40 Years Ago: CIRITH UNGOL release Frost and Fire

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40 Years Ago: CIRITH UNGOL release Frost and Fire

Here's the thing about Frost and Fire: It was never ever supposed to be a record that was released to the public. At that time, every band in the world was making cassettes, and then they would send them out to the record company to try and get a deal. We knew people that worked in these places, and they would just take 'em home, erase 'em and record their own mixes over the tape - or throw 'em in the trash. So, we decided we had to self-finance something to show the industry what we're actually capable of. Make a record, do it ourselves, the whole package, and then shop that around and show what we could do if we really get signed.

Tim Baker / Cirith Ungol interview, 2016

CIRITH UNGOL released Frost and Fire, their debut LP, during this month in 1981. The album was initially released by the band through their own imprint, Liquid Flame Records, 500 copies pressed.

What happened, though, is we ended up signing a distribution deal with an import company called Green World at the time, who we kind of got hooked up with through Brian Slagel, who we knew from before he was doing the Metal Blade label. He used to have a fanzine, and he worked at a record store we used to go down to all the time. Green World decided to turn into an actual record company after that, called Enigma, so we ended up pressing more. I think we started off and maybe made 1,000, or maybe only 500. Then we made another 5,000. I have a couple around here, and you can tell by the numbers on the spine of the record that they're original. But it was never really something for the general public, and that's why it's so much different then the next one, King of the Dead. We wanted to be more of a heavy band, like King of the Dead shows, but we felt like we had to show a cross-section of things that people would do at the time so we could get a record deal, and then we figured we would do all the heavy shit. So, you look at Frost and Fire, there's some heavy stuff on there for the time, and then there's some other more commercial stuff.

...[Frost and Fire] took a while because it was self-financed, so we would have to wait to get studio time and then more money. It probably took maybe a couple weeks altogether, so not that long. We had all the songs, and we had already done them all at our home studio as demos. So, we already knew what they were gonna be, and what the overdubs would be. So, once we were in a real - at that time - 16-track studio, it was already kind of ready to go. It was just a matter of picking the songs and getting 'em done.

Tim Baker / Cirith Ungol interview, 2016

More recently it has been reissued by Metal Blade.

When we started playing heavy music we were bouncing around everyone's house and then my sister got married and we used her room in my parent's house as the band room and we added bits of equipment, we had a four-track machine in the closet and a mixer and we started recording our own music. At the time we started to get serious and sent out cassettes and letters with no response, so we decided to put out our own album, and it had to have good art and be the complete package.

Now, people say that it sounded nothing like 'King of the Dead' but we took everything in our repertoire at the time that we thought was radio friendly because that was what we thought you needed. You know, there were album bands around, like Iron Butterfly, and the DJs on the radio station would put on 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' with 20 minutes left of their show so they could take a break. Every band wanted to get on the radio so what we did was wrote songs that we thought were radio friendly and a local station played two songs from 'Frost and Fire' on a night that was for new music and I remember listening to it thinking we'd hit the big time and the next day they said everyone likes your band but this music is just too heavy and it blew us away. At the time they were playing Sabbath and Deep Purple, so I think it wasn't that it was too heavy it was just too different.

Robert Garven / Cirith Ungol interview, The Razor's Edge, 2020