If you caught this doom metal trio’s July show at The Other Side, your eardrums are probably still recovering. Not surprisingly, High on Fire’s pummeling onstage theatrics translates well onto digital format with Death Is This Communion, an epic ride into mammoth riffs, guttural bass and tight drum arrangements.
Opener “Fury Whip” kicks things into gear as guitarist Matt Pike’s trademark shredding and banshee growl take center stage, while bassist Jeff Matz provides beef on the low-end and drummer Des Kensel offers swift hammering on the skins. “Khanrad’s Wall” takes on a mellower, Middle Eastern tone, just before Pike and company delve back into some serious slaying with “Turk.” The rest of the album plays out like this, as comparatively calm interludes mix with forceful anthems.
Esteemed producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney) coaxed these shifting dynamics into a sound that’s both immaculate and raw—Pike’s vocals are upped in volume and each instrument is given room to be heard clearly and loudly, while the dirty, down-tuned guitar work of previous efforts remain intact. Death is This Communion is simply one of the best metal albums of the year. (Ira Sather-Olson)