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Incendiary Overdose - 70%

marktheviktor, January 1st, 2009

High on Fire's 2007 album Death is This Communion succeeds at being a shining example of what heavy metal should sound like. I bought this album thinking it would be more doom metal than it turned out to be since the band is fronted by Sleep guitarist Matt Pike. Instead, this is more heavy/stoner metal sound than anything. It's pretty good and since it defied my expectations in a positive way, I can understand why it has been so highly acclaimed.

These songs are rugged and they soar with might and muscle. These guys know what they are doing at it shows. Mike Pike's vocals have the gravel of Lemmy's but with a higher range and set at a slower pace. There is an old school delivery here and they are thick and consistent. Fury Whip has a medium pace riff opening with the drums pounding down a faster speed than the guitar. The bass moderates the two rates nicely. Towards the end the shouting of the title words lay down a rocky pavement to some double bass wash. Waste of Tiamet starts with a frenzied acoustic riff followed by thunderous bass line and then kicks out a wall of layered riffs while the acoustic maintains a nice fade in the background.

As stated, the drumming is top notch. Death is This Communion is a song that comes to mind. It commences with a thudding of punishing quality. It's heard nicely in the mix where alot of this album gets its power. The drummer lays down a lumbering distinction with the beats taking full advantage of the bass' rhythm tow. However, I'm afraid this song like some of the others goes on just a bit too long. The band is keen to perform at one such a solid and slow tread that's just a notch faster than most traditional doom metal. However, I do appreciate the bouldery temperment that the record upholds every step of the way.

Khanrad's Wall is an impressive instrumental interlude of Eastern sound. Similar to the beginning to Waste of Tiamet, it serves as one of those good old stoner metal ornaments that intercut the heaviness. Turk is a slightly faster than usual piece that prompts southern sludge standards. The gliding solo is a thing of beauty there. It lingers against the pace of the drums giving it a heavy as fuck quality. So, that track is sandwiched by instrumental pieces. Headhunter is a flashy drum solo. This isn't just a random clinic of the drums. It's a belligerent beating that breaks into Rumors of War. This song is ok but I found it sounded too much like Turk. I still dug the drums though. If anything, it's a solid reprise of that song.

I actually don't mind the frequent instrumental interludes that pepper this album. They are properly weighted amongst the songs giving the music credible diversity. Dii is one such song. I enjoyed the mellotron that seeps into the melody. Cyclopian Scape is another good but much too long track. Matt Pike does a splendid job with the soloing and frantic riffing on it though.

High on Fire is a great metal band that has put forth an extremely accomplished piece of work here. No song sounds ot of place or tacked on. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most well binded set of songs on a metal record that I have heard in sometime. Death is This Communion is an original album but its greatest virtue is that it sounds so natural with its heaviness. I don't think I have heard a band that exudes and excels this in such an effortless way. Experience counts for every thing I guess.