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Our Music Year No. 91: High on Fire, ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’

By From page A10 | April 01, 2013

Artist: High on Fire
Title: “De Vermis Mysteriis”
Year: 2012
Format: NPR First Listen (Spotify)
Grade: A-

As is the unspoken truth with any worthy concept album, if the music is quality, few care if the artists execute their concept. That’s because it’s the music, not the lyrics, that matter, ultimately.

Oakland metal group High on Fire demonstrates this on “De Vermis Mysteriis.” Conceptually, it is a tangled mess, something about time travel and a twin brother of Jesus.

The unspoken truth – the music – bears out, however. “Fertile Green” chugs with the speedy, repetitious fury of a locomotive, one of many pieces on which Des Kensel beats the drum as though it took his lover from him. It’s the high point of the first 20 minutes, a speedball of prog, thrash and stoner metal that shows off the ominous mood lurking through many HoF offerings.

The sludgier back side includes “King of Days,” which erupts into some of singer Matt Pike’s best guitar work on the record.

Even if the listener doesn’t track the concept of “De Vermis Mysteriis,” which translates as “Mysteries of the Worm,” one has to be impressed by High on Fire’s commitment to sonically assaulting the individual anyway. HoF is heavy, blistering and uncompromising and no one should’ve expected any different.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
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