Death Is This Communion is nearly an hour of strictly conquering and punishing primal knowledge. It may come to the audience as deadly as a striking cobra or have the ability to lop the heads off a marble statue. The vocals and guitar which are covered by Matt Pike give entryways to new additional bassist Jeff Matz. An icon on the set, the percussion is covered by Des Kensel who adds depth and real grime into the mix for High On Fire.
They orchestrate from the opening piece, “Fury Whip” which is more ceremonial than any testament of crushing power. From the clouds separating on those first low-tuned guitar strums that are paired on the accents of cymbal crashes and tom hits. There is a majestic nature to the performances on Death Is This Communion and the entire format is closer to a jungle haze where members are lost in the thematic world.
Shown especially on the middle of the journey track, “Headhunter” that is entirely percussive solos with these tribes that join together on the drums with distortion and fuzz beginning to overpower the mix. Starting sluggishly and lumbering, the rolls on the floor tom pick up and really begin to act as a rogue wave that eventually conquers the audience.
The transition from “Headhunter” into “Rumors Of War” follows a similar drum pattern, but adding the electronic instrumentation to become a complete saga full of hellfire. High On Fire gives one of their strongest production performances on “Rumors Of War” which is also one of the shortest tracks on Death Is This Communion.
Toward the bridge of the track, vocalist Pike gives a guttural nearly spoken-word display that illustrates, “The snakes come slithering, anarchy. Chaotic hunters rise, spit in their evil eyes.” The guitar and bass ramp up to be harsher as the narration describes, “Stand our ground with hate and fury, fear that comes will die. Our enemies have come to life, now they exalt the fiend.”
High On Fire turns pages of historic tablets taking inspiration from biblical scriptures and the absent-minded worlds of dense forests and raging fires, Death Is This Communion quickly becomes the soundtrack of the woods.
Built for the rugged and rough, Death Is This Communion is abysmal through the mix and sees a sightless pit with no bottom as an eternal resting place. Less for the intricacies and more for the emotion, High On Fire is the experimental cocktail that gives base for monuments to fall.