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Their best yet. One of 2007's essentials. - 94%

olo, November 21st, 2007

When it comes to High on Fire, with the first three albums taken into account, there are a couple of things that I'd change. One, the production because I like to hear everything clearly and two, the solos that I'd wanted to make a little more sense and maybe throw in some memorable melodies. Looks like Matt Pike knew exactly what I was thinking and with the resultant new slab called Death is this Communion, High on Fire has released what might very well be their best yet.

For the readers here who are not familiar with this band, here's a little background story. Matt Pike was in a band called Sleep in the 90s that helped pioneer the Doom/Stoner genres with about 3 classics and a post-breakup release called Dopesmoker which is one of the most bold statements in music this side of prog rock indulgence. Sleep's Holy Mountain and Jerusalem are extremely influential albums that got to be in permanent rotation for fans of this genre. After the breakup of Sleep, Matt Pike went on to form High on Fire, a much heavier and faster metal band and the rhythm section went on to form the absolutely divine Om (which is scheduled to release the third album a little later this year). Among the other related works, Pike also fronted a shortlived doom metal project called Kalas which released a great self-titled album last year. The dudes from Om are now jamming with Wino and a member of Neurosis on an exciting new project after the breakup of Wino's latest classic band The Hidden Hand.

Now that you have all that to digest let's get to this album under scrutiny this f0ine Sunday evening.

Seattle's underground legend of sorts Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Zeke, Mudhoney, Nebula, The Atomic Bitchwax) provides this album the cleanest production the band has had till date. That's a big plus for me because the first two albums suffered from horrible production and though Blessed Black Wings was a step in the right direction, it wasn't a perfect album what with Matt trying out some strange shit vocally. On this album though, Matt gives his best performance yet as a vocalist with his regular Lemmy-gone-thrash-metal style delivery but always much more interesting than before. He has carried over some of the ideas he had tried with Kalas.

I was complaining about the solos. On this one Matt really takes it up a notch or two with some really memorable hooks and not just the most atonal solo-ing this side of Slayer.

As far as songwriting is concerned, Death is this Communion has the most heaviest and thrashiest of High on Fire moments interestingly mixed with eastern influenced melodies occasionally, mid-paced songs for the stoner and doom fans and also throws in a very interesting instrumental track called DII which will make Amorphis proud. Great hyper-kinetic rhythms from the drummer Des Kensel aptly supported by Jeff Matz from Zeke complete this mighty power trio on this album. Highly recommended.