High On Fire - Death Is This Communion review

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Band: High On Fire
Album: Death Is This Communion
Release date: September 2007

01. Fury Whip
02. Waste Of Tiamat
03. Death Is This Communion
04. Khanrad's Wall
05. Turk
06. Headhunter
07. Rumors Of War
08. DII
09. Cyclopian Scape
10. Ethereal
11. Return To NOD

High On Fire have a distinct, unique sound that can be mistaken for no other band. This album is proof that this band is expanding that sound to make it yet even more unique.

So let me start with a description for those who are unfamiliar with the band. Picture a sound of heavy-as-hell droning, add some soaring leads on top, add in vocals that sound like a tortured Lemmy Kilmister, and as a bonus (which is a fairly new improvement made by this band) add in some folky-type sounding instruments every now and then. This is some very powerful music to say the least.

Ok, so now that the praise is over, let me get down to the album itself. The album opens up with "Fury Whip," a short yet somewhat overused type build-up intro, then breaking into a thunderous middle-eastern influenced riffage. The entire album is filled with this great middle-eastern sounding guitar work. Sure, the chugging rhythms build up a tank-like heaviness, but frankly the heart of this heaviness comes from the drums, who would've thought? Unique drum sounds are usually a hard thing to find in rock or metal, but Des Kensel creates an off-the-wall tribal sound which not only adds to the music, but makes the sound complete. As previously stated, there is a more folkish atmosphere added to this album than in there previous efforts, but at the same time they are careful not to add it in too heavily, so as not to have a cliché folk metal sound that is steadily becoming overused, and not to alienate the previous fan base.

On the flip side, this album can get tiring. There definitely is a droning aspect that falls in between the leads and choruses that makes it hard to tell certain songs apart at times. In comparison to previous albums this repetitive droning happens a lot less, which will be sure to give anyone who dislikes this band a reason to take another look. If you can tolerate a bit of raw, sludgy droning every now and then you'll have no problem with this album.

I truly believe High On Fire have found there sound with this album. All instruments seem to fit together amazingly, as if every second of recording they took into account every instrument, rather than having drums and bass revolve around the guitar work as so many bands do.

I normally end my reviews with: "highly recommended for those into _____" but frankly this band is difficult to classify, lets leave it at "raw heavy metal"…for lack of a better title.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 10
Production: 8

Written by Doc G. | 18.12.2007


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 10   Visited by: 145 users
19.12.2007 - 11:00
Nice review I discovered High On Fire with this album, and it's quickly made its way to the top of my list for 2007. I really enjoy this dirty, sludgy sound they have, and also those very special vocals. It's quite a feat that they can write 8-minute songs that don't get boring, even if their stuff is not that varied. The title-track kills hippies dead by the way.

"On the flip side, this album can get tiring."
I kind of agree with that though, but not really for the same reasons as you. Somehow I need a certain mood to appreciate listening to this album. If I'm not in the required frame of mind, I can't stand more than two songs
19.12.2007 - 15:05
Mr. Noise
Good album, though I don't like it as much as everybody seem to. Going to listen to it more often and will check out earlier albums.
SLUDGE. DOOM. DEATH. Wait, what?

"The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." - Barack Obama
19.12.2007 - 16:15
Erotic Stains
This album has really received much praise in several reviews.
20.12.2007 - 00:28
somewhere on the web, Fenriz of Darkthrone saluted purveyors of "Dirty Metal" - and I think that would be an apt description of the music of High on Fire. It's not nice, it's not pretty, and it's not clean. It's metal and it's dirty.

I love the album myself, one of my favorite releases of the year, in a year when a lot of my favorite bands released some great albums.

I can understand your point about it getting "tiring" - although I think that holds true with a lot of bands who pummel forth a 40+ minute album without too much variation in music. I find Emperor, as great as they are, to be tiring as well if I'm not in the right frame of mind to sit through an entire album in one sitting.

Great review. I'd probably go 8.5 to 9 on the album, depending upon my mood when listening to it.
get the fuck off my lawn.
31.01.2008 - 10:59
Account deleted
amazing album one of 2007 best
02.02.2008 - 17:44
Sleep In Sorrow
Ghost Of The Sun
Well-written review, I really liked this album. It's raw, dirty and fast, but without forgetting the groove.
I didn't like High On Fire until Blessed Black Wings, "Devilution" was the song that won me up and I'm glad it did otherwise I could end up letting this gem pass me.
"It's not funny, my ass is on fire..."
06.02.2008 - 17:29
Account deleted
This is my first album I have from High on Fire and I love it.
It is simply one of the best stoner metal albums ever.
07.02.2008 - 01:27
I've listened to this twice now, but I don't seem to like it as much as everyone else does. Nice review man, but there were better sludge albums released in 2007, especially Saviours and Black Cobra. I still kinda like it though....probably around a 7.5 from me.
25.02.2008 - 21:08
Mr. Doctor
I agree with some guys here...
This metal is not nice and clean... it's just dirty and ugly metal.
But still very good

I loved the vocals.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
02.05.2009 - 21:00
Doc G.
Full Grown Hoser
Written by Deadsoulman on 19.12.2007 at 11:00

It's quite a feat that they can write 8-minute songs that don't get boring

I never noticed how right you were about this until earlier this week. (Ok, admittedly I haven't stopped listening to it since it came out), but I was listening to one song, and thought to myself "Its over already?!" then I looked at my CD player and it turned out the song had been going for like 8 minutes, its always a bonus having songs like that.
"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin

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