CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED is back with album number three Creatures Watching Over the Dead (out now, Metal Blade Records). Featuring the same well-known lineup as the first two records, this is as metal as metal can get. Richard Christy (drummer, principal songwriter), Jason Suecof (guitar), Steve DiGiorgio (bass), and vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens have crafted something that should appeal to fans of Power Metal, Speed Metal, and all things shred. The album is only about 33 minutes long, so it gets in and out before you can fully comprehend what hit you, which will no doubt have you looking to play the whole thing again.
And that’s the idea. For me, this one didn’t totally hit me on the first listen. But by the almighty third I found myself bobbing my head and air jamming in all the right places, and I’m sure many of you will, too. And to be fair, not all of the songs resonated with me, but that’s OK. Let’s start by talking about the ones that did. And first on that list is “The Soulless.” Everything you could want in your metal tunes is right here: high, wailing vocals, riffs and solos for days, and a groove that shifts gears quicker than one of them-that-there new-fangled 6-speed cars! “Lies” is my number one stunner from this disc. The guitar melody is out of this world, and Suecof and Owens work in complete and total harmony while Christy and DiGiorgio control the tempo of the game.
Another highlight is “Tear Me Down” because it manages to be melodic and heavy at the same time, and the chorus is outstanding. “Living In the Shadow of Yesterday” really showcases the talents in this band, individually as well as collectively, but it is Suecof who truly shines. His playing is otherworldly, and the sound of his guitar is simply magical. What’s funny too, is I was never really a big Ripper fan. I could take it or leave it, but on tracks like these he makes me a believer. On others though, it just feels like we’ve stumbled into the Land of Heard-It-Before, like on opener “My Eyes” and “Reach Into the Light”, two of my least favorite on the whole thing.
“Afterlife” is a slowed-down affair with some acoustic-electric stuff going on while “As I Catch My Breath” mines Operation: Mindcrime-era QUEENSRŸCHE with very good results. If you don’t hear the similarities you’re either a liar or a mental patient. Closer “Time Has Passed” rocks hard, rides free, and kicks ass. The sheer talent of this band, when everything comes together, and the songs are done right, they’re damn near unstoppable. But on a few occasions, they do fall into the metal-cliche territory of bygone days. Luckily, that only happens on a couple of tracks. Creatures Watching Over the Dead still makes for a fun listen, and is certainly worth your time.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Tear Me Down”, “Living In the Shadow of Yesterday”, “Lies”, “The Soulless”, “As I Catch My Breath”