It has been a few years since both their last LP Forever Black (2020) and an EP of old goodies Half Past Human (2021), but Cirith Ungol are back to unfurl the latest and likely last piece to their long-in-the-tooth run with their new full length, Dark Parade.
The band has been back together since 2015 due in large part to Night Demon vocalist and current Cirith Ungol bassist/manager Jarvis Leatherby, who spearheaded a reunion and they haven’t looked back since. Their sixth album comes on the heels of an announcement that the band will cease playing live in 2024, with dates planned throughout the year. With all of this going on, let’s see what the band has been up to with Dark Parade.
The opening 1-2 punch of “Velocity (S.E.P.)” and “Relentless” showcase the proper two modes of the band with the former being a speedy track akin to “Blood And Iron,” their opener from One Foot In Hell and the latter a slow mover with plenty of doom-infused action taking place. Cirith Ungol mix this with the unique vocals of Tim Baker who is best described as a character lead much in the same way that King Diamond is. Instead of being directly shrill he opts for shouts and growls making it sound like he is a mad wizard.
“Sailor on the Seas of Fate” is the band’s longest track since King Of The Dead’s “Finger of Scorn” and is a slow-moving epic, never overstaying its welcome and picking up steam as the song progresses. With the sound of shattering glass “Looking Glass” enters chugging along to some excellent riffs provided by Jimmy Barraza, who can be melodic, and doom oriented with a moments’ notice.
The title track is a straightforward one from the band with a meaty six minute run time to allow for you to sink your teeth into what they provide. The slow burn has long been Cirith Ungol’s trademark, whether it be the songs themselves or even understanding the intricacies of the band’s singular sound.
Cirith Ungol are finally seeing the praise that has been long overdue and for them to grace us with two final albums after a long layoff before bowing out is the ultimate sign of respect to devotees. Dark Parade is a strong coda for a band whose humble beginnings take them back to the 1970s.
Even if their fanfare isn’t that of those longstanding institutions in heavy metal history, their mark too will indelibly be left for the metal masses to experience for themselves. For now, the Dark Parade marches on.
(released October 20, 2023 on Metal Blade Records)