High on Fire - "Death Is This Communion" (CD)
"Death Is This Communion" track listing:
1. Fury Whip
2. Waste of Tiamat
3. Death Is This Communion
4. Khanrad's Wall
7. Rumors of War
9. Cyclopian Scape
11. Return to Nod
Reviewed by buickmckane on April 9, 2009
High on Fire’s fourth album (third with Relapse Records) has been awarded the titles of third best album by of the year by Revolver Magazine, ninth best album of the year by Metalhammer Magazine, and fourth best album of the year for guitar work by Total Guitar Magazine. It deserves all this and more. High on Fire has created a sound that awes listeners with their brutal sound and demands their respect by holding a flaming sword to their throat. “Death is this Communion” is aggressive, mysterious, and drenched in allusions to mythical and biblical stories that one must have the knowledge of a god to understand completely. Or if you don’t care to research all of that history, the music will astound you anyway.
The first song of the album, “Fury Whip,” begins with victorious guitar and marching drums. Pike spurts phrases of kings, fools, demons, and angels in a burned voice. A choir barks in a hardcore style. It’s all so aggressive and technical and primal at the same time one loses himself quickly in an ancient ecstasy.
“Death is this Communion” could almost be the soundtrack for a war movie. Matt growls in a low voice to convey the plan of attack. Then he screams while rushing to the battleground on his mighty horse. The music crescendos and flows throughout the whole album, giving it an organic feel. Matt Pike demonstrates his guitar-playing abilities in every song during the breakdowns when he sweeps his hand up and down the neck and strums at break-neck speed. Des Kensel proves that he is a man of the world by playing drum riffs you can hear in Motorhead to beats heard during tribal warfare. In fact, High on Fire has one song on the album that is a drum solo: “Headhunter.”
Anyone, metalhead or not, can appreciate the stories presented through the poetic lyrics about sea monsters killing their masters and Sumerian and Babylonian gods. All around, the album is pleasing to the ears and imagination (and you may imagine yourself in an opium den surrounded by belly dancers during “Khanrad’s Wall.”)
I thoroughly enjoyed “Death is the Communion” and I’m sure most listeners will also.
Highs: Mythological and Biblical subject matter mixed with technical guitar work came out amazing.
Lows: Lyrics are sung two or three times.
Bottom line: A mind-blowing listening experience every time.
Get more info including news, reviews, interviews, links, etc. on our High on Fire band page.