CIRITH UNGOL - Forever Black
April 5, 2020, 2 months ago
Been almost three decades since the last studio effort (Paradise Lost), but the legendary Ventura, California outfit has spent the last five years making up for lost time, gracing some of the biggest festival stages around the globe. In the 8’0s, they were an acquired taste, not fitting any of the popular styles of the time (yet somehow a combination of all, in total). As always, pinpointed by the quixotic vocals of Tim Baker (be it near thrash intensity, or stomping doom) this album picks up, right where that vaunted decade ended. Keeping it old school, the disc is just a few clicks beyond 39 minutes, in length. Following a short intro ("The Call"), there are eight proper tracks, beginning with the powerful speedster "Legions Arise". Easily the fastest track in their catalog, for those in the know, think a nitro fueled "Join The Legion".
More than a hint of old tunes in "The Frost Monstreme", which is kind of like any far reaching Cirith Ungol album, in a single composition. Although it begins with Spinal Tap ‘70s proto-metal jam, Baker's voice and wandering guitars craft a new classic in "The Fire Divine". Sounds like it could have been a quirky Frost & Fire outtake. And no higher praise can be forthcoming! A jangly, acoustic intro kicks off "Stormbringer", a rumbling mid-paced number (almost completely constructed of the titular lyric) that makes liberal use of Robert Garven's (one of three original members) cannonading drums. Comparison to past efforts? Think "Doomed Planet". Like the best Ungol creations, there's a groove amongst the tortured wah wah guitar, on "Fractus Promissum", another album standout. It gets aggro, come its termination. Can't miss the distant cowbell either! This one's a close second to aforementioned "The Fire Divine", in terms of highlights. "Before Tomorrow" is another all-encompassing retrospective. The concluding title cut has a dose of similarly heavy "Chaos Rising" or "King Of The Dead" to it (plus sped up coda, sealed with the smash of a gong!).
Attention completists, "Brutish Manchild" a flexi-single, issued as part of Decibel magazine series, is not part of this running order.
Kings of the Dead, alive again. Rejoice!