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CIRITH UNGOL- King of the Dead LP (Enigma Records, USA, 1984)

I must admit, I feel a bit dumb ripping and posting this, because I’m sure it’s been widely spread, but when I checked Amazon, I saw that it was not physically available anymore. And since two of the great blogs out there recently had their own little share of CIRITH UNGOL’s timeless efforts, I just had to follow up with this one. And guys – it’s on Enigma Records, MODERN WARFARE and such.

CIRITH UNGOL were first exposed on the legendary METAL MASSACRE comp. I will never forget how completely floored I was when I heard “Dead of the Sun” on MM. It was and still is a miracle how a band was able to combine both, aggression and fantasy-metal in such a perfect manner. Of course it’s the screaming tornado vocals of singer Tim Baker that made the difference. This man really had a class of his own.
Aesop from Cosmic Hearse hit the nail right on its head: “The term “cult band” here means that nobody gave a fuck when they were around, people even hated them, but now everyone claims to have been on board since the beginning.” That’s exactly how I remember it. A lot of people from the scenes I knew downright hated CIRITH UNGOL and many of them were NWOBHM fans. It wasn’t so much “Frost & Fire” really, because at least in good ol’Europe this album had been tough to find – it was mainly “King of the Dead”. I remember one particular guy who said it’s a crying shame a band capable of writing such songs would destroy them with a singer like Tim Baker. Man, I never got it. He IS perfect.
“King of the Dead” is a perfect album, absolutely flawless. The quality of the compositions is truely in its own league. Each and every song has that hard to describe aura of hanging in thin air, somewhere between classic rock, avantgarde and traditional Metal. It felt so perfect as a teenager to just spend whole weekends in bed, playing LPS like this up and down and reading all kind of fantasy books (like the incredible “Thomas Covenant” saga or, of course, Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” or the conan books etc. – I’m pretty sure John Scharpen can relate to this 😉 ).
The guitar / bass sound on “King of the Dead” has got to be heard to be believed; I don’t know how they managed to make the guitar sound like this, I’ve never heard anything like this – it sounds like the guitar had been recorded in a cement tube. The track on the Metal Massacre comp sounds even more so. And the tone of the lead guitar in the solo parts; this is just plain madness. I could suck up, shoot up, eat up this tone, I would never get tired of it, I would want to have this tone tranformed into a body, flesh and bones, and make love to it. To me, this unique sound experience was always a part of the mystery that lies around CIRITH UNGOL. And then the guitar solos: I know, there are still some dumbos out there who think guitar solos “suck maaaan”, but have they ever listened to what bands like CIRITH UNGOL are capable of pulling off with their instruments? This is not some pretentious pose, it’s just pure art and beauty. If this doesn’t touch you deep within then I can only feel sorry for you.

Here’s a photo of my house door. Spot the CU sticker?

What must be added is that the band members were extremely friendly folks. After “King of the Dead” was released in late 1983, I sent them my usual fan mail (and you can tell by my writing that I’ve never really grown out of the fan-thing, haha) – CIRITH UNGOL responded by sending me a massive package with T-Shirt and loads of stickers, buttons and posters. So I made my own little “King of the Dead” bills out of the stuff and plastered them everywhere, with that “Slushy Brain Production” logo of mine added proudly (well, I was young).
As I said before, not too many people liked CIRITH UNGOL in the first place, one notable exception being the folks in Hellhammer who were just about to create CELTIC FROST in the wake ofthe receiption of “King of the Dead”. Now guess where the “Frost” in the band name comes from? Exactly – the “Frost & Fire” album by CIRITH UNGOL.

This goes out to Dave who had the follow up to this, the often overlooked “One Foot in Hell” LP – and to all the headbangers and rivetheads out there.

Vinyl rip (with really rich and full sound, compared to the mp3 files I just downloaded to compare) of “King of the Dead” as one large .zip file (105 megatons). Greetings to CIRITH UNGOL.


27 Comments

  1. Great record buddy. One of my Favorites ever. I recall listening to this as a youngster. It Makes me wanna spark a doobie.
    I bought this bands records on a whim, as the cover art was always so cool, and metal looking. Most my friends hated it because of the vocals. Fuck friends..

    Nate

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 06:46 | Permalink
  2. I knew you’d like this, Nate. You’re a man of taste 🙂

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 06:50 | Permalink
  3. -‘-Spiderman-‘-

    Great great lp! I totally love the way the yellow bear makes the cover look. Creepy and funny at the same time. Art man art.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 06:58 | Permalink
  4. I’m guilty as charged Erich. I ignored this band for 20+ years but I have recently seen the light. Thanks for this excellent vinyl rip…I am going to play this one out today.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 11:06 | Permalink
  5. The great Suck City fanzine, which very alone worshiped Cirith up and down, asked Tim Baker what the hell the band was aiming for. He said something like they wanted to create the perfect sound for that moment when you raise your head after a huge bong hit. FAIT ACCOMPLI!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 12:04 | Permalink
  6. I-Love-Cirith-Ungol!! This is so great and extreme. Probably top three of all your uploads along with Mediveal and the Exodus demo.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 12:13 | Permalink
  7. Now that sounds VERY prosaic, Ian 🙂

    PS: Said “SUck City” piece can be found here: http://rudo888.blogspot.com/search/label/Cirith%20Ungol Great reading. Excellent fanzine!!

