H.P. Lovecraft or Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction. He is best known for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Lovecraft has various relation with Cirith Ungol – various interviews, live and lyrics.
“…The black air was alive with the cloudy, semi-visible bulk of shapeless elemental things with eyes…A naked phosphorescent thing which swam into sight, scrambled ashore, and climbed up to squat leeringly on a carved golden pedestal.” – “The Horror at Red Hook” H.P. Lovecraft, at Dark Parade.
Robert: Greg (Lindstrom – guitarist) and I were in an advanced literature class and we were given a copy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to read. We had a couple of things in common, music and cars and racing and we were into heavy music and every week Greg would turn up with new music that we’d go and listen to and then we were assigned literature which is where we got ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Of course, now it’s famous with movies and the like but at the time only a handful had read it, three large volumes, but we read it and it had a big influence on us. Greg started delving into Conan by Robert E Howard and sword and sorcery stuff and I was starting to read HP Lovecraft and horror. So that was our literary references. (Razor’s Edge Interview: Robert Garven of Cirith Ungol, 2020)
By the way, you were one of the first bands to refer to Tolkien in lyrics and in his own name Cirith Ungol. Today, he is possibly the “favorite author” of HP Lovecraft headbangers, perhaps. What is your opinion about?
His writing influenced us very early in the band, and that’s how we decided on the name. I think what connects headbangers with their books and others of the same style is the fantastic setting, along with the epic heroes and the creatures that inhabit them. All very dark and exciting stories! We have also been influenced by various other forms of literature, art and cinema ever since. I can’t speak for the whole band, but HP Lovecraft’s work, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, and Michael Whelan’s paintings made a big impact on me. (Bass doom – INTERVIEW: Robert Garven of Cirith Ungol (by Nilo Vieira) 2019)
Well, especially with Greg, Ro, and maybe Tim as well… if you were to find a young fan or something like that, what would you say to them in terms of, “yeah, you should check out Moorcock. You should check out the Elric series.”
Garven: Well, I think reading is good. I would say it’s always important to keep reading, but there’s a whole bunch of literature out there. I actually at a young age, before I even started reading Lord of the Rings, I was reading H.P. Lovecraft and horror stuff. I think that affected me even more. You know, I belong to the Church and the Elder Gods. My house has a Cthulhu shrine and I mean I’m joking a bit, but I mean it all that means a bit even more for me. (Invisible Oranges. Cirith Ungol; or, The Champions of Heavy Metal’s Unwavering Spirit (Full Band Interview) 2020)
LoO: There is no need to ask if you love M Moorcock’s Elric since you have four (or should I say five) of the best artworks on your covers and if you love Tolkien since you named your band after a place in middle earth, but I want to ask, since we are a book blog as well, how important is reading and books in your life, inspiration and entertainment?
Rob: Reading is one of the keys to learning and that is how our band got started, and how we got our name. Greg and I were in an advanced literature class in 7th grade and we were assigned to read J. R. R. Tolkien’s, “The Lord of the Rings”. It was a huge influence on us at the time and opened up the “Sword and Sorcery” genre of books, including Elric, Conan, Bran Mak Morn, etc! The original members of the band were all steeped in this literature. Jerry was also a big fan of Frank Herbert’s, “Dune”, and I was also a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and all his work. I think you are perfectly correct when you say that was and is inspiration and entertainment.
Comment: I am proud to say that all these authors mentioned above form the great old ones series a tribute of myself through “land of oyr” to these shapers of modern fantasy literature namely R E Howard, J R R Tolkien, H P Lovecraft, M Moorcock, Karl Edward Wagner ( my latest book – a forgotten giant of dark fantasy and horror) and Robert Herbert (my upcoming novel)! (Interview with Cirith Ungol and drummer Robert Garven 2020)
While the band was plagued by poor management, I think one of the foremost reasons that Cirith Ungol failed to win much acclaim during their time was the fact that you folks were WAY ahead of your time. It is very possible that even if you were to unleash King Of The Dead even today, that you would STILL be misunderstood and maligned by the public at large. Cirith Ungol was a band that was too honest, too urgent, too dark and too damn odd to truly win the hearts of those preoccupied with discovering the most Satanic, fastest, or conversely, the most well-coiffed/well-permed heavy metal outfit out there. You brought with you lessons well-learned from a bygone ‘70s, but renewed and regurgitated forth these lessons in a form that hardened metalheads still have trouble comprehending today. I know that you labored VERY hard to keep Cirith Ungol alive and that you remain quite hurt about the demise of Cirith Ungol even today. Still, do you agree with my assertion that Cirith Ungol will forever fly above the heads of the mainstream? Perhaps it was a case of the band being born too late, for if, say, you were a product of 1971 USA you might have won a larger audience?
I think that from my perspective being heavily into the whole Sword and Sorcery and Horror literature at the time my dark influences came from these. I am still a huge reader of H. P. Lovecraft and would encourage anyone who has not read this great writers works to seek them out immediately, Both Steven King and Clive Barker have said that if it were not for him that neither of them would have started writing. There was some weird stuff out during our time that was successful so I do not think it was that. I still believe that the failure of our band to make it was one of investment of money and lack of promotion by the record companies. This does not let us off the hook for not being better businessmen, but it seems that true artists are really not the best businessmen and visa versa. As far as us being born to late or early even though I have heard that I am not sure it would have made a difference, its all about the money. (Diabolical Conquest webzine 2008)
From the very beginning you were pretty much into fantasy and Tolkien’s literature. Why?
