Cirith Ungol (band)

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Cirith Ungol
Origin Ventura, California, United States
Genres Heavy metal, doom metal, power metal
Years active 1972–1992, 1996-2001
Labels Liquid Flame, Metal Blade, Restless
Associated acts Titanic
Past members Neal Beattie
Tim Baker
Greg Lindstrom
Jerry Fogle
Robert Garven
Michael Vujea
Jim Barraza
Vernon Green

Cirith Ungol was a Californian heavy metal band who formed in 1972 and split up in May 1992.

The group is known for lyrics based on fantasy (particularly sword and sorcery) and is considered one of the earlier epic doom and power metal bands.[1]

Their first album, Frost and Fire, was closer to a hybrid between 1970s hard rock and metal [2] with songs written by then bassist and guitarist Greg Lindstrom, but from King of the Dead and onwards they played a progressive rock influenced kind of doom metal with song lyrics primarily written by vocalist Tim Baker and drummer Robert Garven,[3] however the compositions were usually composed with the inclusion of all the members.


The band began with Greg Lindstrom, Robert Garven, Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan (who would later go on to play guitar for Angry Samoans) playing in their first band Titanic in junior high school. With a desire to play heavier music, such as contemporary bands like Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, the rest of the band parted with Galligan and reformed in 1972 as Cirith Ungol. They played as an instrumental group writing their own songs then adding Neal Beattie on vocals.

It was not until 1980 that they were signed by Enigma and released their first record Frost and Fire with Tim Baker on vocals.[4]

The second album King of the Dead was released in 1984 followed by One Foot in Hell in 1986. After their fourth album Paradise Lost they split up due to frustration about the music business.[5]

In 2001 a new Cirith Ungol compilation album which contained old and unreleased demos and live songs, but no new material, was released aptly entitled "Servants of Chaos".[6] The album was released by Metal Blade Records in Germany with assistance and old tapes from both Lindstrom and Garven. It was an attempt to contribute to the fans a wealth of archival and previously unheard material, before the actual tapes deteriorated beyond retrieval. This double CD was later re-released worldwide on Metal Blade Records, with a very rare 1984 live video on DVD recorded at the Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club in California.[7]

Lindstrom now plays with his new band Falcon, who play some old Cirith Ungol songs.[8]

Founding guitarist Jerry Fogle died from liver failure on August 20, 1998.[9] This ended all rumors of a reunion.

The Name[edit]

They took their name from the mountain pass Cirith Ungol in J. R. R. Tolkien's epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings.

The name Cirith Ungol is Elvish and means "Pass of the Spider". While the place in Tolkien's book is pronounced "kirith ungol", the band pronounced it "sirith ungol". The band said in a later interview they had some problems with the name:

Everyone in the band was a big "Sword and Sorcery" literature fan, especially Greg [Lindstrom, guitars] and I. He would always turn us on to the great writers who gave us inspiration for our music. We read all the books... Conan, Bran Mak Morn, etcetera, but the books that stood out in my mind are Michael Moorcock's masterpieces: Elric, Hawkmoon, Corum among others. Greg Lindstrom and I met at an English Literature class where the teacher was reading Lord of the Rings... and Greg and I read it and it had an influence on our music and feelings. In retrospect I wish we had picked something easier to remember because a lot of our trouble has been over our name. People couldn't pronounce it or remember it, but we figured once they did they wouldn't forget it! We've humorously been called "Sarah's Uncle" and "Serious Uncool," for example! I know other bands are using the Tolkien angle. Led Zeppelin even made references to it in their earlier songs. I think he was an influence both then and now on many people.

— Robert Garven[10]

I remember some other possible band names we were considering: Minas Tirith, Khazad Dum, and Uruk Hai, all names from "The Lord Of The Rings". Rob and I both liked J.R.R. Tolkien and Enzo Ferrari, so we knew our songs would cover both those subjects!

— Greg Lindstrom[11]


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.[12]

Band Members[edit]


  • Neal Beattie - lead vocals (1972-1975)[13]
  • Tim Baker - lead vocals (1976-1992, 1996-2001)
  • Greg Lindstrom - guitars (1972-1982)
  • Jerry Fogle - guitars (1972-1987)
  • Jim Barraza - guitars (1988-1992, 1996-2001)
  • Michael "Flint" Vujea - bass guitar (1972-1987)
  • Vernon Green - bass guitar (1988-1992, 1996-2001)
  • Robert Garven - drums (1972-1992, 1996-2001)


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Metal Massacre (compilation appearance, 1982)
  • The Metal Machine (compilation appearance, 1984)
  • Best of Metal Blade, Vol. 2 (compilation appearance, 1988)
  • Live (EP, 1996)
  • Double Whammy (compilation appearance, 1999)
  • Servants of Chaos (rare tracks compilation, 2001)
  • Metal Blade 20th Anniversary (compilation appearance, 2002)
  • One Foot in Fire (tribute album, 2006)


External links[edit]