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Charred Walls Of The Damned - "Charred Walls Of The Damned" (CD)

Charred Walls Of The Damned - "Charred Walls Of The Damned" CD cover image

"Charred Walls Of The Damned" track listing:

1. Ghost Town
2. From The Abyss
3. Creating Our Machine
4. Blood on Wood
5. In a World So Cruel
6. Manifestations
7. Voices Within the Walls
8. The Darkest Eyes
9. Fear in the Sky

Reviewed by on February 3, 2010

"The real shame here is that Charred Walls of the Damned has gotten so little mainstream publicity in the run-up to the album’s release."

The founder and drummer of Charred Walls of the Damned, Richard Christy, is better known for his sidekick gig on Howard Stern’s radio show. The singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens, is better known for his time in Judas Priest, among other things. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio is better known for his work across the metal pantheon, with bands including Sadus, Testament, and Death. And guitarist Jason Seucof is better known as one of the hot producers for extreme metal in the States. Put all these guys together in one band and the result is one of the best debut albums in a while; but it is by one of the most unknown all-star metal lineups in a while.

Three of the four members played in Iced Earth at various points (all but Seucof), and that American power metal sound forms the base of Charred Walls of the Damned’s music. The pummeling power chords, burly bass, and pounding drums all combine to form anthemic, fist pumping backgrounds for tense and powerful vocals. Eschewing the European preference for power metal sugar, this music is meaty and filling.

But there is much more than just Iced Earth (and in turn Iron Maiden) rip-offs. All the songs were written solely by Christy, and thus they are single compositions, tight, and focused. Being a drummer, Christy put in plenty of rhythm and tempo dynamics, which takes the music from standard to splendid. Blast beats, tight syncopations, straight counted thunder, and subtle support, Christy lines up the entire band from the back.

“Blood On Wood” may be the best example of Charred Walls of the Damned's prowess. Christy’s drums fly about, seamlessly swapping full death metal onslaughts with power metal poundings. Vocalist Owens holds court with his mid-range bellow as we watch it pierce concrete, while DiGiorgio provides a simultaneous counter punch for every one thrown by Owens. And Seucof adds the incessant guitar chords along with the crisp and distinct production, and a short blast of a sweet solo. Composed, played, and produced by these tested and verified metal veterans, the song is a thrill ride front to back.

Album opener “Ghost Town” starts with a death metal drum rhythm and tremolo riff before downshifting for the verse. Moving to subtly different tempos for verses, choruses, and bridges, the song is driven by the frequent double or half time of Seucof’s guitar mixed with Christy’s kit. “In A World So Cruel” is based on a ballad-style riff, but quickly shifts to a picked chord progression from Seucof and then into a shifting, swirling bridge that is more progressive than anything else. Album closer “Fear In the Sky” packs more dive bombs and fireworks into five minutes than most bands can in ten.

The real shame here is that Charred Walls of the Damned has gotten so little mainstream publicity in the run-up to the album’s release. There really isn’t any good reason to listen to the latest pimple-plated hardcore record or saccharine-stuffed Euro export when these metal veterans are pounding out some of the best metal of this year to date.

Highs: The rhythmic interplay between drums, bass, and guitar makes good songs great.

Lows: Due to Owens’ renown the album sometimes comes off like Priest or Iced Earth, but it is a very small problem.

Bottom line: Fantastic metal from the most unknown all-star band in recent memory.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)