Blessed Black Wings is the 3rd full-length studio album by American stoner metal act High on Fire. The album was released in February 2005 by Relapse Records. Blessed Black Wings is produced by Steve Albini who, among other things, have produced a good deal of Neurosis output. There are 9 tracks on the album while the Japanese and the vinyl version of the album features the Judas Priest cover Rapid Fire as a bonus track.
The music on the album is a variation of stoner metal with a filhty rock´n´roll attitude. Imagine a mix of the first four Black Sabbath albums, the early Motörhead albums and Show No Mercy (1983) by Slayer and you´re just about there. The thrash metal influences are not that obvious but they are there. The energy level on this album is admirable and you have to be deaf if you´re not blown away by the energetic and powerful opener Devilution. All tracks are of high quality though and while I could have wished for more variation both within tracks and also between tracks, I´m generally very satisfied with what I´m hearing. The instrumentation is simple. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals. It´s really impressive how much sound the band are able to get out of that. They are the epitome of a power trio. The music is filthy and there are tons of badass attitude and earthy atmosphere to go along. The vocals by Matt Pike are incredibly raw. It´s like Lemmy swallowed some rusty nails and sang the vocal lines. This time around Matt Pike succeeds in incorporating a bit of melody into his singing too and that works very well and brings some needed variation in the vocal department. Don´t expect pretty clean vocals though. Even when he sings melodic his vocals are caustic to say the least.
Blessed Black Wings is an excellent album by High on Fire and it´s safe to say that the band has stepped it up a notch compared to the two predecessors. The songs are better written and more powerful and energetic, the production is better and it´s like the band are burning with a desire to make the best album they can. Just take one listen to that caustic vocal delivey by Matt Pike and you just know that High on Fire mean business. A 3.5 - 4 star rating is deserved. I still think the songs lack a bit of variation so that´s why it´s not a full 4.