“Death Is This Communion” is nothing new from High on Fire. It does not forge a new direction, it does not reinvent the wheel, it does not outdo past albums…but it doesn’t need to. I am pleased to say it is Blessed Black Wings Pt. 2 – equally powerful, equalling thundering and gripping. It slays. Simple.
For those unaware of the HoF sound- they fuse the powerful dirges of Sleep and Sabbath, the rampaging onslaughts of Slayer and stunning guitar heroics from Matt Pike, truly one of the best leads in metal today. For “Death Is This Communion” the band brought in some new flavours to the mix, such as bursts of 12 string guitars and some middle-eastern instruments to give a more international feel. This works very well, especially when juxtaposed with crushing metal, such as with one of the album’s highlights “Waste of Tiamat” and the short excerpt “Khanrad’s Wall”.
This is not to say HoF have branched out and beyond their sound. Having such a unique sound in the first place, it would have been difficult, and potentially ruining to attempt a dramatic shift. The classic HoF tones are there in full glory. Opener “Fury Whip” immediately recalls the raging “Devilution”, and the title track’s monolithic doom harkens to the bands origins. “Turk” is the standout track for me as it combines everything great about the band, and sees Pike experimenting with a little bit more melody with his vocals.
For fans of past releases this should not disappoint. Every box is checked for the HoF fan. For those new to the band I would suggest starting with “Blessed Black Wings”, as it is the band’s most accessible, and often most inspired work.