Musically, the album revolves around either long mid tempo tracks with big stoner metal riffs and lots of repetition or faster, rumbling low end centric rockers with an almost Motorhead feel, with many of the tracks blending into each other at the mastering stage and most of which featuring absolutely excellent lead guitar work and frantic double-kicks.
The album is not devoid of variety however, one only has to listen to the keys/strings featuring, guitar solo filled ‘DII’ or the amazing eastern influenced instrumental ‘Khandrad’s Wall’ to see that High On Fire have many strings to their bow and really know what they are doing musically.
Album highlights include the aforementioned two tracks as well as the groovy ‘Turk,’ the album closer ‘Return To Nod’ and the excellent Title Track which has one of the best riffs on the entire album as well as possibly the band’s best guitar solo to date.
If you are unfamiliar with the band it may take a few listens to get into, and doesn’t give an amazing first impression unless you sit down and give it your full attention, especially since the first track is arguably the weakest. Once you overcome this initial barrier however, you will discover a masterfully crafted and wholly enjoyable listening experience.
Singer and primary guitarist Matt Pike’s voice has really developed since his days with pioneering seminal stoner band Sleep. His vocal range has expanded greatly and on Death Is This Communion it is incredibly strong, as well as now featuring a lot more light and shade and even occasional melody.
Overall, High On Fire no longer have to live in Sleep’s shadow and are an important band in their own right. Death Is This Communion is a strong and enjoyable album that fans of the band should pick up and fans of the genre should definitely give a try.