“Forever Black”

By Dr. Abner Mality

The wait is over and the swords have left their scabbards. Armies of doom are on the march and they ride under the banner of CIRITH UNGOL! The cult American band, which got its start in the distant mists of 1970’s California, has endured much hardship and slumbered long in the limbo where under-appreciated bands dwell. Many such bands attempt a return from the abyss, and many fail.

CIRITH UNGOL have not failed. They’ve returned with the sound and purity of classic albums like “One Foot In Hell” and “King of the Dead”. “Forever Black” is a logical successor to these prior discs and falls right in line with them. The key to this project is simple: they didn’t overthink things, they just wrote songs in the same mode as they did 20 years ago and capture the same sound. CIRITH UNGOL was always a mix of the gloom of SABBATH, the forward drive of PRIEST, the epic thrust of MANOWAR. It’s all here and so are the remarkable vocals of Tim Baker. This guy is a metal treasure! His incredible gravelly shriek is absolutely intact on “Forever Black” and anchors these songs in place. He hasn’t lost a thing from the glory days!

As far as the songs themselves go, no attempt has been made to “update” the band’s sound. A very wise decision. “Legions Arise” is a great galloping tribute to the fans who never gave up on the band. “The Fire Divine” is possibly my favorite song, which has a strong resemblance to the classic track “Nadsokor” from “One Foot In Hell”. “Stormbringer” is a moody semi-ballad where Baker shows a different side to his singing. The guitar soloing throughout the album is just pure metal…they don’t try to “shred” in the usual sense, they do what the song needs. “Nightmare” has a very strong SABBATH/doom feel while the title track wraps things up with another anthem. The guys don’t go overboard and try to create anything massive. Songs are a sensible length.

It’s a pretty strong return for CIRITH UNGOL. These guys sound just like they did in the 80’s.