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Listen: Cult Of Fire’s Late Early Entry For Best Of 2013 2014 Honors

Yay lefty guitarist (right) or maybe he's turned around :)
Yay lefty guitarist (right) or maybe he’s turned around :)

It’d be hard to accuse Cult Of Fire of a fear of commitment. After all, their new album (and each of its songs) bears a title spelled in weird foreign characters: मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान. That’s Sanskrit (but might display as a row of question marks and gibberish), and since it can be written, spoken, or read by hardly any metal fans, it shields an already low-traction record from word-of-mouth momentum. Heck, even the track numbers are squiggles and junk! That’s fearless!

And more, who else but the fanatically committed would begin their black metal opus with more than two minutes of George Harrison-esque drones from the Indian subcontinent? And does a non-serious dude have the endurance to tremelo-pick about 40 minutes of single-note riffs? And what team of extreme metal face-screamers has engineered so many ways to juke listeners from hypnosis to thrashing and back again, beyond the hoary old “lull-you-to-sleep-then-slam-an-elbow-in-your-nuts” trick? (Okay, there is one of those.)

Or maybe what drives Cult Of Fire is not surety but recklessness, for not all of their good ideas survive on the vine: Those one-note theme riffs sound un-gussied (“played by a human”), but occasionally saggy (“played by a bored human”); the fourth track (“काली मां”) dares to mount a grand piano (yay!) — but one played by a wine-drunk Jon Oliva (no way!); like great singers Ronnie James Dio and Quorthon, Cult Of Fire croaker Evilish can be caught sounding like an incredulous Muppet.

Yet elsewhere, Jon Lord-ian organ pulses beneath snowstorm riffs, its effect ranging from great (tracks two and six) to mind-blowing (the stirring Type O Negative-via-Lush coda); gambits with structure pay off hugely, like Mutt Lange mistakenly took his post at Cult Of Fire’s studio and was excused only after converting मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान‘s final third into something every bit as gratifying and pat as Def Leppard’s best. Weird. Crank it up at Invisible Oranges or below!

Cult Of Fire’s मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान is out tomorrow on Iron Bonehead. Get it here and here

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