High On Fire
"Blessed Black Wings"

(Relapse Records 2005)High On Fire - Blessed Black Wings

It has been five years since High On Fire's debut album, "The Art of Self Defense," a true metal album of murky instrumentation and the time since then seems to have suited the band well. 2002 saw the release of the band's second album, "Surrounded By Thieves," and the beginning of a change in their sound as it began to refine itself. The band's newest release, "Blessed Black Wings" unites singer and guitar player Matt Pike, formerly of the stoner band Sleep known for their lengthy songs, and drummer Des Kensel with Joe Preston, formerly of the Melvins and drone originators Earth, on bass for a Motörhead-meets-Slayer style album produced by Steve Albini.

Kensel's assault on the drums seems never ending as it joins with the speeding instrumentation on "Devilution." A thundering storm, "The Face of Oblivion" pounds a slower rhythm into your head before the long instrumental finish builds dynamically to a full sound. Guitar crunches on "Cometh Down Hessian" for a result that would make Lemmy proud while the chaotic instrumentation on the latter half of "Blessed Black Wings" finds Pike's guitar squealing through the madness. High On Fire crash between a quiet guitar melody and loud banging instrumentation on "To Cross The Bridge" before Pike's vocals are swallowed up somewhere in the middle of the tornado.

High On Fire have found a comfortable middle road between their two previous albums as "Blessed Black Wings" smartly marries their heavy sludge instrumentation with a remarkably rapid tempo. "Blessed Black Wings" is heavy enough for the metal fans and with enough pounding instrumentation for the rock fans.

B

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