The first fourth of Snakes for the Divine is absolutely fantastic. The title track is harrowing from its incredible beginning crescendo to the bass tapping in its chorus. First single and second track, "Frost Hammer", is similarly pummeling, and "Bastard Samurai" proves to be a pretty good holdover. Musically, the band never falters. Drummer Des Kensel's primal thrap is effective with the album's gritty production and Matt Pike's scowl always sounds like Tom Araya after decades of chain smoking. However, as Snakes for the Divine progresses, it goes from an excellent release to a pretty good one, as the band's knack for prime metal songwriting wanes and begins to tread water, creatively.
Overall, Snakes for the Divine is a very good album. I'm just a little disappointed at how much it could have been a great one. Still, for all its flaws, High on Fire has released one of this year's best American metal albums (which isn't too much of a compliment considering how much Scandinavia has been sweeping in this category this year). It delivers in head-pummeling craft, but, as a cohesive product, Snakes for the Divine leaves a little to be desired.