Ahh, here are two surpisingly well-matched metal opponents (or, as we say in the trade, metalponents). High on Fire won the coin toss, and so start the day without preamble, once again rollicking along with singlemindedly hamfisted glory. "Snakes for the Divine" is a Viking feast of an album, from beginning to end, and guaranteed to make you grin as you nod your Neanderthalic head.
Iron Maiden fire back, with an ill-fitting intro of an album. (Seriously, I've listened to "The Final Frontier" dozens of times now, and that first track never gets any less embarrassing.) And you know what? The rest of the album is so good that the sloppy start is almost completely forgiven. It might not have the same caveman ethic that High on Fire so successfully draws from, but that was never really Maiden's thing. Theirs has always been more of a mythological metal, and in that regard "The Final Frontier" offers a record that's every bit as true to Maiden's loftiness, as "Snakes for the Divine" is to High on Fire's baseness. Both bands outdid themselves this time around, but ultimately it's Iron Maiden's triumph that resonates more satisfyingly. They reign over High on Fire, and proceed to the Semifinals, challenging the mighty Bison B.C. on Friday.
Tomorrow, the last of our Quarterfinals pits Norma Jean against The Sword.