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CIRITH UNGOL Dark Parade

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Friday, October 27, 2023 @ 8:07 AM


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CIRITH UNGOL
Dark Parade

Metal Blade Records




It's been a whirlwind of activity on the CIRITH UNGOL front as of late. A mere few days ago, on October 20th, the band played a record release show for their new opus, Dark Parade. Held at The Roxy in Los Angeles, it was a special night indeed. Not only a record release show, but a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the famed club on The Sunset Strip, AND the first L.A. appearance for CIRITH UNGOL in 35 years! And if that wasn't enough, the show was filmed and recorded for a future Live release.

While it seems the band are picking up steam, they also released somber news for The Legions, the nickname given to the band's hordes of followers. 2024 will see their official retirement from Live performances. While disappointing, time catches up with all, and with plenty of notice, if you've never caught the band Live since their return after their initial 25 year hiatus, or you want to get one last sonic face-full of their Lovecraftian inspired Metal then start making your plans! Official announcements of all final dates will be announced at a later date. Also news that guitarist Jim Barraza was stepping away from Live performances for health reasons. With the band announcing their Live retirement hopefully Jim will be able to share in some of the last shows of this iconic band.

My initial introduction to the band was way back in 1982 (although they had formed as early as 1971, and had released their first demo in 1978). It was a compilation album called Metal Massacre, and along with CIRITH UNGOL, also gave Metalheads here in the USofA their first taste of other mostly California bands such as RATT, BITCH, Ron Keel's STEELER (whose monumental first album would introduce the world to the ego that is Yngwie J. Malmsteen), MALICE and some nowhere band called METALLICA (This recording featuring Dave Mustaine on guitar and Ron McGovney on bass). With the NWoBHM in full effect, the list of American bands that could hang with what was coming from The Old World was minimal at best, mostly 70's bands that had upped their game to join the new Heavy Revolution. So the M.M. comp was a revelation indeed, with METALLICA & CIRITH UNGOL being the bands who really caught my ear. The CIRITH track, "Death Of The Sun", was one of the heaviest things that I'd ever heard up to then, and still holds a special place in my heart today. After this introduction, I was on the hunt for anything CIRITH UNGOL. And I quickly came upon their first album, Frost And Fire. If you've ever read any of my other reviews (if so, thank you!) then you've read about how things were in the Stone Ages before computers, smart phones, blah blah fkn blah. The M.M comp actually came out AFTER the release of F & F, but of course I had no way of knowing then, and actually worked out perfectly as the taster whetted my appetite for what was to come from this Ventura, California based band. They released 4 albums in a decade (Frost And Fire in 1981, King Of The Dead in 1984, One Foot In Hell in 1986, & Paradise Lost in 1991). And with the musical landscape changing so dramatically around them the band called it a day till the release of the "Witch's Game" single in 2018. Which brings us to CIRITH UNGOL 2023 and Dark Parade.

If you've never heard CIRITH, I can't really describe their sound or compare them to any other band, past or present. They are uniquely their own band, with their own sound. They write original, doom-tinged music with the shrieks of singer Tim Baker sounding like a sonic bludgeoning. And a band whose sound hasn't altered to changing fads or time for that matter. Nor their epic album covers. Since Frost And Fire, they've used nothing but the artwork of Michael Whelan, and his iconic character Elric of Melnibone from Michael Moorcock's books. That fantasy angle even extends to the band name itself, which is taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings. It means "Pass Of The Spider". It was a high pass in the land of Mordor where the monster known as Shelob lurked. But what of the music you ask? It's exactly what you expect and demand from CIRITH UNGOL. 8 songs in 45 minutes. From the opener "Velocity (S.E.P.)", with its punishing riff it's classic CIRITH. And sonically it sounds fantastic. All instruments are clear, and HEAVY. Guitarists Greg Lindstrom & Jim Barraza trade off licks that are pure ear candy. "Relentless" is just that. The rhythm section of NIGHT DEMON bassist Jarvis Leatherby and drummer Robert Garven keep the dark machine trudging through the forest of happiness mangling all in their path. "Sailor On the Seas of Fate" starts off with a bit of acoustic guitar, but fear not, the UNGOL heaviness soon dispels any thought of some mellow balladness. Even a bit of uptempo banging in this epic yarn. "Sacrifice" begins with a little flamenco guitar before ripping off your face with the relentless heaviness. Side B is a 4 song story arc starting off with shattering glass. "Looking Glass", which is also a band lyric video. The story introduces you to the Dark Parade, which includes the face-smashing "Distant Shadows" and epic album closer "Down Below". Are your dreams fantasy? Reality? Nightmares? Visions of the coming storms? All will be revealed in the Dark Parade.

And yes Alice, there will be much Vinyl for the Dark Parade, with multiple color variations plus a Special Edition double-LP with the album demos!! Buy or Die Legions!!

4.8 Out Of 5 Skulls☠️☠️☠️☠️


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