High on Fire Frontman Matt Pike Reveals the Story Behind Their New Album, ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’
Touring with Mastodon and Converge in 2009 might have had more impact on Matt Pike, the frontman for doom metallers High on Fire, than anyone could have thought. Not only did Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou produce High on Fire’s upcoming album De Vermis Mysteriis but the storyline for the record is as wild and surreal as Mastodon’s Crack the Skye.
There’s no question High on Fire frontman Matt Pike is an inquisitive, well-read dude, having written songs in the past based on writings by HP Lovecraft and David Icke, but for De Vermis Mysteriis he outdid himself, crafting full concept about time travel, drugs, war and man’s inhumanity to man influenced by Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and the Bible.
“In the story, Jesus Christ has a twin [named Liao], and his twin died so that Jesus Christ could live,” Pike says. “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.”
Continuing the tale, Pike gets even more esoteric and story gets more bizarre: “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.”
Many psychedelic concept albums enter the realm of spirituality and religion and De Vermis Mysteriis is no exception. Through each song on the album, High on Fire paint a different scenario musically and lyrically, and each tableau illustrates what Liao sees through the eyes of his ancestors.
“Basically, he answers his own question [about why Jesus Christ caused chaos and war] using the serum, but each time he uses it he wakes up in these different fucked up situation. There’s a song about witch burnings called ‘Spiritual Rights.’ And there’s one about a female oracle that makes him sacrifice a male baby. She takes the baby into the weeds with her…”
Does she kill the baby? Of course, but in the world of the Pike all is not as it seems. “She’s actually a pot plant,” he explains. “If you’ve ever lived on a pot farm you’ll know what I’m talking about. The males get burned and taken out because they fuck up all the females, but they have to fertilize them first. That’s the whole ‘Fertile Green’ song. Then ‘Madness of an Architect’ is about the Stygians and the Vanirs killing the Stygians and the scroll being saved.”
A bit confused? All will be revealed when the album comes out on April 3.
Photo by Tom Couture