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Cirith Ungol – King Of The Dead (Ultimate Edition) – Album Review

When it comes to having music that suits your mood or activity, fans of heavy metal and its myriad of sub genres are beyond blessed!

Here’s our case in point:

  • Feeling a tad nihilistic and have the urge to try on your granny’s make up? Whack on some true kvlt Norwegian hyper-speed black metal bilge!
  • Feeling a little down in the dumps? Try a bit of goth or doom on for size (bear with us, we are going somewhere with this!)
  • Fancy some good ol’ fashioned pillaging or the invading of some quaint local villages? Well, some Viking, trad or power metal should be just the ticket!

All of this leads us on to 80’s American also rans Cirith Ungol and the reissue of their sophomore album King Of The Dead. Everything about them screamed fantasy/power metal – from the Tolkien inspired name to their worship of old Sword and Sorcery/Conan books – however their sound, particularly on King Of The Dead, had more than a smidgen of doom metal to it alongside some distinct 70’s prog elements. All in all, the perfect combination for a little pillaging….80’s style!

Nostalgia aside, King Of The Dead was originally released in 1984, there remains a number of issues with this album, one of which is a ‘biggy’ and it’s song quality! The likes of “Atom Smasher” – with it’s almost NWOBHM style riffing – and the doomy “Black Machine” and “Finger Of Scorn” are amongst the best tracks on offer but even then, they’re simply not that great, lacking in that special something to make them timeless.

The sound quality is another issue, despite being remastered the album has an uneven feel to it with the drums of Robert Garven and the vocals of Tim Baker – which at best sound like he’s just been punched in the nuts – so far forward in the mix that they pretty much drown out the guitars and bass.

Finally, what’s ‘ultimate’ about this edition we hear you cry?! Not much. Extras for this reissue are a number of live tracks which are purely for completists only. If you’re a fan of the band and this album, then the live tracks and additional footage may make you want to splash out for a new copy but apart from that, it’s hard to know just who this package is aimed at.

While the likes of Amon Amarth and Grand Magus get the blood pumping and make you want to go on an epic adventure or attack a nearby hamlet, Cirith Ungol make you want to play Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer….and that’s pretty tame in comparison. 4/10

cirith ungol ultimate edition

About Gavin O'Connor (106 Articles)
Lifelong Heavy Metal fan. First got into Quo and Leppard, when I was 9 or so I first heard Megadeth and that was me hooked

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