You know what it's like. Every now and then you come across a band that has you wondering why they never became massive. Cirith Ungol is just such a band. For those who don't know, Cirith Ungol (Elvish for 'Pass Of The Spider' apparently - now you know) were a Californian outfit that trod the boards from 1972 to 1991. They released four albums and gained themselves a bit of a cult following in the process.
All the boys in the band were heavily into the fantasy worlds of Moorcock, Conan and Tolkien (hence the band name). Cirith Ungol were at one time described as doom which, in their time, they may have been but, compared to the extreme nature of doom today, I think that moniker is no longer appropriate.
Article continues below...
Their sound varies from belt-and-braces NWOBHM through fantasy Metal to the occasional stoned-out trance groove thing that Hawkwind used to be fond of. Despite the band being American, their music has the eccentricity of seventies English rock.
'Servants Of Chaos' is a collection of rarities, demos and live bits 'n' pieces that was originally released in 2001. This reissue comes as a three-disc set, two CDs and a DVD of a rarely seen live show shot at Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club. It is also being made available as a triple vinyl set.
The timing of this reissue is good because Cirith Ungol peddle the kind of raw Sabbath-influenced riff-heavy rock that has not only worn well, it's definitely back in fashion. There are understandable under-production issues, but the legacy of Cirith Ungol is really quite impressive.
Surprisingly, even though this is a compilation of stuff that was not meant for general release, 'Servants Of Chaos' has no duff tracks. Particular mention must go to a quartet in the middle of disc one, namely 'Maybe That's Why', 'Ill Met in Lankhmar', 'Return to Lankhmar' and 'Darkness Weaves'. These are fantastic variations of rocked-up old-fashioned English seventies prog that venture perilously close to psychedelia on occasions. Just to push the point, they've thrown in an interesting cover of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown's 'Fire'. Elsewhere, 'Obsidian' is a cracking lump of good, old-fashioned instrumental heavy Metal, and the live tracks on disc two illustrate that Cirith Ungol could burn a stage with the best of them.
'Servants Of Chaos' is a rare beast indeed. A reissued compilation that is not only a must-have for the Cirith Ungol fan, but one that should be filed generally under 'every home should have one'. The perfect soundtrack for digging Gandalf out of the shit (again) or that Middle Earth campaign you are planning down at your local war games emporium.