Cult of Fire - मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान
Iron Bonehead Productions
Atmospheric Black Metal
8 songs (47:33)
Release year: 2013
Cult of Fire
Reviewed by Goat

After a début that was my surprise of the month when I reviewed it early last year, Czech trio Cult of Fire returned in November with an album that stunned many not already in the know. Annoyingly titled by the band in Sanskrit and meaning Ascetic Meditation of Death, the album has taken a step sideways from Triumvirát by focusing on Kali rather than Satan, and introducing new Eastern musical elements such as sitar and chanting. It may sound rather like Ravi Shankar (RIP) meets black metal, but Cult of Fire are careful to ensure that the black metal dominates utterly, absorbing the new elements rather than letting them dominate. The result is an interesting listen, with all of black metal's brutality and atmosphere yet with the added Eastern dimension making the atmospheric effect more unique. It's definitely a worthy follow-up album, building on the band's strengths and showing they can do something out of the norm so early in their career – that they've only been active since 2010 is amazing.

(Although the tracks are irritatingly also titled in Sanskrit, making referring to a particular song a pain for you, me, and everyone else who can't speak Hindi, I'm going to persevere because the added immersion is excellent.) Opener संहार रक्त काली ('Samhara Raktha Kali') begins with a droning sitar before bursting into melodic black metal, the sitar returning for the wonderful melodic surges but vanishing as the track dips into aural violence. It's gorgeously brutal, as pure and cold as black metal gets with the riff worship and blastbeats, using the new elements to make the atmosphere even more intense; towards the end the band break out into chanting, as if you'd discovered some strange cult at ritual in the midst of a storm...

Incredible stuff, and a great opening to an album that continues to impress with अस्तित्व की चिता पर ('On the Funeral Pyre of Existence') which opens with a Sigh-esque organ squeal and continues into a rampaging black metal pounder. Throwing in the sound of a burning fire and a solitary funerary horn at around the halfway mark, it takes a turn for the melancholic, reminiscent of the epic likes of Winterfylleth or Drudkh as the pastoral, 'landscape black metal' elements of Cult of Fire's sound return to the fore. The deep voice on शव साधना ('Shava Sadhana') is very Hate Forest, even if the subtle backing organ isn't, and the epic melodies of मृत्यु का वीभत्स नृत्य ('Gruesome Dance of Death') are pure Norwegian.

As ever, though, Cult of Fire impress at how well they have corralled their influences into a cohesive, original whole, and the slower-paced काली मां ('Kali Ma') shows this off well, opening with ritual chanting and gradually building up with melancholic riffage and rather beautiful piano. Despite the chanted vocals being entirely clean, the atmospheric effect is more gripping than a lot of black metal, and it's a wonderful centrepiece to an excellent album. Cult of Fire deserve to be much bigger on the back of this album, and will definitely make my best of 2013 list; they should be on yours.

Killing Songs :
All are wonderful
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Cult of Fire that we have reviewed:
Cult of Fire - Nirvana reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Cult of Fire - Moksha reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Cult of Fire - Ctvrta Symfonie Ohne reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Cult of Fire - Triumvirát reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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