On Blessed Black Wings, High on Fire's third full-length, the Bay Area power trio has really come into its own as one of the most punishing metal bands on the planet. Guitarist-singer Matt Pike's monomaniacal vision is his band's crowning virtue. The recent addition of bassist Joe Preston, formerly of the overrated The Melvins, doesn't fundamentally change the High on Fire dynamic: The guitars and drums are the point here. Des Kensel introduces the full-throated screamfest "Devilution," which opens the album with a rockslide of rhythm. Not a note is wasted, from that track all the way through the seven-minute instrumental closer, "Sons of Thunder." Blessed Black Wings is a major advance for High on Fire and an energizing start to what will hopefully be a tremendous year for metal.
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