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CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED – Charred Walls of the Damned

Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned (2010, Metal Blade Records)

CD
1. “Ghost Town” … 4:56
2. “From the Abyss” … 4:26
3. “Creating Our Machine” … 2:53
4. “Blood on Wood” … 3:26
5. “In a World So Cruel” … 3:31
6. “Manifestations” … 3:07
7. “Voices Within Walls” … 3:49
8. “The Darkest Eyes” … 3:37
9. “Fear in the Sky” … 5:43

Bonus DVD
The Making of Charred Walls of the Damned

Band:
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Vocals
Jason Suecof – Guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – Bass
Richard Christy – Drums

Producer: Jason Suecof

Charred Walls of the Damned are a heavy metal “super group” formed by drummer Richard Christy (Death, Iced Earth) featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Beyond Fear, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen) on vocals. The band also includes guitarist Jason Suecof (who is in a death metal band called Capharnaum and has produced tons of modern metal acts like Trivium, All That Remains, Black Dahlia Murder) and bassist Steve DiGiorgio (who has played for Death, Testament, Iced Earth and Sebastian Bach of all people!). Of these names, all I recognized was Ripper but further research makes me realize I do know who Richard Christy is– that weird guy from Howard Stern.

I don’t like death metal or most modern metal, I barely pay attention to thrash and Iced Earth isn’t a favorite of mine. My friend texted me and told me I needed to check out this band, but going by the modern-sounding name of the band, I just kind of blew it off. He’s into modern and heavier stuff than I am so I just figured it was one of his types of bands. The next day, out of boredom and remembering that he recommended Cold and Puddle of Mudd to me all those years ago, I looked them up on MySpace and was pleasantly surprised to find out Ripper was on vocals and that “Ghost Town” was actually a pretty good song even if it took me a few listens to warm up to it.

I guess I would describe this band as a combination of traditional heavy metal, power metal, speed metal and thrash metal. I’ve seen other reviews stating that there’s a touch of death metal as well, but it never comes off as that brutal and heavy to my ears. There’s definitely a modern edge to the songs though, not in a mainstream way, but it keeps up with those types of metal bands that Jason Suecof has produced. This isn’t surprising considering Suecof produced this album as well.

I picked this album up for $10 at FYE and it was well worth the investment. They seemed to be pushing metal bands pretty hard these days, most new metal releases have a $9.99 sale tag on them. There’s even a section devoted to these sale items. I’m glad my friend alerted me of this band otherwise even if I saw the album in store, I probably would made assumptions based on the name and album art alone and never picked it up. If you’re a fan of any of these musicians or any of the bands they’ve been involved with, there’s something here for to enjoy. The album isn’t a home run but it’s a good effort and a lot better than last year solo Ripper effort Play My Game. I’m not sure whether this is a one-off deal or what, but I’d be interested in hearing more original material from this band.

Yes, the cover sucks. It’s way too dingy and dark and you can barely make out that there are supposed to be SHADOWS on the (charred?) walls.

This edition features a ‘making of’ DVD that I haven’t bothered to watch yet.

Highlights: “Ghost Town”, “From The Abyss”, “Blood On Wood”, “In A World So Cruel”, “Voices Within The Walls”

http://www.myspace.com/charredwallsofthedamned

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Most Disappointing Albums of 2009

Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot

I’m surprised this album is showing up on so many “best of 2009” lists because upon its release, I didn’t see a lot of glowing reviews. In some ways, this album is exactly what I expected — a competent yet lifeless release. Not that anyone believed him, but Sammy did the band no favors by claiming Chickenfoot was creating music as good as or better than Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. Perhaps he was referring to Van Halen III. Because, yeah, I’ll give him that — this album is better than Van Halen III. These guys are are professionals and rock legends and I think its great the album has gone gold, but it just didn’t gel for me. I didn’t hear any magic or chemistry. I’m thinking maybe Satriani is the problem and that the band needed someone who had a more loose, rock ‘n’ roll style.

Bon Jovi – The Circle

Okay, so I guess I shouldn’t have been disappointed because the last two Bon Jovi albums have been really lame, but I always hold out hope for these guys considering they’ve one of my favorite bands of all time. The fact that Jon was touting The Circle as a “big rock record” and a return to form really got my hopes up. In one interview, he even likened the album to the band’s ’80s stuff. Um, okay, Jon, what are you listening to because you definitely weren’t spinning New Jersey or Slippery When Wet when trying to get inspired for The Circle. You’ve lost it, man. You can’t write a catchy hard rock stadium anthem to save your life, can you? Richie’s lost it too and I’m starting to think so has Desmond Child.

Tim Ripper Owens – Play My Game

I debated whether to consider this “disappointing” or not but what the heck — it isn’t bad, but it isn’t what I hoped for either. Considering the talent involved, this should’ve been much better and in the long run, there just weren’t many memorable songs (trying to sound too modern) and I don’t think Owens’ voice was properly utilized.

The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off

The Last Vegas is a shining example of the future of rock ‘n’ roll being strong but this release was just plain lazy with six of the eleven songs released just one year prior on the band’s self-released album. The songs are good and I can understand the band wanting to show off some of their best self-released work once getting signed to a label but did they really need to eat up half the album to do that?

Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know

How could this be? The Devil You Know landed at #9 on my Top 10 of 2009 list! Yes, but given that this is the same band that released Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules and Dehumanizer as Black Sabbath, I couldn’t help but think this album was way too slow and not heavy enough. It’s a respectable effort but doesn’t come close to previous works.

Recent purchases

Man, I’ve been on a roll lately with buying music. And I’m not talkin’ iTunes. Nossir! I’m talking about that silver shiny disc that comes in a square plastic case with a little booklet that contains lyrics and artwork and band pics.

I don’t know, I just don’t get the rush of “HEY! NEW MUSIC!” when I think of downloading an album (even if they are usually a few bucks cheaper on iTunes) as compared to going out and finding a physical copy. I’m only 27, you’d think I would be embracing the iTunes era like all the other teens and 20 somethings, but I’m not.

Granted, I mostly have to use the internet to do my CD shopping anyway because Best Buy, Walmart, Target and FYE aren’t really cutting it when it comes to the music *I* want to hear…

Here’s what I’ve ordered in the last few days:

Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
Mercyful Fate – Melissa/In the Beginning
Saxon – Into the Labyrinth
The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Play My Game
Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock-N-Roll
Freakshow – s/t
Wildstreet – s/t

I should be getting the Lizzy & MF albums by Friday or Saturday and the rest should appear by the end of next week. Obviously, reviews will be coming once I feel I’ve gotten a good enough handle on the albums and man, is that list of “albums to review” still gigantic! I’ve got plenty of material even if I don’t receive/buy any new albums for the rest of the year.

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