Allow me to quote the promo blurb that accompanied this album...
"The album's title (translation: 'The Mysteries Of The Worm') is a nod to a fictional grimoire conceived by the late, great Psycho author Robert Bloch in 1935 and later incorporated into horror master HP Lovecraft's renowned Cthulu Mythos. It's a concept record, a little bit," Pike (High On Fire's guitarist and vocalist) offers.
Article continues below...
"I got this idea about Jesus Christ and the Immaculate Conception: What if Jesus had a twin who died at birth to give Jesus his life? And then what if the twin became a time traveller right then? He lives his life only going forward until he finds this scroll from an ancient Chinese alchemist who derived a serum out of the black lotus - which is actually in Robert E Howard's Conan stories — and then he starts travelling back in time.
"He can see the past through his ancestors' eyes, but his enemies can kill him if they kill the ancestor that he's seeing through at the time. Basically, he keeps waking up in other people's bodies at bad times. It's kinda like that old TV show Quantum Leap.
"Kurt actually pointed that out to me after I told him the idea. But whatever — time travel is a killer concept." He continues: "Most people won't even get it, so I'm explaining it now — once," he concludes. "After this, I'm done telling the story to people. So please make sure this gets printed."
Got that? Yes? Good, then now you know.
'De Vermis Mysteriis' sure as hell sounds angry. Think of a Metalcore version of Motorhead dipping in to Sabbath's pond and you would be close to High On Fire's groove. This is the band's sixth album and it pretty much picks up where the last album left off, suggesting the boys in High On Fire have found themselves a nice comfy and lucrative niche in which to cruise.
This is a shame because the lack of a few mood swings renders it all a bit samey with only 'King Of Days' and the instrumental 'Samsara' offering the faintest whisper of light and shade.
So 'De Vermis Mysteriis' rocks like a bastard but therein lays its problem. The band has attempted a concept using the medium of Heavy Metal; a blunt tool at the best of times that in this case renders it almost impossible for the listener to understand what the fuck the band are going on about.
Imagine someone reading Shakespeare to you in the style of a full tilt ranting lunatic. It effectively sets you, the listener, up for failure and ridicule before it gets anywhere near your damn death decks and that is the sort of real shitty trick perpetrated by those who are far too clever for their own shorts.
The album is simply out of its depth, being too two dimensional to get across the multi-layered scope of such a complex concept.
'De Vermis Mysteriis' has everything good Heavy Metal should have; it just lacks that standout killer punch that a little experimentation would have given it.
When it's done you won't remember one damned thing about it and you'll find the world has not changed one bit anyway. Yet while it's on, you'd be best advised to strap yourself in because it is a bit of a hell ride.