While one would be hard-pressed to characterize any of the album's in High on Fire's devastating oeuvre as particularly "weak," there was certainly a mild sense of creative stasis hovering around the band's final efforts for Relapse; and it took a lengthy break and an unqualified return to form via 2010's Snakes for the Divine (their first release through eOne Entertainment) to really set things to right. Naturally, this achievement only heightened expectations for the San Francisco-based trio to deliver another scorcher with their next album, 2012's De Vermis Mysteriis, and "scorching" certainly appears to be the main directive for vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike, bassist Jeff Matz, and drummer Des Kensel, at first glance here. Simply put, the sonically overwhelming triple threat of "Serums of Liao," "Bloody Knuckles," and "Fertile Green" may just comprise the most violent and intense introduction to any High on Fire LP yet, and that's saying something, but it also might leave some listeners wondering whether this will be a one-dimensional bloodbath, rife with sheer wanton destruction, but not necessarily varied ideas. Luckily, the band quickly puts such worries to rest with an inventive sequence of tracks boasting numerous alternating moods and even a few relative firsts, unique to the HoF canon. Here, betwixt a few more remorselessly brutal headbangers and thrashers (see "Spiritual Rights," "Romulus and Remus," the title track), one encounters an improbably dreamy instrumental reminiscent of Spirit Caravan in "Samsara," heavy metal at its most thunderously melancholy as bass and guitar solos duel to the death in "King of Days," and Temple-leveling doom chords cast from the same granite blocks as Sleep's (Pike's iconic former band) colossal Dopesmoker in "Madness of an Architect." Plus, in closer "Warhorn," High on Fire may well have their filthiest doom shamble ever, thus proving they can not only loosen the strings now and then, but that they are probably big Earthride fans, to boot. And, tying everything together are some of Pike's most deeply mystical and occasionally impenetrable lyrics ever, covering everything from alchemy to time travel to quasi-religious themes, and representative of the album's title ("Mysteries of the Worm," in the Queen's English), which was lifted from the fictional grimoire created by Robert Bloch and later used by H.P. Lovecraft in his Cthulhu Mythos. Such literary horrors are of course suitable bedfellows for High on Fire's evocative brand of modern metal, and while De Vermis Mysteriis is probably not the group's finest hour (2002's Surrounded by Thieves still bears that distinction), it is nonetheless a very fine hour indeed.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia