Pay no attention to the man behind the wheel of the DeLorean.
Always wanted a bong n' Weird Tales sonic treatment of Jesus' stillborn, time-traveling twin, & thanks to the fanatically fervent High on Fire, here it is, quite the Easter egg. On number six, De Vermis Mysteriis, Kurt Ballou's production, following messrs. Albini, Endino, & Fidelman, is still too Valley of the Kings dry -- O how these lucubrations
Chaotic opener Serums of Liao doesn't imprint as ruthlessly as past album introductions -- Baghdad, Devilution, & Fury Whip are red giant imposing -- but 'tis early in its life, & the seasick solo sticks like peanut butter on the brain, & here we go, Bloody Knuckles feeds on Slayer's rich, tasty courage, grit between the teeth. Des Kensel's masterful control of whack-a-tom starts the speed & sleep splatter of Fertile Green -- let me pause for a moment & state that within a just world, any minute now this guy would begin to usurp Lombardo's throne in the hesher consciousness. The dude owns, consistently.
The crawl-birthing-a-stomp of Madness of an Architect drones the ears like a rusty cheese grater, & it's beautiful, the other side of the looking glass to the voiceless melodicism of Samsara that renews the psychedelic side trips of Death is This Communion, & being an understated showpiece for too-underrated bassist Jeff Matz, who quickly flips back the switch, the rest also congregating in Spiritual Rites whose stop-start pacing gleefully recalls Rumors of War, an extra gear thrashed for good measure.
King of Days, O, it proceeds like the Weedian, but sandblasted with unexpected Cosmic Requiem-era hues of Cathedral melancholy. The grinding title track is arguably the weakest piece which is surprising, & speaks to the 18/01 strength of the entire album, such as found in the paired final responsorials, the stoned Motörhead cohort march of Romulus and Remus, & the eerie breathing space 'fore the final charge of Warhorn, expert, expanding gradations within the band's specific palette.
Some bands I dig a smidgen more, some albums punch the emotional gut a bit harder, & this isn't their finest hour (too much speed, too little groaning, fucked-up turbulence), but if a stranger asked hey Randal what is metal? I'd probably pass them a High on Fire record, & this is ain't a bad place to start.