Finding himself committed once again to a slower, gloomier aesthetic with this Frisco indie-metal all-star project, High on Fire/Sleep frontman Matt Pike chose not only to swim rather than sink but also to spin it into the Devil's water ballet. Fierce shades of Sabbath carry over from Pike's HoF scene-busting, but he's guitarless this time, having found capable hands in Econochrist's Andy Branton, whose blinding leadwork cooks with even purer hydrocarbons. Meanwhile Pike has found his bee-stung-puma scream; not that it's necessary — the El Producto death grip on his throat continues to produce one of the most strangely addictive sounds in the genre, transforming depleted Judas Priest soil like "Voyager" and "Monument to Ruins" into white-knuckle spectacle.

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Eric W. Saeger