|Cult heavy metal outfit CIRITH UNGOL will unleash their sixth full-length, Dark Parade, on October 20th via Metal Blade Records today unveiling the record’s cover art, track listing, and first single!
Few bands in the history of the heavy metal underground have a story as remarkable, improbable, or uplifting as that of CIRITH UNGOL. Formed in Ventura, California in the early 1970s, CIRITH UNGOL created a sound the world had never experienced before. Rather than passively channeling their influences, the band was driven to forge an altogether heavier, darker, more apocalyptic sound. It was obscure and arcane, mysterious and eccentric, epic and expansive, but most of all, unfailingly, bone-crushingly heavy, dark, and doom-filled.
Wasting no time to ride their molten wave they started with their 2020 studio comeback Forever Black, CIRITH UNGOL started writing songs for Dark Parade as soon as Forever Black was released. Then, like everyone else, CIRITH UNGOL were hamstrung by the global pandemic, struggling through illness, seclusion, grief, and depression in their quest to create dark, vibrant art. And like the greatest warriors, they persevered, working on one song at a time – distractions be damned. The first track composed was the crushing “Relentless,” which reinforced their confidence and clarity of vision. The rest of the album came naturally, fueled by personal misery and the tragedy of worldwide collapse.
“Band members lost close relatives and we struggled as best we could through the pandemic which ravaged the earth’s population and economies,” drummer Rob Garven notes. “As horrifying as it was, it was the perfect backdrop for our doom-laden message of a world on the edge of destruction.”
With all eight demos finished — which are included on the expanded edition of the album — CIRITH UNGOL started recording Dark Parade in October 2022. The end result is an unrelenting triumph of pessimism and pain; a charred vista rooted in the crunch-and-crash templates of classic doom metal and NWOBHM but delivered with contemporary production and perspective. The album is propulsive and insistent, reflecting the band’s love for metal, instinct to destroy, and disgust for mankind.
From the majestic eight-minute-long “Sailor On The Seas Of Fate,” which starts with a reflective arpeggio and builds into a pounding, near-tribal volley before segueing into a bleak, slow burn of retribution and agony, to the final three movements of the “Dark Parade” saga (comprised of “Dark Parade,” “Distant Shadows,” and “Down Below”), CIRITH UNGOL’s latest album offers a metallic soundtrack of societal decay and environmental collapse that foreshadows nothing less than total extinction.
The first single from Dark Parade is opening track “Velocity (S.E.P.),” a compact, mid-paced blast of crunching riffs and deft hooks that act as a microcosm for much of the doom-laden album. “While talking with [vocalist] Tim [Baker] and Rob about what kind of song was needed, a decision was made to stop doing the galloping chugs, as done many times on previous albums, and start doing down-picking chugs while keeping some sort of tie to the CIRITH UNGOL sound,” reveals guitarist Jimmy Barraza. “Straying toward a Sabbath or Priest vibe is not far off and happens subconsciously.”
The track is about promises made and debts paid. Faust and Robert Johnson both knew what to expect on their visit to the Crossroads – great rewards and great loss. A bit of suffering in Dante’s Inferno will always remind us that the earthly pleasures we seek always come at a price. Sell your soul, take the deal, suffer the consequences.
“It’s about what happens when we sell that which we hold dear,” Baker notes. “Our soul — if such a thing exists — our dignity, pride, and whatever else we have that will help seal the deal in an endless pursuit of money, power, glory and dominion over others.”