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Death is This Communion is the 2007 album of High on Fire released on Relapse Records. Being partial to a bit of sludge metal with slow heavy riffs and fast wiry solos on the top - this is almost a bit of a dream. They seem to alternate from track to track between fast and aggressive to slow and marauding with even some rather classical sections getting showcased. The vocals also seem to vary, at times with Matt Pike having that husky growl of Lemmy on some tracks and having a more commercial American rock band sound like Dave Grohl on others - that's a sound which particularly annoys me.
So overall it's a pretty good album but it's not without its faults, another one is that despite mentioning the songs varying - I would say that the two styles are so regularly used that a lot of tracks sound similar.
Return to Nod, Turk, Death is this Communion and Fury Whip are the tracks to look out for. The early heavy riff of Fury Whip is a good introduction to what awaits.
The album is notoriously influenced by David Icke amongst other things!
1. "Fury Whip" - 6:14
2. "Waste of Tiamat" - 5:44
3. "Death Is This Communion" - 8:34
4. "Khanrad's Wall" - 2:27
5. "Turk" - 5:03
6. "Headhunter" - 1:24
7. "Rumors of War" - 2:51
8. "DII" - 3:45
9. "Cyclopian Scape" - 7:30
10. "Ethereal" - 6:56
11. "Return to NOD" - 6:18
High On Fire is a three-piece metal band from California. The band formed back in 1999 and to date has released a total of four studio albums. 'Death Is This Communion' is the fourth studio album from the band, an eleven track release which showcases High On Fire's special brand of Viking inspired heavy metal. The bands vocalist Matt Pike has an incredibly distinctive voice, a hearty war cry that can be heard present in every track here and never does the vocal tone of the man disappoint. Instrumentally also the music has much to offer and right from the offset with the track 'Fury Whip' the music is greatly impressive here.
A quick look down the tracklist of this release and the influence of war upon the bands music soon becomes apparent. Viking imagery is often used in the bands lyrics, this is something that works well and always the music of High On Fire has plenty to offer. Instrumentally the music is incredibly hard hitting and vocally also the bands sound is supremely strong. Music website Drowned In Sound state that 'This is what heavy music was made for', newspaper The Independent on the other hand declares that 'Death Is This Communion' is 'One of the year's most important metal releases'; I have reason to agree with both of these sources and having heard many a metal album in the year 2007 this was definitely one of the better efforts if not the very best. Whereas some bands can get a little too hung up on gimmicks with their music, High On Fire is not a band that relies purely on this factor. The music of High On Fire could well be described as 'Viking Metal' if you will in that the lyrics often deal with the subject of the medieval; it's not just all gimmick and no quality however and High On Fire is in fact an incredibly talented band.
Clocking in at just under the hour mark; 'Death Is This Communion' is an absolutely exceptional album and always High On Fire offers up an excellent quality of sound here. The music progresses well and never does the sound created disappoint here. It could be said that the tracks are all fairly similar on this album, I guess this could be seen as a downside of the release in that there's a lack of variety offered; the plus side of this is however that if you like one track from this album then you can rest assured that you're going to like them all. It's easy to draw comparisons to the music of Motorhead here, an incredibly similar sound has been created by High On Fire with this album and particularly in the vocal department these similarities quickly become apparent. High On Fire's vocalist Matt Pike very much has his own distinctive tone of voice, it's similarly husky to that of Motorhead's Lemmy however and in my opinion this is no bad thing at all.
Two purely instrumental tracks can be found on this album; 'Khanrad's Wall' and 'Headhunter' also. Both of these tracks work well, the latter being my particular favourite of the pair. 'Headhunter' is a drum solo from the bands Des Kensel - a powerful piece of music and one that is put across incredibly well by the man here. I love drum solos and this is certainly a strong one; the other instrumental track 'Khanrad's Wall' features the whole band however and also is greatly impressive. It's the vocals of High On Fire that makes the music stand out so strongly throughout much of this album, even here however when vocals are not present the music is absolutely excellent. The bands members here show themselves to be incredibly competent musicians, this is a highly talented band and with every track on this album a great talent and supreme level of ability is shown.
Closing track 'Return to NOD' provides a fantastic finale for the album, one final moment of glory; a six minute display of fine instrumental and vocal sound. It's by no means the best track on the album, it works well though and once more the supreme ability of High On Fire as a band shines through strongly. This band is an incredibly tight unit, all three members of High On Fire combine together extremely well and the music of this album therefore always sounds excellent. Never does this 'Death Is This Communion' album fail to impress, the tracks may all be very similar but the band does enough here to maintain your full interest throughout and hold you under its spell right to the very end of the album. I'm not generally one for the longer track, the band has mostly here concentrated on longer offerings however and I personally absolutely love what the band has done and achieved here.
If you like heavy music then High On Fire's 'Death Is This Communion' is definitely an album to check out. Always the music is excellent here and although variety is not a strong point of High On Fire's music the band is definitely very good at what it does. The band took three years between the release of third album 'Blessed Black Wings' and this, their fourth; it was definitely worth the wait though and certainly the music here does not disappoint. Released through Relapse Records, this is an album that I just cannot recommend highly enough; for fans of heavy metal purchasing this album is a definite must and if you do so I'm sure that you shall surely not be disappointed with what you hear. If you're not a fan of Motorhead this probably won't be of appeal; it's the strongest comparison I can make in terms of sound and if you are a fan of the aforementioned artist then you'll definitely appreciate 'Death Is This Communion'.
Label: Relapse Records
Release Date: September 10th 2007
Originally posted by me on my website Alt-UK.com
Disc #1 Tracklisting
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