The Porcelain Throne: Cirith Ungol

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Good news everyone! I have now made the Porcelain Throne column even easier to submit to, so everyone out there with a decent knowledge of a discography no longer has an excuse not to get writing. Since I have received many questions as to how this column works, I created a template that gives you all the details you need to get your writing published on the Toilet ov Hell.

All you need  is to have a decently expansive knowledge about a band (preferably one we do not talk about often), and to send an E-mail requesting the template to tohthrone@gmail.com. This time around, we again have the Nordling Rites ov Karhu with an article about the Californian band, Cirith Ungol. Karhu’s previous submission about Reverend Bizarre, is also a killer, so check that out if you missed it the first time around.  

The tale of Cirith Ungol is a series of unfortunate events. Before their first album, they manifested as an active live band and released multiple demos, garnering little to no attention. Why their fire never spread is beyond me. They had a charismatic frontman in Tim Baker, who had some of the most idiosyncratic and divisive vocals ever known to man. A rhythm group so tight, wind couldn’t get past it, and guitarists able to weave hours and hours of the Almighty Riff into the fabric of our time. They never did anything that would have perceivably led to their demise, but were never given the chance to stand shoulder to shoulder amidst the greats.

Frost and Fire (1980)

When they finally found the opportunity to record and release their debut in 1980, Frost and Fire, their wills must have been broken. It would not come as a surprise to anyone that desperation was making its way in. Frost and Fire consisted of their most radio-friendly material yet. The songs were shorter, more upbeat, and less challenging to listen than the band’s older masterpieces.  Having self-financed the album, they were more in need of the sweet, sweet greenback than ever before. And what  prize was Cirith Ungol awarded? The DJ down at the local station played the record once and dubbed it too heavy.


King of the Dead (1984)

Cirith Ungol’s career is an easy one to follow, even if you know nothing about them, by just comparing the albums. King of the Dead marks a new beginning. The band saw there was no use in chasing the dream of success, especially when it meant going down the road of compromise. They dug up some old songs and wrote a few new ones, each longer and darker and, of course, heavier than anything on their preceding effort. If Frost and Fire still owed to hard rock, King of the Dead was grasping the hands of doom and progressive rock.

Even though Greg Lindstrom had quit the band between releases, leaving them with a mere one guitar, his songs were still the foundation on which the band built. The album is dominated by a guitar tone more reminiscent of psychedelic rock than anything considered metal, giving the band an easily recognizable sound. With progressive elements rearing their heads every now and then, the album has a quality to it not quite found elsewhere. Releasing King of the Dead in 1984 places the band before Candlemass as the forefathers of epic doom metal. Given the bands distinguishable sound, I imagine there should be a multitude of power metal bands that owe more than a little to Cirith Ungol.


One Foot in Hell (1986)

King of the Dead is most often cited as their finest effort and righteously so, but this has led to a serious overlooking of the later releases. It garnered notable attention in Europe and so their record company was pushing harder on them to produce more marketable material. Cirith Ungol still had not achieved great popularity and now they grew frustrated as they were no longer in complete control. Their songs became shorter again, and gone were Flint’s imaginative bass lines that rivaled the guitar. Even Baker’s voice is more loathsome on the aptly titled One Foot In Hell. Ballsier and faster still, one can hear the band venting their frustration to the industry and their current situation. My greatest wish is that Baker would’ve been a greater wizard with words, so that he might have expressed all this in his lyrics, which were never very imaginative or eloquent.


Paradise Lost (1991)

Cirith Ungol soon fell apart. They hired Vernon Green on bass and Jim Barraza on guitar (actually Barraza was already hired to be second guitarist, leading Jerry Fogle to feel that he was being replaced), and using session musicians, they recorded Paradise Lost  which was released in 1991.

Just looking at song titles (Heaven Help Us, Paradise Lost, Chaos Rising) makes evident the bands situation. They were falling, quickly. It is the most varied album including a mash up of everything they had done before. Cirith Ungol had no artistic control over the album, and its rights remain with a company that refuses to re-release it. The mix lacks all energy and the band sounds like they are too tired to be angry or disappointed anymore. This broke the camel’s back and the band broke up.

Garven, so bitterly disappointed at the outcome of this, vowed never to touch drumsticks again. An oath kept to this very day. So take your hats off in respect for the deceased, they are never coming back.

Via Wikipedia: The cover art of all the studio albums is taken from the covers of the DAW Books editions of Michael Moorcock‘s Elric of Melnibone saga; the art is by Michael Whelan

Thanks again to Nordling Rites ov Karhu for this submission, but let’s give the dude a break! I know there are lurkers out there who are sitting around thinking “why the hell doesn’t anyone at the toilet write about my favorite bands?” Now is your time to do something about it! tohthrone@gmail.com.

Also, you nerds may recognize the name of the band as a J.R.R. Tolkien reference, which Dubaya wrote about back in September.

