CIRITH UNGOL’s Robert Garven: A magical era

A legendary band with a legendary name – Cirith Ungol. This Doom/Power metal band originally formed in late 1971 in Ventura, California, USA, taking their name from J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic novel “The Lord of the Rings”. And now in 2023 they are back, with a new album and several live shows! Founding member and drummer Robert Garven fill us in…

Robert, please tell us what Cirith Ungol is doing now?
We’re getting ready for the release our fifth studio album “Dark Parade”, which will be released October 20, 2023. I personally think it’s the best thing that we’ve ever done and that’s a big statement, because our last album “Forever Black” was pretty spectacular. We just played at LPR in New York City with Night Demon and Sanhedrin and a will play an album release show at the Roxy in Los Angeles on October 20th.

Any favorite metal bands?
There are many excellent heavy metal bands playing right now, many of whom we have played with. The best part of playing festivals is to see so many bands from different metal genres.

How did Cirith Ungol form?
The band took shape in 1971 after Greg Lindstrom, Jerry Fogle and I left the band “Titanic”, to form “Cirith Ungol”. Our goal was to play the heaviest metal known to man. We holed up in an upstairs lair at my ancestral home and for years we wrote and recorded music, honing our songwriting skills and style into what is easily recognized today as “Cirith Ungol”. Many of those early demos can be heard on the double album released by Metal Blade Records in 2001, “Servants of Chaos”, and the infamous “Orange Album”, which was recently re-released on Irongrip Records. It was a magical era, and we never gave up hope in pursuing our vison of what we considered true metal!

Who designed the great album covers for the band?
The cover of “Dark Parade” like all of our covers (with the exception of “Servants of Chaos”) was painted by the extraordinary fantasy artist Michael Whelan. The artwork appeared originally on Michael Moorcock’s 1985 Elric book entitled, “Elric at the End of Time”. In the beginning our dream was to use these Elric paintings, which graced the series of DAW books from the 1980’s for all our future covers. Of course, back then we were a young band and had no idea what the future held for us, or how many albums we would ever produce. As fate would have it, we were honored and privileged, to have this renowned artist and friend’s work grace our 6 studio albums, our single, “Witch’s Game”, our live album, “I’m Alive” and the 2021 EP “Half Past Human”. This amazing painting shows Elric pensively looking out, possibly recalling all his previous struggles, as he had grown older, not unlike this our band as we near the twilight of our career.

What was the experience like being in the band?
I love playing drums and I love creating our unique brand of metal. It is a lot of hard work, but the creation of the music which will last forever is what is important to myself and the band.

Who is the writer of the group?
All our music is written collaboratively, using the same time tested formula that we have used since our earliest origins.

Have you played any music festivals lately?
The biggest festival we ever played last year was Wacken in Germany at 81,000 people. We were honored to play on one of the big stages before Judas Priest. The last festival we played, is the most famous underground music festival “Keep it True Festival” in Germany. We like playing festivals because it gets our music out to the largest possible audience, many who have never heard of the band before. We are constantly looking for new recruits to “Join the Legion”.

What lies in the future for the band?
Right now, we’re focused on the release of the new album, and playing as many shows as we can to promote it. Every day is a gift, and who knows what the future may hold. I hope that you can spread the word about “Cirith Ungol” and we hope to see you and your readers at one of our rare upcoming appearances!


Text: John Wisniewski
Photos: Cirith Ungol on Facebook

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski