Charred Walls of the Damned
Creatures Watching Over the Dead

Lets face it, the term super-group has been thrown around haplessly and needlessly an umpteen amount of times in the genres of metal. Though of any band was actually deserved of this title, it would have to be Charred Walls of the Damned. Its members (drummer, Richard Christy, vocalist, Tim “Ripper” Owens, bassist, Steve DiGiorgio, & guitarist, Jason Suecof) having a pedigree list comprised of such acts as Death, Judas Priest, Sadus, Testament, Capharnaum, Iced Earth, and Control Denied is about as impressive as they come, and the fact is that CWotD‘s third full-length release, Creatures Watching Over the Dead, is a beautifully terrific and emotional album. Blending some of the best from the aforementioned bands above, Creatures Watching Over the Dead is an album that achieves a feeling not of rage and/or murderous intent, not of  creating a grave, but rather of positivity, and even a sense of abating a loss or healing an emotional wound. There is an inherent beauty and uplifting feeling within all of the album’s nine tracks. The material is heavy and driving, pulsing with life and brimming with memorability. From the individual instrumentation, to the hook laden verses and choruses, CWOtD gives an assuring, even warm and fuzzy feeling.

From the beginnings of album opener, “My Eyes”, with its short synths opening up into  a beautifully powerful and uplifting melody propelled by Christy’s stunning, driving drumwork , and enhanced by Owens’ vocal acrobatics, to the infectious guitar lines and moving epicness  of the Control Denied influenced work of closer, “Time Has Passed”, CWotD have crafted a compact, streamlined, hook infused, majestic album in Creatures Watching Over the Dead. Whether it’s “The Soulless”, with its furious, even punishing drums and spot on death-thrash and catchy chorus, or “Lies” and the song’s Coheed & Cambria-like beginning giving way to a stirring, anthemic attack of emotional metal beauty. Not only does “Lies” feature some wonderful guitar lead and bass work, the track also gives off an ’80’s rock(ish) vibe underlying everything, especially the last 1\3  of the song, much like Devin Townsend Band can achieve. “Living in the Shadow of Yesterday” showcases more of that Devin Townsend Band influence mixed with Control  Denied in the happy, uplifting, bouncy rhythms. The song is very vocal driven with Owens’ phrasings leading the charge while the guitar leads act as brilliant accentuations over the tight as a gnat’s ass rhythm section. In “Tear Me Down”, we are treated to some more of that driving, catchy, midpaced beauty, that is not only stirring but fun, with a heavy groove. The track takes an emotional shift at the 2:34 mark with some simple yet awesomely effective movements driving the song forward with DiGiorgio working his magic while Suecof’s impressive and stoic lead work shines on top of everything. “Reach the Light” hits a tad bit harder than most of the album’s other tracks. Right from the get go it’s a pounding, pulsing affair, recalling stalwarts Testament, Judas Priest, Death, and Control Denied all within the song’s short two minutes and thirty-nine seconds.

Creatures Watching Over the Dead really is an album that seems to get better with every listen, seemingly latching itself onto your psyche. Like I have stated before, it’s an album that makes you feel good. It satisfies on many different levels, from heavy and provocative drum and bass work, to the crunch and melodic heft of the guitars, and of course the soaring vocals of Owens, who really does put on a shining performance. There is something wonderful and admirable about all of the album’s material, if not even a bit safe to the uninitiated. Creatures Watching Over the Dead is pretty much a midpaced offering and never really cuts loose in a maniacal manner, it admittedly, tends to feel “safe”. Though that isn’t what Charred Walls of the Damned are about. The band doesn’t set its hooks into you with unbridled fury, but with riffs and patterns and melodies and vocals that raise and evoke true feeling and emotions. The only real complaints I had with Creatures Watching Over the Dead were that the continuation of using the band’s acronym, CWOTD, to name the album seems kind of silly. Granted, it was fine for the self-titled debut, and worked well with the follow-up, Cold Winds on Timeless Days, but this time I just don’t get it. Not only does the title not seem to correlate with any of the material, but the album’s cover just doesn’t fit the musical positivity of the tracks within.

Though all in all, Creatures Watching Over the Dead is a great album. I liken it to Iced Earth‘s Horror Show; while it’s obviously metal through and through, it’s an album more about restraint and when to hold back, more than a full steam ahead charge and attack. It’s an album with a bit more class than crass, an album that, as I have stated more than a few times now, simply makes you feel good.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
October 17th, 2016

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