More is definetly better seems to be the motto with this new HOF release. Matt Pike & Co have managed the unexpected by producing an album, which in my opinion is better then the previous 'Blessed Black Wings'. The first thing I noticed was the quality of the production. While I appreciated the live sound Steve Albini engineered on the last one, 'Death...' is just that much cleaner sounding. This was produced by Jack Endino, who's credits include bleach & incesticide for Nirvana along with Mudhoney, the Atomic Bitchwax & soundgarden to name afew. Every component is handled clearly & allowed to breath. Certain tracks focus more on Pike's blistering guitar work while others thrive on the excellent drumming or bass. Another initial dissapointment was that Joe Preston (Melvins/Thrones) is no longer on bass duty although this soon dissolved on listening to the title track, a clear favourite. Jeff Matz bassline providing an ominous brooding template for Pike's quality vocal/guitar delivery. The track, an eight minute beast, has a dark druggy feel to it, almost tribal in nature, produced in part by Des Kensel's quality drumming. Kensel has such a monumental thundering style bringing to mind the clear intentions of war conveyed in the lyrics & art work. There are several tempo shifts & drum pattern variations on display, utilising double bass blasts & constant rolls & fills.
The album as a whole is generally longer than previous offerings & is split up by three really good instrumentals, most noteable of which are 'DII' which has a medieval style Mellotron & the pure angry drums of 'Headhunter'. Also, Pike has taken to the nine string guitar to provide some suitably dark intro's & breakdown sections as evidenced on 'Waste of Tiamat'. The old Motorhead references are also still in place such as on Opener 'Fury Whip' with Pike's screams of 'The fool's religion unprophet's truth, Live self destruction, bad luck's your noose' & the short & brutal call to arms of 'Rumors of War'. 'Turk' is also a brillantly catchy number.
I haven't stopped listening to this since I bought it on it's day of release & while it may still be a bit too early to tell, this is shaping up to be my album of the year. Considering the high praise given to the previous album, some may not be completely sold on first listen, but given repeated plays the true honest to god hell fire quality comes screaming to the fore. Where the band goes from here is anyone's guest but with music this strong & focused, does it really matter? All in all, this is another modern day classic.