Article CIRITH UNGOL: Tales of a “Paradise Lost” – the 30th anniversary • Published Sat 01 May 2021
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Paradise Lost (1991)

Robert Garven: Many years have passed since this album was recorded and released and my views on it have evolved significantly over the years. When the band got back together in 2016, Metal Blade Records re-released “Paradise Lost” and this gave me a chance to reflect on the events that happened with this album, and leading up to the break-up of the band. I was lucky enough to meet up with Ron Goudie, the producer of the album, at some of our reunion shows, and got to “bury the hatchet” over any ill will I had with him before he recently passed. We agreed it was a kick ass album and that he had done a good job, even if his style of recording had caused conflict at the time. My thinking on the album now, after much introspective thoughts, are that the three songs which we added to be supportive of the new members never should have been on that album. They were not bad songs, and many like them, they were just not traditional “Cirith Ungol” songs, and they diluted the album’s original theme and message.

I am not sure why we did not continue on Metal Blade Records after “One Foot in Hell”, and looking back that was a serious mistake on the bands part. We ended up signing with the new Restless Records, who had sprung from the ashes of Enigma Records, after Enigma had been sold to Capitol Records. This whole era was a time of turmoil for the band. Flint and Jerry left disillusioned by the fact we had been together for many years with very little to show for it, except the amazing music we created. We found two local musicians who joined the band, just long enough to record the album, but left before it was even released. Another local musician, Vernon Green, joined to play bass after “Paradise Lost” was released. The recording process was difficult, and soon after the album was released, we were dropped by Restless Records, causing even more distress. Soon Vern left the band along with Jimmy, leaving Tim and I the last standing members of “Cirith Ungol”. To be honest with the state of the music scene then, shifting away from what we considered true metal, “Cirith Ungol” sunk beneath the waves like the great god Cthulhu waiting for the stars to align so we could rise forth up from the depths upon an unexpecting world in 2016.

Tim Baker and Vern Green

1. Join the Legion

“Howling our metal, we light up the world.
And the banner of Ungol is proudly unfurled.
Raising our legion, and now you belong.
And the point of our blade will be screaming our song!”

Rob: A rousing song, our first in the series of a call to arms for our fans to join us in on our career long mission, to rally around what we considered “true metal”, and defeat the forces of false metal! Part two of course is “Legions Arise”, which is on our recent full-length album “Forever Black”, released in 2020! This song has a cool drum break, and I love the slowdown to the epic solo!

Jim Barazza: Wow, it’s been 30 years now since we recorded this album. I will try to describe it from my perspective and for the guitarist, and hard-core enthusiasts of this album. How the riffs came about being what they are. Also, worth mentioning was that at the time we started to do demos. Flint was still in the band and participated in working through most of the songs. The intro to “Join the Legion” was the first riff idea I worked on. It started back in 1984. I have early cassette recordings with almost the same intro. A band I played with back in 1984 had used it to start off an original song. In later years, prior to actually becoming a song I had worked out a verse and chorus riff that seemed to go along. And this is how it was all inspired.

I had listened to Michael Schenker’s 1982 release of “Assault Attack” a lot in the years prior and especially liked the intro to the title song and wanted to do something of similar impact. Add in a little snappy Iron Maiden touch and a snippet of “Crazy train”. The intro I came up with in my bedroom, wasn’t changed a whole lot. But, working through it with Flint and Rob created some timing/accents to be changed. This threw off the riff into an offbeat syncopation. At verses, we took the end of the intro and made it the turnaround transition that was inserted in between each verse line.

