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Why can't all albums sound this good!!?,
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This review is from: Snakes For The Divine [Digipack] (Audio CD)
This album is truly a masterpiece. Snakes for the Devine is the only High on Fire album I own, but prior to this I bought 'Dopesmoker' by Sleep, also featuring Matt Pike - what a guitarist!
Where to start? The title track is the best song on the album, but that's not to say the rest of the album is weak in any way. Far from it! So how does it all begin? With a solo of sorts, (not a twiddly solo, but a solo in the same way as Sweet Child o'Mine starts - clean, soloish, but really it's just a killer riff!) and then the drums and the distortion both kick in. The drums! This guys pounds the skins. All furious double bass and crashing symbols. Safe to say the drumming is very good; as is the bass. Nothing fancy; no slapping or bass solos - it mostly follows the sound of the guitars, but ties it all down and rumbles with a nice thick sludgy sound.
Speaking of sludgy, it's a pretty good way to describe Pikes vocals, but sludgy in a good way. It genuinely sounds like he's constantly gargling whisky. The voice sounds a bit Lemmyish, but a lot courser, (if possible). The vocals certainly have a deathy edge, but don't be mistaken, they're not death metal vocals. Think more 'Machine Head' Rob Flynn, but with more of a bar-room-brawl sound. Needless to say the vocals fit the music perfectly.
And so the music - it's dominated by the guitar of Matt Pike. Riff after riff; speed riffs, groove riffs, (just listen to the title track at about the six-minute mark after the solo ends - one of the best head-nodding grooves you'll ever hear with Matt Pike screaming over the top!) solo-like riffs; this guy can play. Most of it's at breakneck speed - but it's not just noise. It's not speed metal, it's just relentless muscular metal. Lamb of God use the tagline 'pure american metal' - well this is the real deal. the guitars aren't sharp; they churn. They grab hold of your gut and pull down on your throat forcing your head to nod in agreement. There are actual solos tossed around, but they never out-stay their welcome. The solos are technically excellent for sure, but this band are all about the riffs. This is muscular metal through and through. It's not really stoner rock, (but there are elements) it only really gets really thrashy on `Ghost Neck' which is a bit Slayer-like, (only heavier - maybe not as nasty) and it only really slows down on `B*stard Samurai' (with an uber heavy chorus) and `How dark we Pray' (which has a heavy as hell almost tribal mid section). On the whole it's just punishing, (somehow melodic) dirty metal. The whole album is a visceral assault. It never lets up from start from finish.
The production? Top drawer as well - it's hard to describe though. Every instrument is trying to be louder than the other, but at the same time everything can be clearly heard. It's got a dirty production, but it's not badly produced by any means. It's loud, but not shrill. The guitars are thick, the drums, (as mentioned) pound, and the bass curls around. It's about the most air-tight record I've heard; very addictive, every track makes you want to head bang.
This album is definitely one of the best metal releases of recent years. It's right up there with Machine Head's 'The Blackening,' Mastodon's 'Blood Mountain' and 'Crack the Skye' and Lamb of God's 'Ashes of the Wake'....it's not as creative as those albums, but that's no bad thing! It's dirtier than all of them combined and all the better for it.
A true thunderous rollicking metal album, buy Snakes for the Divine for the title track alone, and then marvel at how the rest of the album pretty much keeps the pace throughout. Exceptional.