High On Fire Blessed Black Wings

High On Fire Blessed Black Wings
After delivering two albums and one EP of deafening doom-laden thrash, Oakland’s High on Fire should hopefully rid the band of the constant reminders of singer/guitarist Matt Pike’s old band, the highly influential doom peddlers Sleep. Pike and the band seem up for the job, ditching long-time Sleep and HoF producer Billy Anderson in favour of none other than the king of loud misery, Steve Albini. The result is Blessed Black Wings — a faster, more complex album that devastates with its intense volume and crushing riffs. Albini’s presence isn’t as prominent as most of the other records he’s shaped; HoF seem to overpower and explode out of the usual compression Albini usually pushes on his subject. That isn’t to say that Albini wasted his time and the band’s money. He’s captured the band’s raw power and on the album’s standout track, "Brother in the Wind,” you can hear it in the non-stop chugging rush and most effectively in Pike’s most pronounced and melodic vocal attack, mirroring the audible gravel-chords of Lemmy. In fact Pike’s D&D lyrics are much easier to decipher with some stronger and clearer vocals proving he’s developing into more of a proper vocalist unafraid of actually holding a tune. When the epic build of the closing instrumental "Sons of Thunder” hits, you get the sense that the band have achieved what they set out to do with Albini — move forwards as a band by recording their strongest and most commanding album yet. (Relapse)