Founding drummer Des Kensel leaves High on Fire after 21 years

Kensel's departure comes prior to the band's upcoming fall tour with Power Trip

High on Fire
High on Fire, photo by Jen Rosenstein

High on Fire drummer and founding member Des Kensel revealed that he is leaving the band after 21 years. His departure comes less than a week after High on Fire announced a fall co-headlining tour with Power Trip.

In his statement — later reposted by the band on Facebook — Kensel offered a sentimental farewell, citing personal reasons for his departure, which appears amicable. See the full post below:

“As a founding member of High On Fire, I feel blessed to have spent the last 21 years traveling around the world pursuing my childhood dream to write and play music. After eight albums, countless tours, and a Grammy win, I am very thankful for what we have been able to accomplish as a band.

Being a full time professional musician can have its challenges. One gets through those challenges with patience, hard work and perseverance. After much consideration, it is time for me to announce that I will no longer be performing with High On Fire. I will now be focusing on new opportunities and spending time with my family.

I would like to sincerely thank all of our fans for your support throughout the years. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

Lastly, I would like to wish my band-mates the best of luck in the future.”

With High on Fire set to co-headline a major fall tour with Power Trip, the band has till November to find a replacement for Kensel, which may be easier said than done. Kensel started the band in 1998 alongside frontman Matt Pike and original bassist George Rice, who left in 2004.

(Buy: Tickets to High on Fire’s Upcoming Tour)

As a drummer, Kensel’s ferocious percussion and the ability to shift between speed metal, thrash, and the slower tempos of doom have been vital to High on Fire’s musical prowess. He will be sorely missed behind the kit, but his contributions will live on in the enormous body of work he put into the band’s eight studio albums, the last of which includes the Grammy-winning title track “Electric Messiah”.

Tickets for High on Fire’s tour with Power Trip went on sale today at High on Fire’s official website, with tickets also available here for shows that sell out.

Meanwhile, in other High on Fire news, the band’s three-song EP, Bat Salad — previously released physically on Record Store Day — is now available digitally. It contains the original title track and covers of Celtic Frost’s “Into the Crypts” and Bad Brains’ “Don’t Bother Me”.