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Charred Walls Of The Damned - "Cold Wind On Timeless Days" (CD)

Charred Walls Of The Damned - "Cold Wind On Timeless Days" CD cover image

"Cold Wind On Timeless Days" track listing:

1. Timeless Days
2. Ashes Falling Upon Us
3. Zerospan
4. Cold Winds
5. Lead the Way
6. Forever Marching On
7. Guiding Me
8. The Beast Outside My Window
9. On Unclean Ground
10. Bloodworm
11. Admire the Heroes
12. Avoid the Light

Reviewed by on September 27, 2011

"...the new melodic angle for Christy and the band on 'Cold Winds and Timeless Days' needs some time to get rounded out before these four soldiers become one army."

When reviewing Charred walls of the Damned’s debut full-length (read it here) I summed up the album thusly: “Fantastic metal from the most unknown all-star band in recent memory.” Charred Walls of the Damned has gotten some extra publicity in the year-and-a-half since the self-titled debut was released, so the band is hopefully better known now, and the music itself remains phenomenal.

This is exactly what you’d expect from veterans Richard Christy, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Steve DiGiorgio, and Jason Suecof. The trad metal here is heavy, well played, and well-arranged. “Zerospan” is the clear standout, as it pleasingly flips the build-and-recede arc to a straight and subtle descent. Starting as a blaster with Christy’s Bruce-Lee-double-kicks, “Zerospan” is a long fade from the get go, with the choruses deliberately toned down instead of trumped up. “Cold Winds” is a shorter, melodic caress to the ear hole; Owens’ vocals take on Halford-light grandeur while DiGiorgio’s bass shakes its sinister hips underneath. Which is exactly what you would expect, as the press materials say that Christy – the main songwriter – worked “to give fans more music this time around.” While the debut album was a very precisely executed riff-sing-drum affair, “Cold Winds on Timeless Days” has Suecof pulling out his hero guitar and wailing away. Every verse has a layer of melody from the guitar complementing the vocals and longer solos flow like blood turned to wine.

But here is the drawback to “Cold Winds on Timeless Days” – the album doesn’t get high enough. Songs build through anthemic passages and trad metal crescendos, but we never get a chorus that sings along like Maiden or a solo that blows brains and fits like a glove like from Mustaine. Suecof’s solos are good, but clearly take their proper place within the arrangement, and Owens’ vocals plant the seed, but never quite inspire us to charge the enemy. Take “On Unclean Ground,” which has good solos, but they could have been in most of the songs, and Owens doesn’t push the melody past what he sets up in the initial go-around of the tune. Christy’s drums are fast and precise, but take center stage when the going gets tough instead of supporting the rest of the fellows. The same goes for DiGiorgio’s bass – “The Beast Outside My Window” starts as an alluring acoustic lullaby and has potential to get to a Blind Guardian style long build, but that is interrupted by a big guitar chord, and from there Christy’s blast-beating drums and DiGiorgio’s lockstep bass trample any hope for flow, despite Owens’ (ultimately misplaced) layered backing vocals.

Trad metal is truly great when multiple pieces are working in concert, but Christy wrote four distinct parts for four distinct musicians, and they rarely get together to become a greater whole. For Charred Walls of the Damned’s debut album I also commented that the music was better than most new bands making trendy metal, and that is still largely true. Listening to these four metal warriors beat enemies into submission is still a good time, but the new melodic angle for Christy and the band on “Cold Winds and Timeless Days” needs some time to get rounded out before these four soldiers become one army.

Highs: Christy’s drumming is as tight as ever – see “The Beast Outside My Window” for a prime example.

Lows: The four players don’t fit together – see “The Beast Outside My Window” for a prime example.

Bottom line: Metal veterans continue to play good metal, but must work together to make it great.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)