Charred Walls Of The Damned, who some might refer to as a “supergroup” have delivered their third album albeit after a five year break. Certainly, the collective CV’s of the band members name check some of heavy metal’s finest – Iced Earth, Death Angel, Deicide, Testament and a certain Judas Priest. Band founder, Richard Christy’s mission statement was “I want people to listen to this album, bang their head, and have fun”. “Creatures Watching Over The Dead” represents the fruits of their collaboration despite many busy schedules. Let’s see how successful he is.
The chugging, almost brutal opener of “My Eyes” displays Tim “Ripper” Owens in commanding form. The percussion from Richard Christy is chest pounding with Jason Suecof’s shredding guitar blasting in. There’s no mistake they’ve gone for the fists-raised-in-the-air anthemic song structure. “The Soulless”, with its’ feverish, frenetic thrash is taut and aggressive overlaid with Owens’ ability to stretch across the octave range proving why he fronted Judas Priest for a time and there’s no doubting his commanding presence here. Elements of the NWOBHM descend into a pure thrash orgy that comes as no surprise given the personnel’s’ respective backgrounds. So far, this has been an impressive opening salvo.
There’s hints of post 2000 Iron Maiden on “Afterlife” with plenty of melody and hooks on offer. Owens adopts more of a Ronnie James Dio style delivery on “As I Catch My Breath”, again his other work with Dio Disciples bringing an extra dimension to the party. This is a more dramatic affair that leads into “Lies”, with its’ nu metal tangent that brings to mind Creed before a crank up to a “Load” era Metallica style stomp. There’s not too much in the originality stakes and there is a wiff of predictability but the quality that each band member brings gives it a shine. “Reach Into The Light” is a more punchy number that vocally is very much in the style of Priest’s “Painkiller”. Steve Digiorgio’s bass along with Christy’s drum work create a formidable rhythm section although there are times when the blast beats can give some of the tracks a repetitive feel.
The closing few numbers lack the bite and inspiration of the album’s first half which is a shame given that album duration is under 35 minutes. There is, however some technically impressive guitar work on “Tear Me Down” that is sure to please. The anthemic structure of “Living In The Shadow Of Yesterday” has an American west coast radio accessibility that will surely help garner greater attention. There’s no denying the talent, technicality and experience of the band members but there does tend to be a one dimensional feel that sometimes happens when these collectives come together. Suecof’s production is super clean and he’s allowed the space that ensures the talents of all four of them are on display. Fans of all the associated bands will surely enjoy the album and the merits that everyone brings to the table.
(7/10 Johnny Zed)