(Photo Via)

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  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    Aw man, I slacked again. I was going to attach the template to the article to make it easier. Will do something about this tonight…

    • DDubya.

      I can edit the article if you want to message me about what needs to be done.

      • YourLogicIsFlushed

        I just wanted to add a link to a document, but it is on my computer at home. I gotta start using cloud storage…

        • DDubya.

          I’ve got my dissertation stuff stored in multiple places for that reason.

  • Good read. I can’t help but laugh at someone saying that song is “too heavy” though.

    • Are you not crushed by those thundering br00tal roars?

    • Howard Dean

      Cirith Ungol is heavier than Cattle Decapitation.

      • Wat

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        Surely you jest. Cattle Decapitation is so heavy.

        • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

          cattle decapitation is not “pc”—-so his job –as a libtard—is to say things like “he likes beer/weed”—then say a band or t shirt is “not cool”—cuz of the 911murderers/pc internet fake shiteaters

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I’m not a liberal. I’m a libertarian.

          • Commander Shepard

            He was talking about Howard Dean, dummy.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I couldn’t tell.

          • Commander Shepard

            It’s that In flames, the black hole has formed and you are on your way to partying with emmure.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Oh no. You have a very good point. My friend asked me to go see them with Suicide Silence and I said I’d go. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Why In Flames? Why have you done this to me?

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          You would say that.

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    I’ve been thinking about writing one of these but I can’t decide which band to do one one. I thought about doing one of King Crimson or some other good prog band but I can’t decide. I might do one of Todd Rundgren though as he’s a great rock/metal artist.

    • Howard Dean

      Ideas for you:

      -UFO
      -W.A.S.P.
      -ELP
      -The Moody Blues
      -Kenny Rogers Roasters
      -Taco Bell Breakfast Menu

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        I don’t really know much about The Moody Blues or latter day WASP albums but I know a ton about UFO and Queensryche. I’ll probably do Queensryche because they’re underrated and they aren’t really spoken of much here.

        • The Mighty Tapir

          Maybe there’s a reason for that.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Queensryche is a well like prog metal band. I also thought about covering Manilla Road which would be a gigantic undertaking.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

            Do Manilla Road, they are awesome.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I shall. I’ll finish it once their new album comes out in February.

          • love the new identity

          • The Mighty Tapir

            Tapirs are love, Tapirs are life.

        • Bolt Thrower.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

            It’s sad that that Bolt Throwe actually IS underdiscussed EVERYWHERE.

          • Simon PhoenixKing

            Maybe it’s because everyone already knows how god – tier they are so there’s no real need to elaborate on it.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I’m doing Manilla Road. I’m starting the article as soon as I get the template.

          • Commander Shepard

            Bolt Thrower

          • DDubya.

            Bolt Thrower

          • M Shadows!

            Bolt Thrower!

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I thought that a true Bolt Thrower fan would do it. I am not worthy of such an undertaking!

      • Tyree

        Only John Mellencamp is real.

      • dibs on TB breakfast menu. and believe me, you’ll be on the porcelain throne after that!

    • KJM

      Isn’t the point of this column to write about a band that doesn’t exist anymore?

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    hail the gathering of true metal—–
    shit on all libtards/bots

    • Edward #negrodMMXV

      …and sheeple. Shit on all sheeple.

      • KJM

        WAKE UP, WHITE SHEEPLE!!

    • Jimmy Calhoun

      I didn’t know “true metal” was supposed to be political…

  • Tyree

    FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!!!!!

  • Howard Dean

    If Cirith Ungol were a Dutch beer, this would be me:

    http://www.2acheck.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/looter-heineken-guy.jpg

  • Excellent article. I absolutely love Cirith Ungol. They’re definitely a very underrated band. I’ll have to take a look through my library and see if I can find a band or two that I would elevate to the porcelain throne. I don’t want to do an easy band, I want to pull something semi-obscure.

    • it’s tough man! i was lucky to find Aurora… the handsome devils who visit this site have heard EVERYTHING!!

      • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

        I’d have a few others, but the torch needs to be passed. Lol, and this wasn’t actually even meant as a PorcelainThrone article.

      • I’ve managed to find about 12 bands that I could write on. Out of that 12, I could realistically write on about 3 because of several reasons. 1) My knowledge of the band is so little that it would pointless for me to attempt to communicate about them intelligently. 2) The band doesn’t have an overall excellent discography (an example for this would be my love for the band Illdisposed as I found their last album and a couple of the early 2000 albums to blow complete and total ass). 3) Everything I heard by the band may be good but they are so obscure that some of their stuff is not on the internet and can’t be obtained anymore without paying vast sums of money (a couple bands I could do have music that I haven’t heard and can’t find).

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      Sweet, I will send you the template in a few hours!

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Is Darkthrone too easy, because of the whole throne thing, etc.?

      • DDubya.

        Nah, I’d love to read something by you.

        • Tyree

          I would as well.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Never going to happen, sorry dubya. I’m too lazy, apathetic and monosyllabic.

