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Fucking Awesome Line-ups, Volume 1 - 82%

Twisted_Psychology, February 17th, 2010

Many metalheads were shocked when Death/Iced Earth drummer Richard Christy put his music career on hold and joined the staff of the famous DJ Howard Stern. About as many were surprised when it was announced that Christy would be returning to the metal scene with an entirely new project featuring vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens, bassist Steve DiGiorgio, guitarist Jason Suecof, and himself on drums. As if that wasn't enough to get people interested, it was also announced that the project would feature songs entirely written by Christy. Needless to say, the results are pretty intriguing...

As expected with the musicians that are on board for this project, Charred Walls of the Damned plays a style of dark power metal that kinda sounds like a cross between Iced Earth and Control Denied. Ripper makes frequent use of his signature wails, the drums are packed with plenty of double bass and active beats, the guitars churn out complex melodies and solid chugs, and DiGiorgio manages to stand out several times with his signature fretless bass lines. There also be seems to be influence from death metal in some spots with "Ghost Town" standing out in particular with its slightly cluttered intro.

The songs are decently constructed and have a good amount of variation. While most of the songs seem to be routed around mid-tempos and chugged riffs, there are some exceptions. "Blood on Wood" and "Manifestations" are probably the most energetic song on the album with its upbeat tempos, "From the Abyss" and "In a World so Cruel" bring in a lighter atmosphere, and "Creating the Machine" and "Voices Within the Walls" are particularly technical songs.

While there are plenty of good moments to be found on this album, I must admit to feeling somewhat let down by the material at hand. The performances are great and all but the songwriting doesn't seem to be as developed as it could be. There are several times when I wish for more memorable hooks and song structures, faster tempos, and direct guitar riffs that are more direct. That and the 35 minute duration seems to be rather short despite nine songs being an ideal tracklisting...

In a way, this project is a lot like Beyond Fear's debut album and last year's "Play My Game." The performances are all great but the songwriting doesn't seem to do as much justice to the hype that was set up for this comeback. It's definitely good for a debut album and there is potential to be found but there are still some things that need to be developed on future efforts. Maybe I just need to go through it a few more times...

Pros:
1) Great performances from an amazing line-up
2) Good production
3) A few great songs

Cons:
1) Songwriting isn't as developed as it could be
2) A seemingly too short duration
3) Doesn't completely live up to the hype

My Current Favorites:
"Ghost Town," "From the Abyss," "Blood on Wood," "In A World So Cruel," and "Manifestations"