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High on Fire 

Death Is This Communion (Relapse)

Already regarded as one of modern metal's most face-meltingly fantastic bands, High on Fire further solidifies its reputation with its fourth (and most commanding) album, Death is This Communion. For this outing, the Oakland trio swapped one rock superproducer (Steve Albini) for another (Jack Endino), and welcomed its third bassist (Jeff Matz, formerly of Zeke) into the fold. But the essential components remain intact. Des Kenzel's drum-bludgeoning comes in thunderous proportions and frontman Matt Pike is a double threat with his wrathful howl and his gargantuan, Iommi-fied guitar work. If anything, the disc is a distillation of the band's potent attack. Aptly titled opener "Fury Whip" rides a lightning riff into the fray for six walloping minutes; the title track and "Rumors of War" charge just as hard. The threesome remains impressively heavy and forbidding even when acoustic guitar comes to the fore, as during the instrumental "Khanrad's Wall," or on the adroit intro to the raging "Cyclopian Scape." The latter track, like the rest of Communion, sounds like an army of darkness bursting through the gates to greatness.

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May 27, 2020

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