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I loved this album a good deal when I first heard it, and the whole "falling out of love" process took a very long time. The production's utterly massive, Matt Pike is a genuine bro who's massive presence is felt throughout the album, the whole thing bends you over and whispers sweet, manly nothings into your ears as it enters you.
Yeah, the album almost, almost covers up it's shortcomings, but it doesn't bear up to repeated listenings. There's a few million vikings on massive woolly mammoths screaming in your ear as HoF make a hell of a racket, but it's that little whisper inside your head that eventually kills the album; peel away the bombast, strip away the many loud crashing instruments and the truth's revealed- this is a rather boring album.
The songwriting doesn't help but it's the lack of good riffs that are mostly what drags this album down. It's all very loud and all but how many of these riffs do you remember when you're done with the album? The lack of anything exceptional, or even "kinda good" is pretty remarkable, considering how long the whole album is. That lead/riff early on in Snakes of the Divine, Bastard Samurai's main riff, yeah it's pretty cool, perhaps the chorus bit in Firespitter? When things do click well here shit does get pretty good, but man is there a lot of awful filler in between- Fire Blood and Plague doesn't do anything but sit around and be angry, Frost Hammer similarly so, Ghost Neck as well. We could go on an on, but you get the point. All up it's a pretty deadly combination, the bad long thrash/stoner riffs, the fairly lame solos (not sure why Pike's trying to shred so hard, considering most of his best moments in the past have been when he's keeping his soloing loose and groovy), and yeah, the long, meandering songwriting.
Shit just hangs around, continues when it shouldn't, changes gear when it shouldn't, and likewise hangs around meandering when what's really needed is a faster section, or a build in tension. From what I can tell, this is mostly due to the fact- and this is probably the main problem of the album, really- that Snakes of the Divine doesn't really know what it's trying to be. It lacks the hazy vibe, huge blown out tones and long, slowburning tension of a quality stoner metal release, but the songwriting's too repetitive and lazy for a long thrash album. You get the feeling that Pike was attempting to make a real grand statement with this- some giant monolith of metal, something that everyone would dig- but he just bit off way more than he could chew, and the result is a fairly unfocused mess.
In general this isn't a very good album; not horrible but definitely somewhere below mediocre. I'd definitely recommend skipping this and just keeping to the earlier HoF releases.