If this planet we inhabit was a just one than Matt Pike would be a superstar, a god and he wouldn’t have to work part time in a bar in hometown of Oakland, California along with writing and touring in High On Fire, his current lifeblood. But alas, the world isn’t so.
Regardless, Pike can safely lay claim to being a veteran and a well respected man in metal, all thanks to a little ol’ band called Sleep, and namely the now revered records Sleep’s Holy Mountain and Dopesmoker. But after pioneering stoner metal, Sleep would disband with their members going in search of joints new, they would eventually return though. Bassist Al Cisneros went on to form the mind numbingly incredible Om, as well as (only last year) forming the doom super group Shrinebuilder.
But Pike formed High On Fire, now currently joined by, Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass), in a concoction that yielded jaw shattering heaviness and worship of the fucking riff from their debut The Art Of Self Defense through to 2007’s Death Is This Communion. But all those strengths have culminated here for their finest hour. High On Fire are straight to the point metal, and Snakes For The Divine is exemplary of that. But it’s still with some beard stroking elements.
Tracks like ‘Frost Hammer’ are just bone crushing metal with that unforgiving track in particular reminiscent of a hurtling steam train. Meanwhile, ‘How Dark We Pray’ raises its horns to Sabbath until Pike enters with his throat shredding vocals. In fact throughout Snakes… Pike displays a riveting voice in all its grimy, growling brilliance. To be frank, if you listen to this record and don’t bang your god damn head, than there is most definitely something wrong with you.
But on the flip side, ‘Bastard Samurai’ is slow and moody, and somewhat brooding, tugging on those stoner rock elements typified by Sleep.
Snakes For The Divine alternates between slow, trampling cataclysmic riffs to ruthless, stampeding extremity – all to wondrous, never contrived effect. It’s chock full of grubby, but catchy riffs all attesting to Pike’s fret skills, heard intensely on the title track. Meanwhile, Kensel and Matz hold a solid, tight rhythm, like through ‘Holy Flames Of The Fire Spitter’’s tribal chants and metallic fury.
Right here you have Snakes For The Divine, by far one of the best, heaviest and zero bullshit records of the year.