perfectly with the pounding riffage and its all super tight. "The Path" is played in pure classic rock style and is short but blends nicely into "Fire, Flood And Plague" which is a mid-tempo bruising track. A stomping drum beat and double kicks keep up the momentum and there is more sizzling Pike guitar solo work but once again, its the riffs and this song has a killer one. "How Dark We Pray" is a 8 minute monolithic track, a slowly building intro section and melodic guitar work takes the listener to a place you don't hear usually on a High On Fire album. There is a certain moodiness to the song and the jaunty harmonics that are spread throughout this song and the entire CD may surprise some people. The track switches gears between wailing melodies and thrashy sections that build up to a epic thrashy crescendo. "Holy Flames Of The Fire Spitter" takes the album back to where it started, no holds barred sludge, thrashy goodness.

The conclusion I reached with this album is this is their most accomplished piece of work thus far, there will be the usual people that will find the production too polished but really that is a kind of a pathetic viewpoint. This is the album that will for good or bad take the band to the next level of acceptance in the metal community which is fickle at the best of times. It is certainly not a sell out in any form, it is the sound of a band stretching themselves and pushing themselves to a new level of musicianship. This album will be huge in a month or two and is sure to be on top of everyone's play-lists. Their most varied release to date, the most well played and produced. The line-up of Matt Pike-guitars, vocals, Des Kensel-drums and Jeff Matz on bass must be happy with this album, it continues to blow me away daily.

1. Snakes For The Divine
2. Frost Hammer
3. Bastard Samurai
4. Ghost Neck
5. Fire, Flood & Plague
6. How Dark We Pray
7. Holy Flames Of The Fire Spitter
8. Mystery Of Helm

E1 Music
Reviewer: Ed
Feb 23, 2010
Next review: Warbringer - Live

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