By doing that off-beat transition, it flipped the snare hit from beat (2/4) to beat be on (1/3) virtually, if you stay on the perfect count. Anyways, most importantly is that song was worked on with Rob, Flint, and myself (music, riffs, beats). And as always Tim would sit and listen and gives a nod of approval when we got something good that fits, or make suggestions for a change to align with what he is thinking of lyrically. At the pre-solo, solo, and outro I knew everything I wanted to do, I had practiced it many times and was well prepared to record. When it came time to make a solo section Rob suggested we slow it down, and give it a more of a feel like the song “Cirith Ungol”. So, it is similar but not exactly like it. That pick scrape seemed to go on forever. I must say the solos have a sort of Randy Rhoads and George Lynch feel to them. I had played a lot of Dokken and Ozzy songs in previous years, with cover bands, and it may have worn off on me. Originality and feeling are what I was going for, it came from within my soul and it seemed natural and I just went for it, playing along with the rhythm melody.

Rob and I had spent a few nights with the tape machine recording all of the solos, plotting it out, and trying out double-tracking dual leads as Jerry had done in the past. We ended up liking how it turned out on the demo, and I made sure to replicate it in the studio the best I could. The solos were double-tracked. The producer Ron Goudie said to me after the first solos were done, “We’re all good, OK, we’re done with that song”. I said, “No I still have to double track it”. He said “I don’t know if you can pull it off.” I insisted. “Set me up another track and I’ll prove it”. I knew the solo well enough by then. So, we recorded the second solo fairly quickly, as dinner time was approaching in a couple of hours and we wanted to get out of the studio for the day. One, maybe two passes, and it was done. The coolest part is the outro solo. I had that already worked that out long before the studio on our demo work and at home. So, it was a “piece of cake”. And the ending whammy dive and pull up with the second lead screaming. A cool way to end the song!

Jim Barraza and Robert Garven

2. The Troll

“Monster from beneath, bastard of grief

Such a sad sigh, does he wanna die?

In a mind of fear, the troll lives in my mind”

Jim: A Joe Malatesta’s song. Well, I learned it and provided 2nd rhythm guitar and harmony leads. It’s an unorthodox song structure with quirky riffs/leads and “and who knows what scale”. Eventually, we all got it down tight as a band. I like it when I hear it nowadays.

Rob: This was one of the songs we added to the album to be inclusive of our new stand in guitarist Joe. After the band got back together in 2016, we were practicing at our old digs Goldmine Studios in Ventura, and we heard a band playing “The Troll” in a nearby building. We went over there and met the group, and they told us they had played with Joe back in the day and swore that they were the ones that originally wrote that song. Who knows the real truth is…

3. Fire

“I am the god of hellfire and I’ll bring you… fire!”

Rob: The band never did a cover song before on an album, and Tim suggested we added one to “Paradise Lost”. We couldn’t have picked a better song, as this was a band favorite back in the day. And with so many of our songs with the word “Fire” in them, this really fits “Cirith Ungol” like a glove! We hope someday to meet Arthur Brown at one of the festivals we play.

Jim: Rob one day just told me to learn “Fire” by Author Brown, as he wanted to have that song be the one and only cover song for Cirith Ungol to do. And that it could possibly go on the Paradise lost album. I learned it, sort of just quickly interpreted it, and then we started jamming it out.

4. Heaven help us

“The fact is without a doubt,
Our time is running out,
Heaven help us…”

Rob: This was a song the bass player Bob brought when he joined the band after Flint left. (See my comments above about these three songs.)

Jim: A song that was written by Bob Warrenburg. It is definitely a song that struck me as being influenced by Iron Maiden. A song about man destroying himself, his own planet, and everything on it. It actually becomes more and more relevant as time passes. In today’s times even more so. I did the first half of the main solo. And Joe ended the second half with the wah effect.

5. Before the lash

“Iron dreams of human jackals and our final fate is cast
To slave in endless fire as you cringe before the lash”

Jim: I never hear anyone talk about this song. It’s like it’s ignored, not well-liked, or labeled as a filler. When I joined the band, there was this song that was already in process. I believe it was already worked out by Jerry and Tim had the name and lyrics worked out for it. I remember him playing the main riff to this song the one time I went to practice with him. There must have been some crude recording already and I listened and learned from it and we just dove into it, finished the song by structuring and adding solos, etc. There may be some slight elements we changed in the chord structure. And the solo section was created last. It has some breaks we had to work out. Solos are pretty good in my opinion. I believe it’s the only song that Jerry had left any kind of starting point or remnants. Well, actually there is one other, “Chaos rising”.

