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High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine (Cover Artwork)

High on Fire

High on Fire: Snakes for the DivineSnakes for the Divine (2010)
E1

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

If some sharks stop moving, they drown. The same could be said of metal bands. As long as they're ripping through electrifying riffs and kicking ass, it's all good. But if the tempo slows, suddenly a band's weaknesses--rambling, nonsensical lyrics, questionable singing--might kill the group. Such is.
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If some sharks stop moving, they drown. The same could be said of metal bands. As long as they're ripping through electrifying riffs and kicking ass, it's all good. But if the tempo slows, suddenly a band's weaknesses--rambling, nonsensical lyrics, questionable singing--might kill the group. Such is the case with High on Fire. The trio's latest album, Snakes for the Divine, is a soaring bit of Motörhead-style thrash, the kind of metal that skate punks can enjoy. The Motörhead comparison sticks throughout--the bass parts are thick, the beats are rapid-fire and vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike recalls the froggy, gravelly voice of one Lemmy Kilmister. As long as the trio sticks to that formula, they rock.

Whenever they deviate, like on the slowed-down number "Bastard Samurai," shit stinks. Without 88.8 gigawatts of rock, the tune comes off as maudlin and goofy. Plus, it's six-and-a-half minutes long, which is a bit of a time commitment for something that isn't very good. The crap-cherry is that the super-aggro-ultra-sweet title is wasted.

Ah, but when the band hits that sweet spot o' rock, everything is beautiful. Take for example track two, "Frost Hammer." The album's lyrics are split between incoherent nonsense and painfully literal fantasy epics. "Frost Hammer" contains the latter. The chorus is "Plateau of Leng / Winter in veins / Hammers arise / To melt through the ice / Frost hammer." That's stupid. But there are so many spastic drum fills and searing guitar solos that it doesn't matter. It's fun, dang it. Intense, intricate musicianship makes the song a winner.

I feel bad being so backhanded about this album, because it's an enjoyable, high-energy trip, even though the critic in me takes issue with several factors. The production is slightly too glossy; it sounds clean but not live. But it's fun. The album turns into a blur after a while. But it's fun. I can't relate to the record on a deeper emotional level. But it's fun.

High on Fire succeeds at pummeling eardrums. That's just what they do. They're not opposed to reaching outside that comfort zone and entering stoner/sludge territory, which is commendable to an extent but unnecessary. Snakes for the Divine continues the band's love of sick riffs and breakneck speeds, emphasizing the "power" in power trio. So while the album doesn't make any Big Artistic Statements?, it doesn't make any claim to do so. Snakes is, simply, a bad-ass metal album.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
thermonuclearwarrior (March 15, 2010)

High on Fire is the soundtrack to war. This album blows the doors off almost anything out there today. Matt Pike is the real deal and "Bastard Samurai" is an interesting, slow-smoking addition to their already impressive catalogue. I can't wait to see these guys in April. Oh yeah, that review sucked. This isn't a Weakerthans record. This shit isn't supposed to be intellectual, it's supposed to kick ass, which it does.

TraumaSponge (March 11, 2010)

Metal lyrics are nearly always stupid, even when they're smart in theory, like when Iron Maiden writes songs about books or epic poems. But the awesome part is that it doesn't matter, because no one is going to metal for social commentary.

KevinJamesSuperFan (March 11, 2010)

They??re not opposed to reaching outside that comfort zone and entering stoner/sludge territory, which is commendable to an extent but unnecessary

You do realize who Mike Pike is? Go listen to Sleep. He basically invented the genre of stoner/sludge metal

brandonsideleau (March 10, 2010)

Dude...you're smoking crack...'Bastard Samurai" is the best track on the album and one of High On Fire's best tracks ever. It brings the sludge back big time.

johngentile (March 9, 2010)

"They may not be reinventing the wheel with this album, but they're totally adding like flames and spikes and other cool shit to it."

Hilarious!!!!

AlmostPunkEnough (March 9, 2010)

i usually really respect your opinions, Jelone, and it must be said that your literary skills are deft at worst. that being said, "If some sharks stop moving, they drown. The same could be said of metal bands." is one of the silliest things i've ever seen writtern around there parts (not counting some of the idiocies i've spewed in my own reviews haha).

other than that, great job, as usual.

RadToTheMax (March 9, 2010)

They may not be reinventing the wheel with this album, but they're totally adding like flames and spikes and other cool shit to it.

Misanthropee (March 9, 2010)

And: "They??re not opposed to reaching outside that comfort zone and entering stoner/sludge territory."

What?? That IS their comfort zone, dude. That plus thrashy NWOBHM is their entire schtick. Ever heard of a little band called Sleep?

Misanthropee (March 9, 2010)

I agree this album is disappointing, but relative to all the other tripe out there, I think it deserves more than a 6.

That said, I'm pretty much over this band; it's been definitively affirmed that they'll never progress.

Michael_Berryman (March 9, 2010)

i fully agree with Rad.

taargus (March 9, 2010)

Weird, a band makes an album that isn't a carbon copy of their previous effort and it gets dissed by some yahoo in a cubicle in between inane twitters and meaningless updates to their facebook profile... i guess i don't know why i read these fuckin reviews on this site. i made up my own mind on this album when it grabbed me by the balls and didn't let go. This shit will fucking slay live, i am certain. i'd recommend it to anyone who is familiar with their sound, but i'm just some other dude with opinions, so don't take it from me. despite some slower material, i don't see them picking up many new fans, i guess i was surprised at them hosting headbangers ball, and their recent appearance on the cover of decibel. but i don't see them as getting more popular because of the exposure. The lyrics are pretty sweet too. If you were familiar at all with David Icke (crazy nutter or not) you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as jibberish.

RadToTheMax (March 9, 2010)

I totally disagree with the comments about Bastard Samurai. That song is so bitchin'! You know you're yelling along when Matt sings "SON OF A BITCH SHOULD BLEED AWHILE!" Also worth mentioning is the part in Frost Hammer where he yells, erm, "FROST HAMMER!" This album is all about head bangin'.

88fingerstonytherevenge (March 9, 2010)

shits epic.

johngentile (March 9, 2010)

I think the reviewer's opinion of this album is a fair one, but I have to disagree with some of it. I think when the band slows down it shows just how heavy they really are... I mean, this band is 1/3 of Sleep, the greatest stoner rock band ever (after Black Sabbath). Also, I don't know if criticism of the lyrics are fair. Were HOF trying to be a punk band with its lyrics, they would be silly. But, I think that the band is trying to be a crushing metal band that references Conan the Barbarian type stuff- along the same lines as Sleep. So, I think for what the band is trying to create, the lyrics are awesome.

Plus the riffs just crush,

thepopeofchili-town (March 9, 2010)

This is a good metal album, but Death Is This Communion was something much, much more. I agree with this score.

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