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Adequate Document of Cirith Ungol's Past - 70%

Lord_Elden, August 1st, 2007

If you read the other reviews I've written about Cirith Ungol's music you'll quickly realise I'm more than a casual fan of the band. However, I'm not rabid enough to give everything a band releases high scores just because. This DCD is a compilation of rare and unreleased stuff, demos, live songs and whatnot. As the nice booklet states: "None of this material was ever meant to be released".

And listening to disc one I quickly understand why: The music while at times good, quirky and interesting, suffers badly from hardcore keyboard masturbation. The synthesizers are dominating in the early demo material to the point of almost making parts unlistenable. It's apparent that the band thought the same thing since the keyboard dominance is downgraded to a mere presence of atmosphere creation on the official debut.

Four songs from disc one would later make it to the debut: "Frost and Fire", "Better Off Dead", "I'm Alive" and "Maybe That's Why". "100 MPH" made it to the third album. "Frost and Fire" is frankly put quite terrible, it suffers greatly from the "this could use some more synthesizer" syndrome. The three other songs which ended up on the debut are relatively similar to the final versions but they're tighter on the album which also obviously has better production values. "Maybe That's Why" might be slightly more emotional (or have a better "vibe" as Greg puts it) than the debut version but the differences are quite marginal. "100 MPH" has according to Greg more energy but he also says, "maybe I'm biased", since he apparently plays on the song here unlike on the album. Personally I prefer the album version due to the sound quality of the demo material.

There's plenty of new songs on disc one as well. "Bite of the Worm", a fast paced song, would be quite a killer tune if the production wasn't so crude and if the vocals didn't suck. "The Twitch" is a solid if unremarkable instrumental number. "Obsidian" is also instrumental although it was supposed to have lyrics. It's honestly not that interesting. "Witchdance" is pointless warm-up exercises. It's fortunately short. "Feeding the Ants" is also a short forgettable instrumental. "Eyes" is as Greg says something untypical for Cirith Ungol. It's boring to boot. "Hype Performance" would be quite solid if not for the synth overkill. "Last Laugh" was included as a live bonus cut on Metal Blade's re-release of King of the Dead. Here's the demo version. A solid but unspectacular piece. The both "Lankhmar" pieces and "Darkness Weaves" are epic instrumentals which hint at the oncoming brilliance the band reached with King of the Dead. There's are interesting bits here and there but they're rather unpolished and, as most material on the first disc, they suffer from synth abundance.

Disc two contains amongst other things five live songs and demo versions of most of the songs from the Paradise Lost album. It starts off with an early version of Death of the Sun which was included on Metal Blade's Metal Massacre One. It's more or less the same as on the King of the Dead album. The Paradise Lost songs show the potential that album had but, honestly, the album versions compare quite favourably to the demos even in their butchered state. Of the five live songs two already existed as bonus cuts on the re-releases of the first two albums. The three new ones are "Atom Smasher", "Master of the Pit" and "King of the Dead". It's a shame no official live albums exist because these songs testifies that Cirith Ungol was a kick ass live band. "Secret Agent Man" and "Ferrari 30SQV" are something of oddities: The first is a cover tune and the second is just the sound of a Ferrari (Greg and Rob are Ferrari fans).

This interesting compilation helps to get insight of what kind of being Cirith Ungol was in the early years and it also gives a nice chance to get a glimpse of what Paradise Lost could have been under the right circumstances. As such a document it is adequate but don't expect it to wear out your CD player...