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Were you torn up inside when vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens confirmed he was no longer a part of Iced Earth? Well, have no worries! Charred Walls Of The Damned are here to remedy this situation with their debut self-titled album. Given the name of the band and the artwork, a Power Metal act is something you wouldn't expect. Perhaps more of a Death Metal or Black Metal band. The name of the group actually comes from drummer Richard Christy, who explained it comes from a series of radio prank calls that were made, ending with the preacher of the radio evangelist shows asking forgiveness for them to avoid the "charred walls of the damned". So, with a rather unfitting name, and every member's past band history linked to one specific act except guitarist Jason Suecof, it's safe to say this band is good, but highly unoriginal at this point.
Let's be blunt, Charred Walls Of The Damned sounds like Iced Earth. Period. There is no denying it. This is mostly because three of the members have served time with that band, with only guitarist Jason Suecof not being in this metal trinity. The only track on here that doesn't quite fit the formula would be the track "Creating Our Machine", which is a much slower ballad-esque track that seems to break formula. Now, this isn't to say the album is horrible because of this. In fact, it's really good. The vocals on here are well performed and nowhere near over the top as far as the higher notes are concerned, coming out a little more controlled but far from restrained. On top of that, the music on here is very well done, and either heavy, catchy, or a combination of both. Take the lead single "Ghost Town" for example, which is a superb track that will stay lodged in your brain for a long while and sets the tone of the album perfectly.
While a good chunk of this album is very impressive and a welcome breath to Power Metal fans, it's only the first half of the album that is really the most impressive. The latter half, after the ballad "In a World So Cruel" is where things start to feel a little more weak and show cracks in the finely polished surface, with "The Darkest Eyes" being the only real treat for listeners. For instance the track "In a World So Cruel", which is a straight out ballad track. The problem with it is that, while the music is actually good, the controlled vocals do come off as restrained, unlike the rest of the material on the album, and don't quite work with the song in general. "Manifestations" is a great track off the release as well, but the drumming at the very end seems a little clumped, as if it was done at the very end for fun or there was some sort of seizure involved. Then there's "Voices Within the Walls" which is just not as memorable a track as anything off the first half of the album. The closer track "Fear in the Sky" is another good track, but doesn't quite deliver the impact it should to close it out as "Ghost Town" had to start everything up.
All in all, with the exception of a few issues towards the end, Charred Walls Of The Damned is a very entertaining album that rides the coat tails of Iced Earth. If you're someone who cannot look past bands that mimick the sound of already established acts, then this is not the release for you. If you can look past it, then you'll be greeted with some impressive tracks that will find this disc collecting very little dust. As time goes on, some of the songs may lose it's luster, but there's plenty on here that will still kick you as hard as they did the first time you put this disc in the player. This self-titled album from Charred Walls Of The Damned is definately worth your time.
Originally posted on Apoch's Metal Review