          • DDubya.

            You could just exchange a few monosyllabic grunts and post something you like.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Don’t I already do that?

          • DDubya.

            Touche

          • cosigned. in fact, i’d be willing to bet Joe would post anything KSoFM writes.

      • Fuck if I know.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Well, fuck.

  • JWG

    I am well impressed at the time travelling feat of having their second album come out 86 years before the first one…

    • DDubya.

      Hahahahahaha, I’ll fix it.

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      fuck my fat fingers haha

      • um… is this an order or a request?

        • DDubya.

          ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

    Thanks @Joe, this actually works better this way.

  • Malted Hate

    Never got into this band, although I always liked the covers. The music just never clicked with me. This could be a got change to give them another shot.

    Very cool article.

    • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

      The latter albums might be more your thing if the others didn’t quite click.

      • Malted Hate

        Digging King of the Dead a lot! (the song, gonna check out the album)
        Come to think of it, might just listened to the first album in the past…

  • NefariousDude

    That album art is glorious

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Fuck yes. You don’t fuck with Cirith Ungol.

    • Scrimm

      It always takes me a second to get the right band cause I mix the name up with Cirith Gorgor.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Not a fan of Cirith Gorgor. Heard one album and it sounded like old Dark Funeral.

        • Scrimm

          Never really was either. Cirith Ungol is much better.

  • Tyree
  • Expect my porcelain throne write up on Cock and Ball Torture in 3-5 years.

  • YES! This band is absolutely glorious, and an excellent example of both early epic doom/power metal. Why not have both in one song? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZDP-SLrcEM

    • and can we talk about the solo at the end? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkKwkR53gCQ

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        This album is fucking godly.

      • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

        Yes, yes we can-can

        • In USPMC, I have a discussion about whether this band is power metal with some friends like once every 4 months. All the euro power losers run away and hide while the true warriors clash with mighty steel over a genre debate

          • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

            I’d say yes. Yes they would have been if anyone would have known what PM was back then. But so would have Iron Maiden

          • Scrimm

            Iron Maiden transcends any genre.

          • Maiden is not power metal.

          • Scrimm

            I agree completely.

          • Maiden is wonderful.

          • Tyree

            Indeed

          • I say they lean more heavily towards doom/epic doom than power metal. They definitely have certain traits and even specific tracks that are without a doubt power metal, but the overwhelming majority of their discography leans doom/heavy.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

            It does yes, ‘specially the later ones. But again, there were nl categories for them at the time.

          • Totally agreed! I mean people put Helloween on a split called ‘death metal’ back in the day

          • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

            It’s funny how stuff gets categorized about a century after it was relevant to categorize it and then the old categoried morph into completeöy different.

          • I like how nowadays we consider the first bands of a genre to be “geniuses” when often times they were just trying to be faster/heavier/more brutal than the bands before them

          • Nordling Rites Ov Killuminati

            Very much point on. Gake the birth of DM, just thrash, but more everything.

          • You can definitely apply it to bands like Neurosis, who really did go out of their way to do something different, but early death and black metal were just a bunch of dudes trying to out brutal/evil each other.

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    Recently checked them out for the first time. Decibel had one or two of their releases in the top 100 doom albums OF ALL TIME! Anyway I agree, tight as fuck! BUT the vocals….wow! I need to make another attempt…another great post though man you really know your shit!

  • OldMetalHead

    Wish I’d attempted to check these guys out back in the day. They’re better than a lot of the stuff I was listening to back then.

      • OldMetalHead

        I definitely stepped right into that one. I was actually thinking more about Mötley Crue and Queensreich.

        • What’s wrong with them?

          • OldMetalHead

            Mötley Crue commercialized their sound after “Shout at the Devil”. Queensreich was good then. I just think they’re a joke now.

          • Sure, but there was nothing wrong with them at the time, right?

          • KJM

            Crue has 2 classic discs and QR have 3.5 great ones, 4.5 depending on you you talk to. Good stuff back then, still great now.

  • BLVKKBEVRD

    An extremely well written article

  • Stockhausen

    I thought that artwork looked familiar. Michael Whelan did the best artwork for the Dark Tower series (and a million other things).

  • Simon PhoenixKing

    I may have one particular band in mind for this column. Howard likely knows whom I’m talking about.

  • KJM

    If I were more confident in my writing ability, I’d write about Scissorfight for this column. Unfortunately I don’t know details about why they broke up except for maybe poor finances and Ironlung’s obvious distaste with the more violent part of their fan base.

  • Good stuff, YLS. I was always aware of this band in the eighties but I never got around to checking them out ’til much later.

  • J.R.

    http://io9.com/how-michael-moorcock-became-the-anti-tolkien-1678116902

    Interestingly stumbled across this today. I am now amused that they would use that image with that name.

  • Jimmy Calhoun

    ‘Frost and Fire’ = “too heavy”? WTF kind of idiot was that DJ???