Charred Walls of the Damned – Creatures Walking Over the Dead (Metal Blade)

Monday, 19th September 2016
Rating: 9/10

Keeping up with the five-word CWotD theme of their previous two albums, Charred Walls of the Damned return after a five-year absence for Creatures Walking Over the Dead. Followers know the quartet’s main outside engagements- drummer Richard Christy works for the Howard Stern show, guitarist Jason Suecof runs Audiohammer Studios, bassist Steve DiGiorgio plays in Testament, and singer Tim Owens has a solo career – so these musicians appreciate the tight time management windows necessary to get quality output in a finite period.

Allowing every musician to shine under the power/thrash umbrella that is the crux of the band’s style, you get nine extremely focused songs which are as heavy and varied as they are musically exhilarating. Each successive playback gives the listener something new to key in on should they choose to separate specific performances – be it the mid-tempo drum rolls that dominate “My Eyes”, the progressive bass signaling closer “Time Has Passed” or the blitzkrieg extreme metal riffing against the high pitch melodies of “The Soulless”. Learning a lot from his Iced Earth era, Richard knows how to set different moods and tones to the record – “Afterlife” a moody 2:53 piece that contains acoustic, ballad-ish segments against some killer electric riffing and fluid, arpeggio burning breaks, while “Living in the Shadow of Yesterday” possesses a commercial sheen that reaches back into his early love for Stryper and Banshee as he pounds out thrilling double bass and tribal-oriented grooves.

Sounding natural in a digital world can be hard to pull off – Charred Walls of the Damned appears to balance out the tools of today with the precision and power that is necessary to be taken seriously. That comes down to preparation, practice, and trust. The fast-paced world we live in can handle 33-minute records better than hour-long meandering, so if you love power metal, thrash metal, extreme facets, or anything these four musicians have delivered over their decades in the business, Creatures Walking Over the Dead will awaken zombies and delight humans swiftly.

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