    @ Pär: I knew you’d love Ciirith Ungol 🙂 Have you checked out Slough Feg? Man, that stuff kills me. So great!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 12:13 | Permalink
  8. howardx

    theres a “live in reseda” bootleg out there, pretty dismal sound though.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 13:12 | Permalink
  9. e normous

    “Master of the Pit”, the part where it picks up and moves into the solo – one of the great moments in all of music.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 13:14 | Permalink
  10. Steve

    Suck City Ruled! I still have the very issue with Cirith Ungol.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 14:30 | Permalink
  11. SwePete

    Hits from the bong, maan! That was not a positive remark. Tim Baker is not the problem. The rest of the band is….. IKEA-Metal Fuck. Weak as American beer.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 15:45 | Permalink
  12. I can definitely relate, Erich! I too was floored the first time I heard “Death of the Sun” on Metal Massacre, and I can remember just sitting around and listening to their records. I miss having the time to just sit and listen to records the whole way through, without doing anything else at the same time.

    I never did get to see them live though. Pity.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 16:55 | Permalink
  13. mrpoopy

    I think this band hit the bullseye with “One Foot in Hell”, the two before it being formitive efforts, although each has some good songs. Never heard the last one but how bad can it be? And was there ever live footage of these guys? At any rate, it is now time for you or SOMEONE to post “Hallows Victim” by Saint Vitus. Haven’t heard that one in over 15 years and miss it–but not $70 worth of missing.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 18:01 | Permalink
  14. I have a shit Job, where I drive around in a van all day, stuck in NYC traffic. Its perfect for listening to records all day(mp3s these days). Makes me so happy to relisten to stuff that really made me feel something as a kid.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 18:37 | Permalink
  15. Teddy

    I’M BAAAAAAACK!!! :=).

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 18:58 | Permalink
  16. Sean

    I remember the absolute hatred for this band and a few others back in the day as well…as told to me by others.

    SO! I’m going to download this NOW and hope to shed NO tears for those people who steered me wrong!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 19-Nov-08 at 19:48 | Permalink
  17. This is definately one of the best heavy metal records. Back in high school, I bought Frost and Fire for the cover and I ended up drawing praying sceletons on my desk. And Tim Baker was KING. It seemed to me like he was screaming ALL the time. I never really understood why people hate his voice. Never did, never will.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 20-Nov-08 at 12:18 | Permalink
  18. howardx

    the bassist from CU is in a new band called “falcon” got a couple records out. not bad.

    http://www.falconband.net/falconmain.htm

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-Nov-08 at 09:11 | Permalink
  19. James

    Excellent record!! I loved these guys since I first heard them on Metal Massacre 1. Thanks for posting!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-Nov-08 at 20:11 | Permalink
  20. Jay Thurston

    These guys were not bad at all. I went to their myspace page and actually liked a couple of their tunes. Thanks

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-Nov-08 at 20:43 | Permalink
  21. THIS is the shit. I was a fan back in the day fer real and it was also due to that first Metal Massacre LP. What a great album. Starts off with the Mustaine/Metallica version of Hit The Lights and never lets go. Alright maybe the Black and Blue track aint that hot.

    I remember trying to show people the genius of that MM track and being universally reviled. Punks couldn’t stand the vocals. Metalheads hated the lack of guitar solos and EVERYONE hated the Frank Frazetta style graphics. Taken as a whole though…its pure GENIUS.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 22-Nov-08 at 07:46 | Permalink
  22. Lord Weird Slough Feg also have some guys in Hammers of Misfortune, who at times, can sound like Slough Feg, though they mix things up with other styles as well.

    I need to pay more attention to their tour dates, as when they came through Denver in the summer, I was already on my way to some other gig when I saw their name on the banner.

    Seen ’em before though, before they started to pull good size crowds. One of the only contemporary bands I care to see, aside from Human Eye!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 22-Nov-08 at 17:37 | Permalink
  23. marco

    I own the original cd of this and just compared it with yourvinyl rips. It sounds crazy but apart from the occassional vinyl noise your mp3 files indeed have a richer sound. How do you do that?
    Great blog, in fact the best I ever seen.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 23-Nov-08 at 04:44 | Permalink
  24. Guitarhero4

    I loved this band back in the 80’s. Everybody else hated them. I had the stickers plastered on my skateboards! I’m 42 yrs old now and King Of The Dead and One Foot In Hell STILL rock! Original. Plain & Simple! Listen to War Eternal or One Foot In Hell and tell me this stuff doesn’t make your blood churn, man! I kinda wish these guys were still around. Nothing else sounds like CU. Period.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 12-Dec-08 at 10:39 | Permalink
  25. Leves

    I could not agree more with you man.The band’s guitarist was a GENIUS,simply listening to black Machine blows my mind away.I accidentaly discovered the band back in 2002 (blessed Audiogalaxy) and since then I surpise people that never heard of the band by making them listen to Fallen Idols!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-Feb-09 at 15:38 | Permalink
  26. Chris

    Dead Link (Arghhh)

    [Reply]

    Posted on 30-Aug-10 at 14:16 | Permalink
  27. harrison

    could we PLEASE get a re-up of this erich?

    [Reply]

    Posted on 01-Jun-13 at 15:43 | Permalink

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