Let’s see if we can get the story straight: Jesus’ twin dies at birth, gets reincarnated as a time traveler and has some nightmarishly awesome H.P. Lovecraft-ian adventures along the way. No, this isn’t the latest Christopher Moore novel, but rather the narrative behind De Vermis Mysteriis, the sixth album by the Bay Area hesh-hammers in High on Fire, out April 3. Guitarist and vocalist Matt Pike’s concepts become more abstract with each record, and as a matter of course, the songs keep opening up in ways that once didn’t seem possible.
Songwriting has never been a problem for Pike — the guy knows his way around hooks, sledgehammer riffs and keeping the movement forward. It’s the overly picky metalheads who are particular about producers, almost one for each album: Billy Anderson (God in a metalhead’s eyes), Steve Albini (“I dunno, man, Albini is compression-happy”), Jack Endino (Seattle grunge cred), Greg Fidelman (latter Metallica and, uh, Slipknot) and now Kurt Ballou of Converge.Each one has brought something different to High on Fire’s sound, but the Ballou pairing is inspired. His typically raw and sharp approach can sometimes overwhelm a new band obviously influenced by Converge, but on De Vermis Mysteriis, a simpatico collaboration transpires. And, without dwelling on production too much — too late! — High on Fire sounds rejuvenated, as if it’s conquering the world all over again.
Continue reading and stream the album at NPR