Every one in the band was a big “Sword and Sorcery” (S&S) literature fan, especially Greg 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, etc. but the books that stood out in my mind are Michael Moorcock’s masterpieces: Elric, Hawkmoon, etc. I wish we were still together today because I have been reading lots of H.P. Lovecraft (Michael Whelan painted the covers of his books released in the U.S.) and his horror stories give me all sorts of ideas for new songs! (CIRITH UNGOL INTERVIEW METAL HAMMER / ITALY 11/99)
EPIC METAL! FANTASY LITERATURE! TWO TERMS THAT GO TOGETHER HAND BY HAND. WHAT DO THEY MEAN TO YOU? NAME YOUR 5 ALL TIME CLASSICS FROM BOTH CATEGORIES.
GREG: I don’t listen to that many epic metal bands, but here’s my top 5 albums that to me have a truly epic feel: CAPTAIN BEYOND’s first album, ANGEL’s first album, BLACK SABBATH-Heaven & Hell, DUST-Hard Attack, KANSAS-Masque. My fave fantasy books are: The Dying Earth series by JACK VANCE, Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser series by FRITZ LEIBER, Elric Of Melnibone by MICHAEL MOORCOCK, anything by CLARK ASHTON SMITH, and of course, The Lord Of The Rings.
ROB: I am pretty much a fan of any classic metal, I tend not to listen to much speed metal, mainly real heavy stuff with a good beat and good riffs. My favorite literature has moved from the Elric vein into more pure supernatural horror. My favorite author is definitely H.P. Lovecraft!!!! (CIRITH UNGOL INTERVIEW WITH EXPERIENCE THE POWER/ GREECE 9/01)
Has your taste in music and literature changed from then to now? Are you still into METAL?
Actually I still listen to what I consider classic metal. That does not mean that it has to be old, it means that it has to have the same heavy pounding beat that really pumps!!! I still read fantasy and horror and one of my all time favorite writers besides Moorcock, is H. P. Lovecraft. His writing is among the best horror literature ever written and if you have never read any go pick up a book instantly. If we were still in the band I would be writing songs based on his Cthulu Mythos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the U.S Michael Whelan painted the cover art for his books. (ETERNAL FLAME’S QUESTIONS TO CIRITH UNGOL 11/99)
Which kind of books inspired the lyrics of CIRITH UNGOL most? Would you say that “Lord of the Rings” is the ultimate fantasy book? How did you like the movie?
GREG: “The Dying Earth” by Jack Vance, the “Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser” series by Fritz Leiber, the Elric series by Michael Moorcock, anything by Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft, and obviously, LOTR. I thought the movie was great, much better than I had expected. I can’t wait to see the second part. Too bad Cirith Ungol isn’t on the soundtrack!
Rob: I was also pretty much influenced by the books I was reading at the time like the “Elric” and “Conan” series. Although I had not read much at the time I am reading quite a bit of H.P. Lovecraft now. His stories are fantastic!!! Another book that comes to mind is “Bloodstone” by Karl Edward Wagner. (INTERVIEW WITH “BLOOD OF THE ANCIENTS MAGAZINE” GERMANY, NOVEMBER 2002 with Christian Wachter)
“On the Slab” is my tribute to Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. I’m heavily influenced by both the Eric Bell-era power trio and the classic lineup with the duelling guitars of Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham. They’re a special band for Greg Lindstrom too. He and Cirith Ungol drummer Rob Garven used to wear homemade Thin Lizzy t-shirts on their rounds of SoCal record shops like my old hangout, Moby Disc in Canoga Park. The title stems from the story of the same name by Harlan Ellison. “On the Slab” was Ellison’s paean to H.P. Lovecraft. This one’s rooted in reality rather than fantasy. It’s painfully obvious that this tune is a tale of a smack addict going down the drain on drugs. It could just as easily encompass blow and meth as well. (As in “inhaling your death off a slab”.) (Perry Grayson)
“He was mainly doing book covers,” Rob informs. “Horror books like H.P. Lovecraft, and he did almost all of the original Moorcock books. They’re pretty amazing paintings, so we actually made friends with him. I kind of feel bad for Michael because, once again, our hope for us was to become really big and famous, and all these people that had supported us and stood by us… He had the actual painting for Stormbringer, and I said ‘I wanna buy that.’ He said ‘I’m gonna hang onto it because it’s my favourite painting.’ I go ‘Someday when I’m rich I’m gonna pay you whatever,’ and goes ‘Don’t worry. Okay.’ We never made it big though. Him allowing us to use his paintings on our records I think really helped the band, and I believe that actually they fit our music. It’s not like he was giving us any kind of charity or anything, but I don’t think we ever compensated him thoroughly for the paintings that he allowed us to use.” (CIRITH UNGOL – Kings Of The Dead (Anthony Morgan) Jan 2012)
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