Cirith Ungol - Forever Black
Metal Blade
Heavy Metal
9 songs (39' 5")
Release year: 2020
Metal Blade
Reviewed by Andy
Major event

Consistently underrated from their formation way back in 1972 till the day they finally threw in the towel in the early 90s, Cirith Ungol was rescued by the cult-friendly Internet, where their age and obscurity gave them an authenticity that better-promoted bands couldn't match. In this case, the hype was fully justified: The heavier and more unapproachable Cirith Ungol albums got, the better they were. Now reunited, the band's released its first LP in almost 30 years, Forever Black, and if this doesn't make your fist pump and your head bang, nothing will.

The album kicks off with Legions Arise, an autobiographical ode to the fans who have waited for this resurrection for decades. A resurrection indeed: Tim Baker's throat-shredding shriek hasn't aged a day, and the two guitarists' riffing and overdriven lead noodling hasn't changed either, at least not since their early years. Nor is this an exception, to thrill the fans only to be followed by filler. The next few tracks, if not as filled with triumphant fury as their predecessor, are as snappy as they are heavy, moving with surprisingly light feet for the immense size of their riffs, heavy on the clunking bass.

In true late-70s fashion, this is a band that has always been willing to do slow songs that are overlaid with lots of lead work, and this time we have Stormbringer, a subject that any Michael Moorcock fan should recognize; interestingly, Baker does clean vocals for the first part of the song, a rather strange sound for those who only know his harsh vocals; he switches back to his trademark scream shortly thereafter. Before Tomorrow and the title track are also played at a doom-filled pace, to the sound of some of the best soloing on the album, with the latter lurching into a faster tempo toward the end to go out with a bang.

A reunion LP for Cirith Ungol needed to be something special after all the hopes fans held for so long, and Forever Black more than justifies it. A time capsule would have been reasonably satisfying, but this is more like the Tyrannosaurus Rex of Jurassic Park: Alive, roaring, and devouring the unwary after long years of extinction. Once again, the Kings of the Dead hold sway over their subjects.

Bandcamp: https://cirithungol.bandcamp.com/.

Killing Songs :
Legions Arise, Stormbringer, Forever Black
Andy quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Cirith Ungol that we have reviewed:
Cirith Ungol - Paradise Lost reviewed by Thomas and quoted 82 / 100
Cirith Ungol - One Foot In Hell reviewed by Thomas and quoted 90 / 100
Cirith Ungol - Frost and Fire reviewed by Thomas and quoted 91 / 100
Cirith Ungol - King of the Dead reviewed by Dee and quoted 92 / 100
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