Metal is totally awesome. I am 33 years old and listening to metal makes me feel like I am 14. I want to grab my skateboard and hoodie during these dreary months, put on some headphones and just push all around the ‘hood while blazing guitars and thrashing drums pound and squeal in my ear drums. Metal totally gets me psyched. If I’m working on shit that sucks and I get stressed out but need to power through, I put on a metal album. This year I went to Snakes for the Divine by High on Fire several times and it definitely got me through.
On Halloween, 2009 I was all set to go see Mastodon and Converge open for a Death Metal Cartoon in an arena at my old college. It was gonna be a weird day. I couldn’t get anyone my age to go with me. I don’t think any of my friends like metal any more. Most of them have nice houses or apartments, steady jobs they kind of like or kids they have to look after. Most people my age are fucking boring. So, to get my self stoked for the show I decided to check out the opening band High on Fire and purchased their Death is this Communion album. To be honest, as I drove through the grey drizzle on my way to George Mason University, I wasn’t too psyched. It just felt like rehashed Motorhead, which I guess High on Fire get’s compared to a lot because vocalist Matt Pike sounds like a former throat cancer patient, growling his way through his lyrics. But, when this trip hit stage in that enormous, impersonal rock hall, I was pretty impressed. They sped through about five songs in 35 minutes and definitely got me excited. Upon returning to Death is this Communion I realized the band was playing material not on that album.
So, fast forward a few months and I’m at the record store and I see Snakes of the Divine on the shelf for the nice price of $7.99. Remembering how awesome that band was live I figured, what the hell, and picked it up. Boy am I glad I did. In the three years since Death, High on Fire worked on making a totally awesome metal album. I am sure the dudes feel that way about all those albums, and maybe at the time Death just wasn’t what I needed in my life, but 2010 proved to be a trying year with lots of change and Snakes of the Divine definitely powered me through some of the tough times.
Powering through is actually the phrase I think that best describes High on Fire. They throttle through their songs, never letting up. Just when you think you can catch your breath between songs, they put down the gauntlet and let the shit fly. The songs are fast, bitingly so, and fly at you with precision speed. And it’s heavy as fuck. Every note is drenched in iron, steel and forged in blazing fires. When they lay off on the gas, High on Fire just hits you with gritty, dirty exhaust that just chokes and pummels you like a dirty victim, which you now are.
I truly believe that the best people are the ones that respond to art, music things of that nature. The genre of metal for me, is a part of an ongoing narrative of my life. It’s not just a part of my past and though there have been long stretches of it that metal was absent, such is no longer the case. I think the various forms of Heavy Metal finally caught up to my interests and desires for music. High on Fire are a true beast of a band. The fact that this is three dudes from San Francisco creating this powerful, hard-hitting music that gets me psyched is all the more reason for me to love them. Snakes of the Divine is filled with fast-as-fuck riffage, driving, unapologetic double bass drumming and crushing, evil bass thudding. The vocals are filled with black soot and spit with piss. There is no way I wasn’t going to love this album. Just thinking about how psyched it gets me makes me want to punch something.