High On Fire shake it up again with Death Is This Communion
John Kujawski
1/2/2008 8:03:50 PM

In 2001, word had spread fast about High on Fire. At least in the Seattle area, it seemed that in every club people were talking about this three-piece metal band from Oakland, California, fronted by vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike. Despite rumors that the band played at such a loud volume they literally made clubs shake, the talk was that they were great musicians with a unique sound. They lived up to the hype, both live and on recordings.

Death is this Communion [Relapse Records] is the latest recording from High on Fire, and much like the band’s previous three releases, the sound is truly addictive. Producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden) does an impressive job of making the band sound polished and sophisticated.

Pike’s guitar work is better than ever this time around: a super-high energy sound with fast riffs thrown in the mix that will no doubt satisfy fans of thrash music and good underground rock. It’s a treat to listen to him burn through track after track, putting everything he has into his playing, and even tossing in a few shredding guitar solos here and there.

Though the rush of electric guitar is certainly brutal and distorted, great melodies make it into the mix, especially on tracks such as “Waste of Tiamat” and “Fury Whip,” which are impossible not to be drawn into after just one listen. Pike sings over the devastating guitar sound in somewhat of a hoarse, roughed-up vocal style that manages to fit quite well and adds to the intensity of the songs.

Aside from the effective guitar work, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz offer a super-solid rhythm section that is noticeable from the first minutes of the CD to the last. “Fury Whip,” in particular, offers great, hard-hitting beats that capture the title of the song. One can almost imagine a person striking a whip to the ground in anger to the tempo of this song. For fans of great drummers, there’s even a short drum solo thrown in to keep listeners happy.

With the word being spread on so many bands nowadays, there are a lot of CDs on the market that simply aren’t worth buying. High on Fires’s Death is this Communion is one that is not only worth buying; it’s worth waiting in line for.


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