1. High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine
Typically, my criteria for Album of the Year are simple. The album has to be perfect (or at least, closer to perfect than all other releases I heard that year). The reasons I feel comfortable labeling this album as “perfect” (or close enough), are primarily that all of the tracks are essential (the only “filler” track is “Path”, which is actually an intro for the following track “Fire, Flood and Plague”), the production value of the album is not only very good but well-suited to the music, and that every song on the album makes me want to bang my head fiercely. The fact that the version of the album I own also includes bonus tracks “Mystery of Helm” as well as live versions of perennial favorites “Eyes and Teeth” and “Cometh Down Hessian” are just a bonus.
As I stated above, many other excellent albums finally did emerge as 2010 marched on, but none of them managed to supplant “Snakes for the Divine” in my listening queue for very long. This album was a stalwart companion for me on many a long car ride as well as a personal trainer of sorts for many a workout in the gym. The songs on this album are some of the best – and most experimental as well, in some cases – that High on Fire has ever written, and that’s saying a lot. The title track is a monster, with a killer intro such as High on Fire have never written or performed before, and many tasty riffs / solos galore. “Frost Hammer” is another beast, with some of the best vocals and drumming of Pike’s and Kensel’s careers thus far. The appeal of the experimental (at least by High on Fire standards) track “Bastard Samurai” is only surpassed by its sublime presence when played live. The point is, this album is the total package, and it may ultimately prove to be High on Fire’s finest album to date.
When a band this good releases a collection of songs that are this solid, it’s awfully difficult – and in this case, impossible – to keep from elevating the collection it to sublime status – and so, for the above reasons as well as many others still left unstated, High on Fire’s “Snakes for the Divine” is simply my favorite metal album of 2010.