Sunday, 23 July 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Cirith Ungol - "King of the Dead" (Ultimate Edition)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length (Reissue)
Date Released: 28/4/2017
Label: Metal Blade Records



It's a very engaging listen, 33 years on and is an absolute must have for any fan of doom- or anyone looking at how the genre started to really form into something (along with the work of Vitus, Trouble et al).  An essential album and a worthy reissue. Enrich your record collection and your life by buying it!



“King of the Dead”(Ultimate Edition) CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Atom Smasher
2. Black Machine
3. Master of the Pit
4. King of the Dead
5. Death of the Sun
6. Finger of Scorn
7. Toccata in Dm
8. Cirith Ungol
9. Last Laugh (Live)
10. Death of the Sun (Alternate Mix)
11. Master of the Pit (Live)
12. King of the Dead (Live)
13. Cirith Ungol (Live)


The Review

Cirith Ungol occupy a strange place in the book of heavy metal; a true cult band that mixed sword and sorcery themes with classic rock, traditional metal and true doom, all punctuated by Tim Baker's unique (the best word for it) voice. “Frost and Fire” was a good debut- with one foot in the 70s. “King of the Dead”, meanwhile, is regarded by many as their best album, being as it was self produced which gave the band a certain amount of freedom to do what they wanted. The band now occupy a similar space to Manilla Road- cult, underground, quirky and worshipped by their true disciples.

This ultimate edition of the revered album gives a new remastered sheen to the main album and adds on some live tracks and alternate mixes. The album itself sounds... pretty great, actually! This is a well produced record with an unusual sound. The lead work reminds me of Iommi (in tone as well as content), the bass is prominent (as per the debut) and the drums still pack a forceful percussive sound.

Let's be honest, the album is a classic; it's weighty, but never over the top in terms of heaviosity . The songs are there- “Atom Smasher” and “Black Machine” are a fearsome opening twosome. “Master of The Pit” is a doom classic, straying into epic territory- as does the title track. There is some quicker stuff on here (“Death of the Sun”), more melancholy fare (“Finger of Scorn”), an instrumental (“Toccata in Dm”) and the band's theme song. It's a very engaging listen, 33 years on and is an absolute must have for any fan of doom- or anyone looking at how the genre started to really form into something (along with the work of Vitus, Trouble et al).

The ultimate edition comes with the aforementioned bonus tracks- live versions (some very recent, some contemporaneous), alternate mixes and what have you- but as usual, all you really need is the original album- particularly in this superior audio form. The remaster is great and made my old CD sound very wooly indeed. An essential album and a worthy reissue. Enrich your record collection and your life by buying it!



“King of the Dead”(Ultimate Edition) is available here


Band info: bandcamp || facebook

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