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Cirith Ungol: Dark Parade

Dark Parade is album number six from legendary underground heavy metal act Cirith Ungol, named way back in the '70s for a mountain pass from J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' books. For a band that has been around for so long, they've had lots of stops and starts over the years, but they've been pretty active of late since their most recent reunion, and Dark Parade follows the very well received Forever Black from 2020. For my money, Dark Parade is a greater achievement, and might even rank up alongside King of the Dead and One Foot in Hell as one of the best Cirith Ungol albums in their catalog. Call them doom, call them power metal...or just call them traditional metal, Cirith Ungol have always had a unique sound that doesn't fit neatly into any heavy metal sub-genre, mainly due to the vocals of Tim Baker and the wide variety of guitar sounds from Greg Lindstrom & Jim Barazza.

There is no shortage of winners here, from the opening assault of "Velocity (S.E.P.)" and "Relentless", to the crushing, doom-laden "Sailor on the Seas of Fate", the band hits you with three excellent songs to kick off the album, the guitars sounding huge, the drums crashing, and the vocals of Baker venomous. I just love the Spanish guitars that lead off "Sacrifice", quickly morphing into an epic-sounding doom track, while "Looking Glass" and the title track are slightly faster-paced tracks that pack a mean punch, the guitar riffs being especially gargantuan. Even the final two songs just decimate, the pummeling "Distant Shadows" and the evil dirge "Down Below", the latter containing some of the most effective doom riffs on the album.

Ultimately, Dark Parade is a master achievement from Cirith Ungol, who have recently announced that Barazza has had to step down from the band due to health reasons and that 2024 will be their last year as a live touring act. Where that leaves the band for future recordings remains to be seen, but if Dark Parade proves to be the final album, well, they've gone out with one of their best. If more is to follow, then that is indeed something to be excited about.

Track Listing
1. Velocity (S.E.P.) 04:44
2. Relentless 04:28
3. Sailor on the Seas of Fate 08:10
4. Sacrifice 04:58
5. Looking Glass 04:25
6. Dark Parade 05:51
7. Distant Shadows 06:08
8. Down Below 05:21

Added: December 3rd 2023
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 485
Language: english

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