Cult of Fire - Nirvana
Beyond Eyes
Black Metal
5 songs (33:17)
Release year: 2020
Cult of Fire, Beyond Eyes
Reviewed by Goat

The second of two albums released simultaneously by Czech spiritualists Cult of Fire, Nirvana deals with the Tantric Buddhist doctrines of seeking enlightenment and esoteric fulfilment. Tantra is most famous in the West for its association with sexual yoga, yet Nirvana here is (according to the band) about the annulment of the five particular 'afflicted emotions', or 'sins' as befits the Western mind (namely desire, anger, delusion or ignorance, pride and jealousy) in a confrontation that will turn them to wisdoms, imitating the enlightened minds of the five Buddhas. It's at once a more complex and simpler path than Moksha references (and, of course, involves less ritualistic cannibalism!) and doing the necessary research into these Eastern mysticisms shows the fascinating concepts behind the band's dual album release here, examining each path leading to the same destination and converting them for the listener in a language that we will understand - Cult of Fire acting as our black metal spiritual advisors!

At least on a superficial level, Nirvana seems a more attractive musical interpretation. Divided into five parts, each entitled Buddha, the first begins with clean guitar strums and wailing vocals, soon turning into the riff-oriented black metal familiar from Moksha. Yet there seems to be more depth and layers here, droning horns and chanted vocals atop the black metal battery forming a hypnotic grip that makes the nine-minute running time simply fly by. The more aggressive Buddha pt 2 seems initially identical to material from its sister album stripped of sitar and percussion, but a closer listen reveals that those subtle symphonic elements are more pronounced here as the track progresses, leading onto the impressive Buddha pt 3, the best song on either album. Here, the writing all comes together, the Eastern percussion joining with melodic guitar riffs and gentle piano before a slower, more atmospheric black metal begins a triumphant march, launching into savagery without removing the strange beauty it has already achieved.

After that, the shimmering rush of Buddha pt 4 and its 90s-esque symphonic keyboard crashes are nearly as enjoyable, particularly in its latter half where it turns into the sort of pastoral black metal done so well by the Ukrainians; simply and wholeheartedly beautiful without oddness or unease poisoning its roots. There's a feeling of positivity and self-advancement here that is missing from the more malign Moksha, a sense of spiritual fulfilment that comes across on Buddha pt 5 with distinctly organic percussion and shimmering, almost twinkly melodies that are effective even with the growled vocals; with guitars and drums at their finest. It doesn't stray too far from the black metal standard set by this still very heavy album but does the most to feel like black metal in search of transcendence, perhaps like an alt-universe mixture of Nokturnal Mortum and Alcest!

Nirvana is not perfect yet comes across as the superior of the two albums, containing a more inviting and fulfilling black metal that speaks to the heart a little more. As ever, these things are wrapped up in the dull disclaimer of objectivity, of music speaking to different ears in different voices, and this applies to Cult of Fire even moreso thanks to the very nature of what they are attempting here. And the natural harshness of the medium will restrict this to an even smaller audience who are familiar with dissecting the blunt tools that black metal wields, and so no doubt the band's message will exist only as a flickering flame. Still, having gone back and forth repeatedly between the two albums, this is a remarkable experiment for Cult of Fire to undergo, and there remains much to fathom from this pair on future listens. It's hard to define this dual invitation to spiritual enlightenment in such terms as numbers, of course, but the scores given (as ever) seemed fair at the time of writing, and no doubt those who will appreciate the added dimension given to this music will see beyond numerical scores regardless. Whether you have achieved Moksha, Nirvana, both or neither, Cult of Fire here prove themselves yet again to be a truly fascinating project.

Killing Songs :
Buddha pt 1, Buddha pt 3, Buddha pt 4
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Cult of Fire that we have reviewed:
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 - मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Cult of Fire - Triumvirát reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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