CD review CIRITH UNGOL ‘Forever Black’

A new Cirith Ungol record felt like an unfulfilled dream of many Epic Metal fans for many years, actually decades. The band from Ventura, California started their musical adventure back in the early ’70s, a time when Metal music was in a very early stage and Classic Rock gaining momentum. There were no rules neither there were blueprints for how Epic Metal and Heavy Metal should sound like. Driven by creativity and an own idea about how their music should sound, Cirith Ungol became the spearhead of whole new genre with a sound that is unique to date.

After having been put to rest in 1992 a return of the masters of Epic Metal wasn’t a realistic thing for many years. However, fans never forgot the band and there was a constant demand for a return of this genre defining powerhouse.

2015 was the turning point, a year when the band awoke with no less than Greg Lindstrom, Robert Graven, Tim Baker and Jim Barraza being again aboard. What was needed was a bassplayer and the band found with Night Demon’s Jarvis Leatherby a guy, not only hailing from Ventura too, but also being a powerful bassist that can provide a rock solid groove for Cirith Ungol.

A live album in 2019 concretized the plans by the quintet to strengthen their return, a career that’s now heading towards a next climax with ‘Forever Black’.

‘Forever Black’ is the fifth full-length album from Cirith Ungol and it’s the first studio release since 29 years. Eight songs and an intro is what the album offers, music that is timeless and great. As if there wouldn’t have been any time between ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Forever Black’, the band picks it up where they left off nearly three decades ago.

Cirith Ungol, that’s next to epic songs also very much the vocals by Tim Baker. His way of intonation, with high-pitch screams and raw vocals, is not only a trademark of Cirith Ungol, it’s also a decisive factor for loving the band, or not.

It was just Easter-time, but the real resurrection in 2020 happens on April 24th, the release date of ‘Forever Black’. Starting with an intro entitled ‘The Call’, the mystic and eccentric journey begins and leads to ‘Legions Arise’. A galloping rhythm and great riffing doesn’t leave any doubt of Cirith Ungol maybe not living up to expectations. These guys are as strong as we could imagine. The start could be much better and finds a continuation in the slowly crawling riff monster ‘The Frost Monstreme’. Doom-based Epic Metal per excellence.

Talking about sound, the album got a great one. The old spirit didn’t get lost over time. Although having been recorded in the here and now, ‘Forever Black’ still comes with this more oldschool-ish sound and it’s great that the guys didn’t lose it in three decades. Songs like the anthemic ‘Stormbringer’ for sure benefits of it and the same goes for the heavy pounding ‘Nightmare’.

Cirith Ungol’s return ends after glorious 40 minutes with the last tones of ‘Forever Black’, the title track. I was lucky that I could witness the Cirith Ungol’s live show at Rock Hard festival in 2018 and at the time I couldn’t imagine, holding a new record in hands. But sometimes dreams turn into reality. Fans of the band, and Epic Metal, in general will love this album and I can highly recommend it. The underground pioneers and inventors of Epic Metal are back, hopefully for many more years.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. The Call
  2. Legions Arise
  3. The Frost Monstreme
  4. The Fire Divine
  5. Stormbringer
  6. Fractus Promissum
  7. Nightmare
  8. Before Tomorrow
  9. Forever Black

Label: Metal Blade Records

Genre: Epic Metal

Release Date EU: April 24th, 2020

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