Cirith Ungol

Cirith Ungol photoCirith Ungol will be winding down their careers on a high note this next year.
By: Pam Baumgardner

Ventura is full of musicians who live and breath music. It’s one of the reasons I love this town so much. One of those bands is Cirith Ungol whose history sounds like a rock opera, and if I didn’t know Robert Garven (drummer) personally, I would have laid money that their story was pure fiction.
From practicing in a bedroom here in Ventura in the 70s to playing arena festivals in Europe, it truly is an inspiring story. And though the point of this article isn’t to provide their history (I hope a book and/or movie will be in the works), the point is to pay homage to Cirith Ungol who will be winding down their careers on a high note this next year.
In 1992, after releasing four albums, a number of band personnel changes, and frustrations with the industry, the stress took its toll, and the band officially called it quits. Then in 1998, co-founder, Jerry Fogle died of liver failure. There would be calls for the band to reunite, requests for interviews, and a growing fan base in Europe, but the two remaining core members, Garven and Tim Baker had become “civilians” working their normal jobs and living uncomplicated lives for just about twenty-five years. Then in 2015, Garven, Baker, former guitarists Greg Lindstrom and Jimmy Barraza got together and started to play in a rehearsal space where I’m told, the magic was rediscovered. After bassist Flint declined to rejoin, Jarvis Leatherby of Night Demon (huge fan of the band), stepped in.
Then 2016 Cirith Ungol headlined the Frost and Fire II festival at the Majestic Ventura Theater. I was there that night and the packed house of metal fans from around the world cheered and welcomed back the band with open arms. In Garven’s words, “When the ancient stars aligned, Cirith Ungol crawled out of its ancient slumber, to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.” Two days later, the City of Ventura declared October 10, 2016 to be Cirith Ungol Day.

Fast forward to today, after playing metal festivals in Europe to packed stadiums and venues, Cirith Ungol has announced they will retire from live performances at the end of 2024.
Cirith Ungol will release their sixth full-length album, Dark Parade this month via Metal Blade Records and will play a special record release show on October 20 at the Roxy in West Hollywood. Not only will this be the bands first Los Angeles live performance in thirty-five years, but it will commemorate The Roxy’s 50th anniversary with the band playing their new release in its entirety followed by a full set of their classic material.
I can’t imagine what a thrill it has been since reuniting and playing to packed crowds, but it couldn’t have happened to a better group of guys. Congratulations Cirith Ungol!

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