High on Fire - Snakes For The Divine
E1 Music
Stoner Metal
8 songs (45:56)
Release year: 2010
High on Fire, E1 Music
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

It's hard to believe that Matt Pike's band of reprobates have been stomping away for over ten years now, but such is the rate that the Metal scene moves - yesterday's new acts are today's cover stars, and this band deserve their success without a doubt, having put the time in with the passion that Doom deserves. To such an extent, actually, that it must have rankled to be relegated to the opening act on the band's recent tour with Converge, Mastodon and Dethklok. Still, there's plenty to make up for it, not least that High On Fire's fifth full-length is a killer slab of bludgeoning stoner metal that tops off an already impressive discography. Some complained when Death Is This Communion toned down the band's Neanderthal stomp a little, and Snakes For The Divine follows in its path - apologies to those looking for the wonderfully murky roar of The Art Of Self Defence, but you won't find it here. The upside is, of course, that the band's songwriting skills are coming through clearer than ever, and Snakes For The Divine is full of expert Stonerisms that fans of their last couple of albums will love without a doubt.

The diversity is, as ever, excellent. Opening with the eight-minute title track, a melodic intro soon turning to tumultuous build-up as the band's usual heavy pound swings into play. First single Frost Hammer is especially anthemic, cymbal crashes and grunting riffage giving way to a mid-track atmospheric swing that proves the band can do Viking as well as anyone before all crashes back to earth in a frenzy of soloing. You barely notice the six minutes dripping away - as ever, one of the hallmarks of a great song is that the length doesn't matter. Bastard Samurai slows the tempo, Ghost Neck speeds it up, and it's hard not to enjoy every second. I've often thought that High On Fire are what people over 60 think Motörhead sounds like, the kind of stereotypical Heavy Metal roar which is most definitely not for polite company - and Lemmy's crew were clearly a big influence on Pike and co. The power trio format works well, despite past calls for a second guitarist (which I personally think would be overkill) and the band are tight and intense throughout, breaking into thrashy sections sure to cause much headbanging amongst the faithful.

High On Fire tend to be lumped in with the bands I mentioned in the first paragraph, that kind of hipster, popular Metal that has come into vogue in recent times as mainstream music journalists wake up and realise that Korn are no longer the last word in Metal. There's no telling who's to blame, but there's not a great deal of difference between High On Fire's current sound and that of Mastodon an album or two ago - are Pike and co in danger of following the same musical route? Well, there's the large and worrying chance that any other Doom-y band breaking into the mainstream will be seen as a copycat act, and to be honest I really can't see High On Fire on David Letterman any time soon - they're just too rough and roll to be treated as anything but a novelty. Predicting the career path of any band is fraught with danger - Pike might choose to drop the snarl and go Prog for the next album, or he might just continue edging along this wonderful boulder-strewn ledge, as full of Conan-esque atmosphere and Heavy Metal thunder as you could wish. Either way, High On Fire will continue to be the solid fire-breathing beast that we know and love, and Snakes For The Divine is yet another argument in their favour, whatever lies around the corner.

Killing Songs :
Snakes For The Divine, Frost Hammer, Ghost Neck, How Dark We Pray
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by High on Fire that we have reviewed:
High on Fire - Electric Messiah reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
High on Fire - Luminiferous reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
High on Fire - The Art Of Self Defence (reissue) reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
High on Fire - Surrounded By Thieves reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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