Rob: This was a fascinating song that gets overlooked even by us, and perfectly fits the “Cirith Ungol” mold! I especially like the solo break portion, which gives me a chance to play some cool drum parts, and the CODA section which has Tim sharing some demonical laughter.

Jeff Cowan at Goldmine Studios

6. Go it alone

“I was born with a six string in my hand
I’ll follow the dream to the end
I’ll go it alone…”

Rob: This was a song Jimmy brought with him from his previous band “Prophecy”. This song would have been a better fit for any of the bands around LA at the time, but it did not really fit our style. (See my comments above about these three songs.)

Jim: There is a lot about this song that I could talk about, but I don’t want to bore you with trivial details. Basically, I worked out the rhythms back around 1984. I have early cassette recordings, sitting in my bedroom trying different chord progressions and this one stuck. For whatever reason, the initial motivation was that I had wanted to write a commercial, radio-friendly rock song. A similar version was recorded by a band I jammed with back in Missouri. Anyways, when I came to California in 1985/86, I eventually joined a local Ventura band called Prophecy. When we started to write new songs, I played the chord progression and the guys were like “yeah let’s see what we can do with it”, so we recorded a demo with no vocals. Scott Campbell takes the tape home and in a matter of 4 days max he gives me a tape back. He had named the song “Go it alone” and had dubbed his vocals using a 4-track cassette recorder.
It was done and nothing changed from that point on, although there are quite a few demo versions of it, they are all similar. Fast forward some years later, I guess needing one more song to fill the Paradise lost album, it was chosen. Our initial idea was to make it heavier than it was. We sort of did that, but it’s still a Bon Jovi/Van Halen type of radio rock/hair metal song. It is known as the worst Cirith Ungol song ever, which is pretty seriously un-cool. And ironic because it’s not even a Cirith Ungol song…

7. Chaos rising

“The doomed one’s fallen armies sound the tolling of the bell
While sin and death stand silent guard outside the Gates of Hell”

Rob: Now we are getting to the meat of the album! The trilogy is the epic main course of this album and I think they are the best this album has to offer and they stand head and shoulders with the best of our other work. Bob sang on the intro which gives it a different flavor. Some amazing guitar work by Jimmy, fantastic vocals as always by Tim, and the faster parts let me show off some double bass drum parts! I really think Bob played some outstanding bass parts on this song as with the other two! And of course, Chaos “IS” rising!

8. Fallen idols

“Broken leaders mark the twisted path that mankind chose
Final judgement is upon us, vengeance rains its fearful blows”

Rob: This probably could be called a ballad, and is an impressive song especially played live. It is powerful and I always enjoyed playing it. “Part II” of Tim’s epic trilogy, which gives a methodical break between the two up tempo songs! Jimmy’s tasty lead solo really stands out here! Also, the soaring guitar and ending on this song is epic!

Robert Garven

9. Paradise lost

“Underneath the new born sun
Man and beast rejoice as one
They cast aside their age-old kings
Smash their chains and spread their wings”

Rob: This song is still on our set list and is a massive tour de force! It has everything checked on the list for a “Cirith Ungol” song; screaming vocals, haunting melodies, pounding bass & drums, crazy rhythm changes, insane solo, powerful beginning and ending!! I especially like a part that was cut out of this original recording, there is even a picture of me with the 2” tape parts I loved draped over me. Because the way Ron wanted us to record the album, none of the other members were in the studio when each member were playing their parts and someone (not me) counted wrong, and there was not enough time for Tim’s singing, so this my favorite section, had to be cut out. It was the second bar of the heavy chugging after the solo, and live we used that part to really get into a heavy groove! Luckily, it has been added back to the song live!

Ron Goudie and Jeff Cowan at Goldmine Studio

 

 

CIRITH UNGOL: Tales of a “Paradise Lost” — the 30th anniversary

 

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