The history of heavy metal began in the 70’s by the pioneered bands such as Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Judas Priest and etc…. One of the oldest bands that defined the style of epic heavy metal is the U.S. outfit Cirith Ungol, formed in 1972 by the guitarist Greg Lindstrom, drummer Robert Graven, and vocalist Tim Baker. In late 1978 they began to develop a unique sound from epic tales of sorcery and this has led the group to explore new territories.
Throughout their career, Cirith Ungol released four albums and musically their style is a crossover between heavy, power and doom metal. In 1981 Cirith Ungol debuted their first full-length album ‘Frost and Fire‘, which is one of the classic albums in the history of epic heavy metal. While there were a number of epic heavy metal bands such as Warlord, Manilla Road and Manowar that also chose the same direction, Cirith Ungol was cognizant of how to set powerful music that simulated mythology and heroic battles.
Their second album ‘King of the Dead‘ was released in 1984 and around that time vocalist Tim Baker presented a unique vocal performance. Cirith Ungol somehow distinguished themselves from the flocks and even after 48 years of playing pure heavy metal, they never seem to grow weary of their craft. And with their fifth album ‘Forever Black‘, they recreate strong tunes of riff galore. The lineup is comprised of Tim Baker (vocals), Greg Lindstrom (guitars), Robert Garven (drums), Jim Barraza (guitars) and Jarvis Leatherby (bass).
‘Forever Black’ delivers a heavy slab of classic 70’s raw heavy metal and offers many spectacular songs such as ‘Legions Arise‘ which begins with soaring twin guitars. But more importantly, Cirith Ungol establishes its classical style, giving dynamic power to the music. The rhythm guitar builds up the tempo along with Tim Baker‘s shrilling vocals that will instantly make you head-bang.
The guitars on ‘The Frost Monstreme‘ provides that old-aged atmosphere of blues and rock ‘n’ roll. While the song structure encapsulates all that the band has offered in the past, ‘Forever Black‘ represents the epitome of their long experience. The traditional composition of the songs brought by the organic energy, these vintage trademarks of the band’s enthusiasm echoes with powerful vibrations. ‘The Fire Divine‘ begins with massive guitar riffs and builds on a catchy chorus with a plethora of memorable lead guitars and hymns. At many moments the band channels the raw classic sensation of the 70’s heavy metal such as Judas Priest. Cirith Ungol manages to capture the listener throughout the album.
‘Stormbringer‘ is typically structured on the old classics of the 80’s, ‘Forever Black‘ resurrects those traditional strong riff-based nostalgic ballads. Cirith Ungol managed to deliver dauntless anthems with an ability to bring aggression on many songs. The band has always had its own unprecedented nature of playing raw and traditional heavy metal. The guitars are achieved with such refinement and the bursting power of the riffs on ‘Fractus Promissum‘ shows an established tradition.
Tim Baker’s raucous vocals capture the metallic feel of epic heavy metal, Greg Lindstrom and Jim Barraza present remarkable flair. Striking with throbbing rhythm guitar, the solos are uplifting and explode loudly. The album also provides some mystical tunes, such as ‘Nightmare‘ which instantly strikes and creates a mystical atmosphere. The band has a firm grip on melodies and powerful riffs. Robert Garven‘s drum performance makes the songs sound heavy and powerful as the old days of heavy metal, as for the bass guitar Jarvis Leatherby works perfectly with the other instruments. There is a clear emphasis on mid-tempo and this gives prominence to the lead guitars and the vocals. Besides these elements, there are many guitar melodies encapsulated within tracks such as ‘Before Tomorrow‘.
As always the band’s professionalism is measured by their chemistry and spectacular performance. Their latest craft is built in sensational riffs and jaw-dropping guitar solos. And once again the cover art of the album is created by the American artist Michael Whelan. ‘Forever Black’ is full of epic riffs, simply a bone-crushing old school heavy metal album. Cirith Ungol still remains as one of the main pillars of heavy metal, highly recommended for fans of Dio, Manowar and Judas Priest.
Release Date: April 24th, 2020
Label: Metal Blade Records
- The Call
- Legions Arise
- The Frost Monstreme
- The Fire Divine
- Fractus Promissum
- Before Tomorrow
- Forever Black