Charred Walls of the Damned – “Creatures Watching Over the Dead” (Metal Blade Records)
Heavy, melodic and catchy. Charred Walls of the Damned are probably my favorite modern metal band as they embody these qualities in no small measure. A veritable super group formed by radio personality, actor and drummer Richard Christy, who has previously played with Iced Earth, Death, Control Denied, Burning Inside and Leash Law, Charred Walls of the Damned includes guitarist / producer Jason Suecof, along with stellar veterans Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Testament, Dragonlord and more recently Ephel Duath). Together they produce a sound befitting their impressive legacies and jaw dropping talents. In fact, that’s what so incredible about this band, not just in how these guys all come together but without compromising one iota of their identity – in fact, everyone sounds like they’re all paying on 10! From ‘Ripper’ Owens still astounding vocals, piercing and yet incredibly soulful to Christy’s own heavy power drumming incorporating heaps of double bass drum work, not always speedy but always present showing that the man likes to use both his feet! Less obvious is DiGiorgio’s bass, but look for it and there it is, crunching away when he’s not indulging in technical bass runs. Incredibly underrated among his more renowned peers has to be Jason Suecof, whose guitar talents are immeasurable and attest to why the band saw no need in casting out the net further, from flowing melodies to wild solos and of course, monstrous riffing a plenty!!! While some may point to the gap between releases owing to the members’ other responsibilities – in this case 5 years – I prefer to think that’s time dedicated to song writing and refining material which is exactly what you’ve got on ‘The Soulless’, ‘Time Has Passed’ and ‘Afterlife’, although truth be told all the 9 songs here are terrific. Aggression, power, feeling and technicality – this 3rd album from Charred Walls of the Damned has it all be it in darkness or light.