Monday, December 16, 2013

Cult of Fire

Cult of Fire - मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान
Iron Bonehead Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. संहार रक्त काली
2. अस्तित्व की चिता पर
3. अस्तित्व की चिता पर
4. काली मां
5. मृत्यु ही सत्य है
6. मृत्यु का वीभत्स नृत्य
7. खण्ड मण्ड योग
8. दिव्य प्रेम की ज्वाला से दग्ध

After hearing "Triumvirát" I was pretty eager to hear new output from this band and here we have it! The new album features a beautiful cover painting of the goddess Kali, which lead me to think there would either be some Occult Black Metal influence or Hindu influence. The fact that all the titles are written in Sanskrit clearly pointed towards more of the Hindu, rather than the usual Swedish brand of death worship.

The opening track really helps set the atmosphere for that sort of cultural and Indian vibe to the music. I was sort of expecting to have more of a blend like you would find with Rudra, but I'm not sure they really achieved a perfect blend. This is a really ambitious work and it may take them a few albums to blend that Czech intensity with more atmospheric elements. When they nail it, it works perfectly, but it's somewhat inconsistent. It's more consistent this time around than before and there isn't any song on here that I would say is bad, because it's really spectacular Black Metal at the end of the day and I will definitely listen to this album regularly. However, as a critic, I'm voicing the one complaint I had for an otherwise flawless performance from this group. If they keep building on this style they will really achieve some great albums in the future, the only other band in their area that seems to be really focusing on this is Inferno with their album "Omniabscene." But if I remember that album correctly, it doesn't have nearly the same level of vicious impact Cult of Fire does, instead they go fully into building atmosphere, which is great. I would love to see if Cult of Fire can bring that viciousness of the Czech scene to atmospheric elements all at once, I think this is an immense challenge, but Cult of Fire is the only one nearly getting it truly perfect.

I should also make it a point to discuss the art direction of this album. It's really quite interesting and there is a full booklet that comes with a lot of art. I'm sure it is heavily influenced by the Hindu religion and there is much in there that caters towards all kinds of imagery for death worship. Infernal Vlad has stated that he read books, contacted people from India, and essentially immersed himself in the culture and religion of Kali. I think from this point of view Cult of Fire truly did capture the concept behind this. I dare say it is a lot more evocative than Dissection's approach with "Reinkaos" and the way other Swedish bands seem to approach this topic. I feel Cult of Fire truly captures the intended cultural references and celebrates a level of diversity that is usually not around in these bands. A lot of bands just put their own twist to the legends or invoke names because of some Occult writer, and it seems Cult of Fire went to the source of the legends and took their influence from their. The end result is an album that feels very genuine with an atmosphere that builds around this terror and joy in recognition of the Goddess Kali.

Again, a highly recommended album of 2013. If this doesn't hit my top ten, then it will definitely hit my honorable mentions, because their ideas are genuinely very good and the music is honestly very good as well, I just think Cult of Fire can tweak their sound a little bit more to really nail a level of perfection. Once they hit that level, I think the project will stand as a unique sounding voice in the Black Metal genre. In the end, this is certainly a must buy album at the very least!

Cult of Fire - Triumvirát
Demonhood Productions, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Závěť Světu
2. Satan Mentor
3. Černá Aura
4. Horizont Temnoty
5. Z Jícnů Propastí
6. Sluhové Věčného
7. Triumvirát
8. Návrat Zářného Zla
9. Bytosti Z Prázdnoty

Given my love for Czech Black Metal, I'm actually surprised it took me over a year to hear of this band from when they put this out. I only started hearing about them when a new release was imminent for 2013. Not to mention they have a rather prolific line-up for this project featuring members of Dark Storm, Maniac Butcher, with Tom Coroner on drums who seems to have played in a large portion of the Czech Metal scene in general! So, given this class of musicians it's almost unsurprising to hear an incredibly high quality performance.

Cult of Fire started off with releasing two songs on a 10" vinyl in 2011, but since both songs show up on this CD, I've decided to just start off reviewing this. "Triumvirát" marks the first full length effort from this group and it is an incredible album. It really puts together a wonderful balance of intensity and atmosphere. Some tracks like "Satan Mentor" actually remind me of some of the great bands hailing out of Quebec, Canada. Given that atmospheric influence married with the usual Czech intensity actually makes for a strangely unique listen. They keep this blend going for pretty much the entire album, and it is a very good listen overall, but some tracks are certainly stronger than others. The album closes with the title track which is one of the more atmospheric songs on this album and a truly beautiful ending to this impressive debut.

As a bonus the last two tracks are from 2011's "20:11" vinyl release.  This EP was apparently inspired by the disaster at Chernobyl and was released on the day of it's 25th anniversary. The music is more typical for what you'd expect for a Black Metal band. The music is certainly solid and very well done, but you can tell that "Triumvirát" is by far the more mature and well developed aspect of their music. I think they had a good idea of what they were going to go for in terms of the music, but didn't start locking down the real essence until 2012. In "Návrat Zářného Zla" there is a middle section that slows down with just tortured screaming and I imagine this goes with the screaming of dying people in the Power Plant. However, the atmospheric break is brief, before we return to the usual Black Metal performance. They really managed to blend these styles together much more seamless with the full length.

This is definitely a band to be watching in the future, I expect to hear fairly incredible things from this group. I love the imagery for this group as well. If you find pictures of this bands live sets you will be pleasantly surprised. The track listing on this album is written in the Theban alphabet and gives the album a very "cult" aesthetic. This is one of the better new bands recently formed, so definitely give them a listen.

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