Cirith Ungol
Forever Black


3.7
great

Review

by manosg STAFF
April 26th, 2020 | 40 replies


Release Date: 04/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The masters of the pit are back from the dead

I’ve noticed that most reviews or discussions regarding Cirith Ungol point out how underrated this band is and that it should have been way more popular. As unpopular this opinion might be among fans of the Ventura outfit, I’m not entirely sure that it should or could have been more popular. After all, we are talking about one of the most unique and quirky acts of its time that brought together proto-doom, classic heavy metal, early-Rush prog, and ‘70s hard rock. Add to these, Tim Baker’s idiosyncratic vocal approach with his signature banshee wails and howls, and you can realize why these guys never had legions of fans following them. Of course, if you’re a fan of epic metal, chances are that you consider King of the Dead a classic, and you don’t give a *** about whether these guys make it big time, simply because Cirith Ungol with or without legions of fans is one of the best epic metal band that has graced the face of the earth.

But the question still remains: will this be the album that makes more people take notice of Cirith Ungol?

To answer the above question, one must take into consideration a few variables. First of all, one of Cirith Ungol’s greatest virtues is their ability to transport the listener to a fictional setting, an epic multiverse, where swords and sorcery reign supreme. From the cover art with Elric of Melniboné to songs like the quasi-prog “The Frost Monstreme” and “Stormbringer” which features some clean vocals, Forever Black checks that box. Of course, it’s not only a matter of stylistics but also songwriting. The aforementioned tracks are among the highlights on here along with “Forever Black” because of their adventurous nature. The latter, for example, is mostly restrained, but picks up towards the end and has a genuine feeling of chaos and emergency. These songs also feature some catchy solos and tasty leads with a strong ‘70s hard rock flavor, which is something dearly missed in modern traditional metal, as unnatural as this term sounds. The ‘70s influence is also apparent on “Fractus Promissum” as we can listen to some wah-wah guitar, which is not something usual in epic metal. There are also some upbeat tracks, like “Legions Arise” that brings to mind the fast part of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil” and “The Fire Divine” which sports one of the most memorable choruses of the entire album.

Now, despite all the positives, I can’t help but feel that these veterans lost a huge opportunity here. It might not bode well with longtime fans, but one of the things that made I’m Alive such an enjoyable release, besides the dreamy setlist and the blistering performance, was the modern production value. I’m not referring to a super clean, crystal clear, loudness war-type production but something that would give some more punch and oomph to the already solid songs on here. That, combined with a couple more experimental tracks like those on King of the Dead would send this LP right to the top of the list with the best traditional metal releases of the year.

So to answer the rhetorical question at the beginning of this review, this might as well be the album that makes more people notice the underground act. However, that’s not because it’s the best LP in the band’s discography, nor is it different than what we’ve come to expect by these guys. Forever Black, even though it consists entirely of new material and comes 29 years after Paradise Lost, is 100% Cirith Ungol. Nevertheless, what seems to have changed this time around is that there is a whole new generation of fans, especially in Europe, into traditional metal ready to embrace the masters of the pit.




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user ratings (50)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
PsychicChris (4.5)
Sweet epic metal vindication...


Comments:Add a Comment 
manosg
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


11941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Hopefully this is just the first chapter of Cirith Ungol's comeback.

Digging: Gullinbursti - Mythical Metallurgy

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
April 26th 2020


13951 Comments


Great review manosg.
I completely agree with your first paragraph, this band is not destined for success, but for a cult status. I'll dive into the album asap.


Digging: Sorcerer - Lamenting of the Innocent

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


8757 Comments


My only serious complaint about the album are the drums, in terms of sound and mix (more), and (lack of) interesting patterns (less, much less). A 3.5- for me.

Otherwise, it's good that these guys are alive and kicking.

For the next album, hire Arthur Rizk for the production.

Digging: Muspellzheimr - Muspellzheimr

hansoloshotfirst
April 26th 2020


1431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

certainly one of the best comeback albums by a long-defunct heavy metal band.

Digging: Can - Tago Mago

manosg
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


11941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Definitely agree, han.



"I completely agree with your first paragraph, this band is not destined for success, but for a cult status. I'll dive into the album asap."

Hope you enjoy, man. Can't remember if you're a fan of King of the Dead.



"For the next album, hire Arthur Rizk for the production."

Great idea!

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


16390 Comments


Was hoping you were going to review this manosg, nice job. Been meaning to listen to this all weekend, hopefully I’ll get around to it tomorrow

Digging: Paradise Lost - Obsidian

manosg
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


11941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Appreciate it, Gonzo. Are you a fan of these guys?

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


16390 Comments


No I only heard of them recently, but the artwork sucked me right in. I’ve heard snippets of their stuff and it sounds really interesting. Is there a particular album that’s worth hearing first or is this a good place to start?

Pikazilla
April 26th 2020


11095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kings of the Dead is awesome, looking forward to jamming this one.

combustion07
April 26th 2020


6884 Comments


Saw these guys headline a fest a few years ago and they were still killer. Vocals were so on point I was shocked. Got to kick it with them in their hotel after and they're funny dudes. Excited to jam this album. King of the Dead is my favorite

Nagrarok
April 26th 2020


8624 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was not disappointed by this, but not exactly thrilled either. Expected just a little more. I especially agree with your remarks on the production (which just doesn't seem quite right) and lack of experimentation. And yes, this is definitely one of those bands made for cult status.

Pho3nix
April 26th 2020


834 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

One of the best band names ever, had no idea this was coming!



Should re-check 'King of the Dead' as well, thank you for the review

budgie
April 26th 2020


19520 Comments


the first 4 are all fantastic
but yeah king of the dead is the king for sure

Digging: Zelma Stone - Dreamland

Donchivo
April 26th 2020


1016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will receive my vinyl tomorrow. I was uber stoked when it was announced as witch's game was the best ever comeback song of a long defunct metal band and not a notch below king of the dead. But the pre released songs of this were way less stellar... Still sooo excited to hear this!

Digging: Malicorne - Quintessence

manosg
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2020


11941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

"Is there a particular album that’s worth hearing first or is this a good place to start?"

King of the Dead is definitely their best, so I'd say start with that one. I'm Alive is also a nice compilation of their best songs in a live setting, so that might be a good place as well.



"Got to kick it with them in their hotel after and they're funny dudes."

That's pretty cool. I've read a few interviews of them and they seem like funny dudes indeed.



"Should re-check 'King of the Dead' as well, thank you for the review"

Appreciate it, man.



"But the pre released songs of this were way less stellar"

Felt the same way as well tbh, but overall the album works better than the singles. Hope it does that for you too.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 26th 2020


12502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So glad to be reading a manosg review for this.

rockandmetaljunkie
April 27th 2020


8913 Comments


Artwork is one of the best i have seen in recent times. I will surely try this one out.

Jruined
April 27th 2020


1304 Comments


Michael Whelan's artwork for Moorcock's Elric Saga books are all of their cover art.

Digging: Ulcerate - Stare Into Death and Be Still

zaruyache
April 27th 2020


22460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

heavy metal lives

NoHellsNoHeavens
April 27th 2020


160 Comments


Jesus first album in 29 years.

Digging: Mountaineer - Bloodletting



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