High On Fire
Blessed Black Wings (Relapse)
by Ari M. Joffe
Get ready to fall down on your knees and bow to your boom box, for your ears are truly not worthy of the sounds that emanate from High On Fire‘s Blessed Black Wings.
This album is simply tremendous. The trio of Matt Pike (guitar/vocals), Des Kensel (drums), and the groups’ newest member, one time Melvin Joe Preston (bass) have taken the best aspects of every era of metal – from Sabbath to Motörhead to Celtic Frost to Metallica to Melvins – and mixed it all up into a boiling broth of riffs, melody, and power. In the past, High On Fire used a lot of doomy 4/4 grooves for the slow tunes and relied on 6/8 gallops for the fast numbers. All that stuff’s still around, but this time, they also use some straight old-school chugging thrash beats to make tunes like “Cometh Down Hessian” and “Devilution” get up and KILL! The HUGE influence at work here seems to be Slayer. This album could in some ways be the modern equivalent, not of Reign in Blood, but of Seasons in the Abyss: A much more textured, mature album, full of a variety of different ideas that all work together perfectly. That’s Blessed Blood Wings.
If you’ve never heard of High On Fire, here’s a great place to start. Time will tell, but I’m starting to think – as great as the first two albums are – that this one will be remembered as their first true masterpiece. Let’s hope the next one’s as good.