EP REVIEW: Cirith Ungol – Half Past Human

Returning from the grave after close to three decades, California heavy metal legends Cirith Ungol blasted back last year with Forever Black (Metal Blade), their first album since 1991’s Paradise Lost (Restless Records). Striking back while the iron remains hot, the band follows up last year’s full-length offering with Half Past Human (Metal Blade), a four-track EP that reaches back into the past, resurrecting a handful of tracks that never made it properly onto any of their existing albums.

Opening with the roar of a car engine, a rough version of ‘Route 666’ originally appeared on the band’s 1978 demo but not until now has the mid-paced rocker with a Black Sabbath groove been heard in its completed form. Considering where the band lifted their name, there had to be at least one song based on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings, and ‘Shelob’s Lair’ is just that, a powerful track steeped in metal fantasy that really does sound like it was just dusted down from the early 1980s.

‘Brutish Manchild’ is all Iron Maiden twin guitars and throbbing basslines, the strangled, sandpaper rasp of original vocalist Tim Baker driving the song onwards before the EP concludes with the title track, a slow and doomy cut featuring big drums and some nimble-fingered, wah-assisted fretwork.

Boasting cover art by fantasy artist Michael Whelan (lifted from Michael Moorcock‘s 1977 book, The Weird of the White Wolf), Half Past Human is a damn fine throwback to decades past, performed with attitude and sincerity, and bolstered by an authentic-sounding old school production.

Buy the EP here: http://www.metalblade.com/cirithungol

7 / 10