"Death is This Communion" (Relapse; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

It's been almost three years since High on Fire's last effort, "Blessed Black Wings." The new CD, "Death is This Communion," pretty much just picks up on the same trail. It's like a cross between Motorhead and Slayer with occasional flashes of Celtic Frost and even Matt Pike's previous band, Sleep. 

The tone is largely heavy and moody and at times there is a rather massive feel to their approach. In some ways they are very much one of the best examples of a real metal band that is going on today. They predominately stick to the medium fast tempo songs and it's largely pure metal without the pretense of trying or even wanting to be anything else. I can appreciate that and it's good to have a band that has become as reliable at plying their trade as High on Fire have become. 

Still, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed that "Death is This Communion" didn't see the band push beyond their standards a little. Yes, it's a fine album, but I was really expecting them to explode at this point. Instead, this CD is more of a constant high simmer than a boil. Sometimes, the band gets to the fringes of doing something spectacular, but they never quite exploded like I was hoping they would. 

Maybe my expectations are a bit too high, but that's what was going through my mind as I listened to this album. As I said above, "Death is This Communion" is a fine album that manages to combine elements of doom, speed and classic metal. It's crushing at times, but never quite pulls off the unexpected. High on Fire doesn't compromise anything, which is commendable, but they have yet to produce a truly great album because this one is, once again, merely good. 

Despite the fact "Death is This Communion" is likely one of the year's Top Twenty albums and will generate many repeat plays by me in upcoming weeks, I was still hoping that the band would stretch their wings out just a tad more.

For more information, check out www.highonfire.com.  

"Blessed Black Wings" (Relapse; 2005)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Ever wondered what the Apocalypse would sound like? Wonder no more, thanks to High on Fire and the trio's demonically charged nine-track offering, "Blessed Black Wings."

"Blessed Black Wings" is a metal deity of epic proportions. Jarring, explosive, and, above all, expansively loud, tracks like the title cut and "Devilution" radiate the kind of devious power that only Satan himself could conjure. 

Featuring generous helpings of percussive might, commanding exhibitions of pummeling bass grooves and, topping it all off, a twin guitar/vocal assault by Matt Pike that is both engrossing and downright frightening, "Blessed Black Wings" marks not only the perfect amalgamation of Black Sabbath and Slayer, but may just be the most evil rock album you'll hear all year.

For more information, check out www.highonfire.com 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2022 15:17:12 -0400.