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Few bands in the history of the heavy metal underground have a story as remarkable, improbable, or uplifting as that of CIRITH UNGOL. Formed in Ventura, California in the early 1970s, CIRITH UNGOL created a sound the world had never experienced before. Rather than passively channeling their influences, the band was driven to forge an altogether heavier, darker, more apocalyptic sound. It was obscure and arcane, mysterious and eccentric, epic and expansive, but most of all, unfailingly, bone-crushingly heavy, dark, and doom-filled.
Wasting no time to ride their molten wave they started with their 2020 studio comeback Forever Black, CIRITH UNGOL started writing songs for Dark Parade as soon as Forever Black was released. Then, like everyone else, CIRITH UNGOL were hamstrung by the global pandemic, struggling through illness, seclusion, grief, and depression in their quest to create dark, vibrant art. And like the greatest warriors, they persevered, working on one song at a time – distractions be damned. The first track composed was the crushing “Relentless,” which reinforced their confidence and clarity of vision. The rest of the album came naturally, fueled by personal misery and the tragedy of worldwide collapse.
“Band members lost close relatives and we struggled as best we could through the pandemic which ravaged the earth’s population and economies,” drummer Rob Garven notes. “As horrifying as it was, it was the perfect backdrop for our doom-laden message of a world on the edge of destruction.”
The first single from Dark Parade is opening track “Velocity (S.E.P.),” a compact, mid-paced blast of crunching riffs and deft hooks that act as a microcosm for much of the doom-laden album. “While talking with [vocalist] Tim [Baker] and Rob about what kind of song was needed, a decision was made to stop doing the galloping chugs, as done many times on previous albums, and start doing down-picking chugs while keeping some sort of tie to the CIRITH UNGOL sound,” reveals guitarist Jimmy Barraza. “Straying toward a Sabbath or Priest vibe is not far off and happens subconsciously.”
The track is about promises made and debts paid. Faust and Robert Johnson both knew what to expect on their visit to the Crossroads – great rewards and great loss. A bit of suffering in Dante’s Inferno will always remind us that the earthly pleasures we seek always come at a price. Sell your soul, take the deal, suffer the consequences.
“It’s about what happens when we sell that which we hold dear,” Baker notes. “Our soul — if such a thing exists — our dignity, pride, and whatever else we have that will help seal the deal in an endless pursuit of money, power, glory and dominion over others.”