Former Death/Iced Earth/Control Denied drummer Richard Christy has been busy the last few years fulfilling a dream as the sidekick to satellite radio shock jock & funneyman Howard Stern, which has left him little time to partake in his other passion, heavy metal drumming. Well, an opening came, and Christy has put together this very lethal band called Charred Walls of the Damned. Along for the ride here is vocal demon Tim 'Ripper' Owens (ex-Judas Priest/ex-Iced Earth/Beyond Fear/Yngwie Malmsteen), producer/guitarist Jason Suecof, and bass legend Steve DiGiorgio (Death/Testament/Iced Earth/Sadus/Control Denied). Charred Walls of the Damned quickly created a buzz about their debut album, and Metal Blade Records signed them up for this self titled release.
Not sure whose idea it was regarding the crappy digpack cover design, but once you get past that initial disappointment, the music contained in this CD is top notch heavy metal. Part thrash, part old school metal, some NWOBHM, some power metal...you get the picture, just quality music that doesn't try to fit into any modern trends or pretend it's something it's not. Christy shows why he's a drummer that's been missed on the scene, as his rapid fire and intricate stick work are all over these nine songs, reminding us of just how good he sounded on those late Death & Control Denied records. DiGiorgio's nimble fretless bass lines are in fine form as well, but the real surprise here is the supreme guitar talents of Suecof. Honestly, other than hearing his name as a producer, I had no idea the guy could shred like this. His layers of massive riffage and neo-classical solos abound throughout, especally on cranking numbers like "Blood on Wood", "Ghost Town", "Manifestations", and the complete mind cruncher "The Darkest Eyes".
Now, on to Mr. Owens...honestly, this guy is one of the best metal singers out there, and he's right at home here, delivering what could be his best vocal performance ever. In many aspects, he steals the show on this CD, unleashing the fury that we all really wanted to hear from him on the recent Malmsteen album, and to an extent even his time with Iced Earth. Hearing his deep mid range and wailing screams on "Fear in the Sky" will send shivers up and down your spine.
The end result is very much a 'band' effort, though the inclusion of Ripper on vocals is what takes this project into the stratosphere. Metal fans are going to be salivating at the thought of this act taking this on the road, but Christy is going to first have to decide if he can put his career as a joke man on hold for a bit while he 'gets his metal out' so to speak. Drawbacks? Well, the CD is kind of short at barely 35 minutes, and to repeat, the cover art is really cheesy, but other than that, this thing cooks from start to finish.
Frighteningly good stuff, and a 'super group' that really is super!
1. "Ghost Town" 4:56
2. "From the Abyss" 4:25
3. "Creating Our Machine" 2:53
4. "Blood on Wood" 3:26
5. "In a World So Cruel" 3:31
6. "Manifestations" 3:06
7. "Voices Within the Walls" 3:48
8. "The Darkest Eyes" 3:37
9. "Fear in the Sky" 5:42