If you’re at all familiar with the last 20+ years of metal—especially that which falls under the “doom” sub-category—you will know that Matt Pike is one of the few guys who has seriously clawed his way towards the seventh circle of heavy metal hell that is reserved for deities like Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.), pre-reality show Ozzy, and, of course, Lemmy. It might sound tacky to call Pike’s work with the band Sleep as “game-changing,” but that’s really the best term to use since, aside from maybe Melvins and Kyuss, no band was able to make burnt out (crispy, even) and heavy tunes sound glorious. But what’s most remarkable is that after Pike was done being the Tony Iommi of his generation, he decided he wanted to shred like Kirk Hammett, Kerry King, and, of course, Lemmy; thus, out of the demon’s belly, High On Fire was born unto the earth—or something incredibly evil sounding like that.
Though Matt Pike/High On Fire hasn’t necessarily gotten to “Big Four” status (the term “Big Four” being totally null and void for not including, of course, Lemmy), he isn’t too far off. And with the first single from the forthcoming High On Fire album recently being unleashed on the public at Pitchfork, we get a sense that Mr. Pike is dangerously close to attaining true Metal God status, which is somewhat like the Baseball Hall of Fame, except with corpse paint, devil dogs, guitars made of axes, and fire—lots of and lots of fire. Not only that, but De Vermis Mysteriis hits up the ever important H.P. Lovecraft (who died on this day 75 years ago) demographic of metal fans.
From the album’s press release:
“De Vermis Mysteriis (or “Mysteries of the Worm”) takes its title from a fictional grimoire created by Psycho author Robert Bloch and incorporated by H. P. Lovecraft into the lore of the Cthulhu Mythos (Lovecraft mentioned De Vermis Mysteriis as one of the books that “repeat the most hellish secrets learnt by early man”). The album carries a deeply mystical undercurrent, incorporating fantastical themes and lyrics detailing, among other things, time travel, a serum called liao that is made out of a black lotus and “a Jesus twin who can see the past through his ancestors’ eyes.” And that’s just scratching the surface!”
Know that Lovecraft is the quintessential heavy metal writer. As you will see below, his books have inspired more than a couple of epic metal moments.
1. Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu”
2. Morbid Angel’s “The Ancient Ones”
3. Black Dahlia Murder’s “Thy Horror Cosmic”
Basically, you can’t get the keys to the metal kingdom if you don’t do something Lovecraftian. Pike may have slipped a little Lovecraft reference in there (along with naming a Sleep album after an Alejandro Jodorowsky film), but either it wasn’t enough to appease Beelzebub, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time. But that isn’t saying High On Fire hasn’t done everything in their power to get there. For this upcoming album they even went out and recruited Kurt Ballou from Converge to handle the production. The artwork is sweet, the words “Green,” “Bloody,” “Samsara,” and “Warhorn” all appear in the track listing, but what truly matters is that they brought a little bit of Lovecraft.