High on Fire’s Matt Pike Shares Complex Concept of ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’
High on Fire's latest 'De Vermis Mysteriis' is deafening slab of muscular metal, but it's also incredibly brainy and thought provoking, from a lyrical standpoint. Frontman/guitarist Matt Pike constructed a full-on concept album about time travel, drugs, war and man's treatment of fellow humans that was influenced by writers H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, as well as the Bible. Those are disparate pieces of source material, but Pike came up with something wholly unique.
“In the story, Jesus Christ has a twin [named Liao], and his twin died so that Jesus Christ could live,” Pike told Revolver. That's pretty provocative stuff right there and it's also creatively brilliant. But it's much more complex and complicated.
Pike continued, “But his twin instantly becomes a time traveler. Now, you can only go forward through time, but he comes across a scroll that was taken from ancient Stygia—and this is where I go into Robert E. Howard. Stygia was a land of black magic and witchcraft. The Vanirs, a race of warlords, came and killed all the Stygians and burned all the scrolls, but some of the scrolls were smuggled out.”
Still with us? Take notes if you want to follow along.
Pike further elaborated, saying, “In ancient China, Liao found a scroll that’s about how to make black lotus into a serum, which allows you to travel back through time and look at the past through your ancestor’s eyes. Now, Liao puts his name on the serum and he goes on a quest to find why his brother is this religious icon in the future that’s caused all this destruction and massive war.”
You might need to read that once or twice or 10 times to fully grasp and absorb the concept. Yet even if you choose to ignore the deeper meanings in favor of simply indulging in the music these doom haulers make, you will be one satisfied metal fan.
However, if this concept enthralls you, Pike also explained how there is a song about a female oracle who calls for the sacrifice of a male infant and shows herself to actually be a pot plant.
It's certainly bizarre, so you can take it or leave it on a lyrical level.
In the meantime, check out our five-star review of 'Fertile Green' from the album.