CIRITH UNGOL has just made mighty and marvelous return with their latest full-length Forever Black. There’s no questions or any doubt about this one: its one of the best records that I have lately check out and I have to say it one of the best records, or the most mature one, when it comes to Cirith Ungol as well. So, it was about a time to make yet another interview with such a great legends….
Hello! Forever Black is already out for some time, and the first reviews and interviews are coming, so how about your first impressions? You have appeared moreover on some front pages of magazines which is indeed great. So, there’s a lot of hype, that’s for sure.
The band is very excited that the album has been received so well, even making the German music charts! I think we languished so long, we are thankful for the attention!
How do you feel to have a brand new record out after almost 30 years? I guess it could be indeed awesome to read the reviews, observing the response from both fans and media, following comments and impression since the band is now indeed popular so to say…
Rob: The reviews are amazing, and actually say what we wanted to hear, that the impression is that we never changed our vision, and this album was the logical successor to “Paradise Lost”. We had unfinished business and this album is our response!
Let’s speak about a new offering Forever Black: how would you like to describe a brand new record? From my point of view it was a natural step after Paradise Lost although almost 3 decades have passed?
Rob: It is of course all new material, and like I said, we wanted to pick up where we left off. Even though so much time has passed, the vision of the band and what we see as true metal, has never wavered. Once again our music attempts to conjure up the darker side of man’s eternal struggle, “A Churning Maelstrom of Metal Chaos Descending!”
From my own point of view it seems that each songs represents some part and piece so to say from CU’s time and discography. There are some songs that remind me of some really old recording like The Frost Monstreme and few others. Could you say us something about this?
Yes, that is how it was planned. There is a blend of themes and imagery intertwined from our past, from the call to arms of “Legions Arise”, which is part II of “Join the Legion”, to the nod to “Frost & Fire”, on “The Frost Monstreme” & “The Fire Devine”, with the rest being part of Tim’s dystopian and prophetic vision of a bleak and dark future for all mankind! We are well aware of our past, and we like to weave and interconnect it to the present, and the future.
Moreover, there are songs like Legions Arise, Stormbringer or the closing title Forever Black that somehow represent the entire album from the very start to the end. Could we say that these compositions are the founding stones of ”Forever Black” album?
Early on we saw the direction this album was headed, and it was dark. As soon as we finished “Forever Black”, we knew that would be the title track, and the cornerstone of the record, and everything was constructed around that. Tim thinks this is our most consistent album, and it definitely is our statement to the world!
How about the lyrics this time? There are the lyrics, of course, inspired by Michael Moorock’s Elric character (like in Stormbringer) but how about the other songs as well? Have you written them in free-style or you have devoted them to any particular book or character?
“Stormbringer” is the only song that was loosely based on the Elric series on this album, and after all the cover art depicting his black blade, we felt it was time we tacked it’s story. It is a ballad describing the love hate relationship between Elric and this cursed blade he carries. It has some amazing guitar work and definitely is the “Finger of Scorn” of this album
Of course, there’s a question about cover artwork. Once more time you’ve chosen to have Elric on a cover, but please tell me how did you choose to have the cover this time? It seems that cover artwork somehow goes with the atmosphere of the album and the title Forever Black follows it perfectly…
You are very perceptive! The exquisite painting we chose for the cover, “Elric in Exile”, perfectly reflects the dark and brooding mood of this album. Again, it was painted by Michael Whelan, whose art graces our 4 other studio albums, our single, “Witch’s Game”, and our live album, “I’m Alive”. Unlike the other studio albums which featured the large paintings used also for the 1980’s DAW Book editions of Elrić of Melnibone covers, this painting was a small study by Michael of Elric in the wasteland, and we feel it stands shoulder to shoulder with his other works, and we are thrilled to have it on the cover of “Forever Black”.
CU was just about to head-line Keep it True for two nights. It was indeed awesome, but since the whole situation has changes like over the night. Do you have any information, news or idea about the next year is it just postponed?
Yes, this pandemic has been a tragedy of epic proportions, especially for all those that have paid the ultimate price. The “Keep it True Festival” has just been rescheduled for April 22-24 of 2021, and we are hoping that we all make it through the other side of this nightmare! We had planned to play the first night our entire new album and the best of “Paradise Lost”, with the next night being all the best material from the other albums. Unfortunately, that opportunity may not ever be repeated again, but at least by then, many will be familiar with the new songs on “Forever Black”!
And the last question: how do you feel now since you are older: is it harder now after 30 years to do the things like having live performances, travel or record albums? I know it must be awesome but it could be also a heavy burden as well. I am very curious to hear your story.
Well age is a state of mind, and I think “Forever Black” is our statement, that even though we took many years off, we were able to come back with the band carrying the torch of true metal high for all to behold. Every show, we were getting stronger and picking up steam. We were ready to go out and lay down some heavy grooves. This shutdown has only temporarily halted our onward march, against the forces of false metal! Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance. David Mamet
I would like to thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best until next time. I hope to see you finally somewhere live at least during next year!
I look forward to that, and hope to see you and all your readers at one of our rare upcoming performances. Long have we slumbered, but now we awake!
Answers by Rob Graven
Interview done by Marko Miranovic