Charred Walls of the Damned Kicks off Tour Well in Chicago
Band Photo: Judas Priest (?)
The biggest oddity of Charred Walls of the Damned’s first tour is they are playing smaller venues – bars and small theaters and the like. With the amount of experience and reputation this supergroup has (although admittedly half of the studio members aren’t on the road), it seems like they should be playing arenas and ampitheaters, or at least opening for big name headliners.
But as it stands, Charred Walls of the Damned kicked off their first ever tour in Chicago at the Empty Bottle. The Empty Bottle is the type of old school dive where the air feels sticky, not to mention the restroom floors. Thus, it is perfect for an old school traditional metal show. And suffice it to say there wasn’t anyone in the crowd that became a metal fan after hearing “Nothing Else Matters” in high school, and nobody was rocking the latest Hot Topic sampler on the way to the show either. The folks here were all metal-for-life types, even the young ones.
The opening act wasn’t a band but comedian Don Jamieson. He has a show on VH1 Classic, and is similar to Brian Posehn, mostly because he is both a stand-up comedian and metal fan. His jokes were well designed, somewhat raunchy and somewhat offensive, but always swirling around metal and using metal as the butt or a reference – jokes about Tommy Lee’s manhood and Poison’s feminine looks and the like were well received by all. Most importantly he got the crowd in a fun mood, primed and ready to rock.
Charred Walls of the Damned play some damn heavy music, but the show itself had more of a garage hang-out vibe than a formal show. Tim “Ripper” Owens (vocals) and Richard Christy (drums) had a good repartee the entire evening, and they made it seem like the crowd was in on the jokes. Owens also was not shy about giving the crowd friendly crap which was also received in good humor.
The music itself was intense and unrelenting. Charred Walls of the Damned play a death/traditional mix, with slight tremolo and blast beats snaking their way through the anthemic leads and Owens’ distinct wail. Supporting Christy and Owens were guitarists John Comprix (Beyond Fear, Ringworm) and Matt Sorg (Ringworm), and bassist Ed Stephens (Shock Paris). These guys were tight, efficient and quite capable. Stephens was particularly on point with his bass, delivering a shuddering roll underneath the Charred Walls of the Damned riffs, and even gave a rousing cover of Cliff Burton’s “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” toward the end of the evening.
But Christy and Owens were easily the focal point of the show, which is not too surprising. The three string-benders were loathe to stray away from Christy’s commanding rhythms; Owens commandeered the small venue like he used to do at 10,000-person arenas. This music was clearly written for Ripper specifically, not for Rob Halford or Matt Barlow or anyone else, and it fits his distinctive wail like a small glove on a large man. Owens’ tore open verses like a possessed banshee, giving each set of riffs and percussion its morningstar-beaten heft.
After the show was over, the oddity of venue size became even more apparent. Veteran and very accomplished metal players pounding out heavy and catchy songs should get every metal fan’s heart all a-flutter. If Owens was good enough for Judas Priest, Christy good enough for the myriad bands he’s played in (Death, Iced Earth, Control Denied, others), and Comprix, Stephens and Sorg good enough to stand in for Steve DiGiorgio and Jason Seucof, then they are good enough for us. And ultimately they weren’t just good enough, they were great.
You can catch Charred Walls of the Damned at the following stops on their current tour:
July 2 – Detroit, MI, Harpo’s Concert Theater
July 3 – Montreal, QC, Les Foufounes Électriques
July 4 – Toronto, ON, Opera House
July 6 – Cleveland, OH, Peabody’s Downunder
July 7 – Pittsburgh, PA, Diesel
July 8 – New York, NY, The Gramercy Theater
July 9 – West Chester, PA, The Note
July 10 – Worcester, MA, The Palladium
Charred Walls of the Damned Set List
1. Blood On Wood
2. From The Abyss
3. Scream Machine (Beyond Fear)
4. Creating Our Machine
5. Ghost Town
6. Burn In Hell (Judas Priest)
7. Drum Solo
8. Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden Cover)
9. The Darkest Eyes
10. Territory (Sepultura Cover)
11. In A World So Cruel
12. Starting Over (Tim Owens Solo Song)
13. Fear In The Sky
14. Voices Within the Walls
15. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth (Metallica Cover, bass solo)
16. The Four Horsemen (Metallica Cover)
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