Charred Walls of the Damned - COLD WINDS ON TIMELESS DAYS

Stand clear, everyone; it's a supergroup! If you're a self-respecting metalhead, you already know the story behind Charred Walls of the Damned. You already know that this traditional, yet progressive quartet mines the talents of human air raid siren Tim "Ripper" Owens (Beyond Fear, ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth), consummate bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, ex-Death, ex-Testament), tractile drummer Richard Christy (ex-Death, ex-Iced Earth, ex-Control Denied, ex-Acheron) and sought-after metalcore producer Jason Suecof (Trivium, All That Remains). Furthermore, you already know that Cold Winds on Timeless Days is their second album. If you weren't privy to any of that information, do yourself a favor and conduct research in the field of Badass Metal. It should be offered as an elective at most Ivy League universities.

Obviously, Jason Suecof is an unknown, and to nearly every "troo" metalhead, his name will be a red flag that inumbrates an otherwise godly line-up. Take it from someone who has listened to both CWOTD albums; Mr. Suecof's affiliation with plebeian Hot Topic bands does not taint this powerful collective. This is a pure-bred pedigree of technical power metal in the same vein as Nevermore, Control Denied, Pharaoh and Communic. The eponymous debut was met with warm praise in 2010. To be honest, I listened to it two or three times before labeling it as a disappointment. It's not bad. Hell, it's not mediocre, but look at the docket of participants. That's a hallowed screed of musicians, and I was expecting an epic slab of uterus-searing metal to spring from my speakers.

Basically, I wanted to be violated. I've enjoyed Cold Winds fifteen times in the past week (conservative estimation), and in my erudite opinion, it blows its predecessor out of the fucking water. This is a mature, dynamic collection of songs that prospers on the strength of layered melodies and masterful craftsmanship. Album opener "Timeless Days" will tell you everything you need to know about this record. Sample it online, but don't download this fucker. The brilliance behind Cold Winds reveals itself over repeated spins, although it's much more immediate than the self-titled long player. Owens seems to explore his range with an assured fortitude that I haven't heard since Iced Earth's The Glorious Burden.

This is easily his best vocal performance to date. Cold Winds probably won't catch his detractors off-balance, but if you've been on the fence as it relates to Ripper (which is where I've been), he just might win you over on tracks such as the soaring "Ashes Falling Upon Us," the catchy-as-fuck "Lead the Way" and the multi-tiered "Zerospan." Richard Christy is my favorite drummer on the planet, so it goes without saying that he kicks mass quantities of ass. Personally, I don't think he'll ever top his work on Death's The Sound of Perseverance, but here, he comes awfully fucking close. I mean, check out the beginning of "Forever Marching on." What the hell is he doing? Is that even a time signature?

There are plenty of sweet leads to mollify the guitar freaks among the metal community. Ideally, Cold Winds on Timeless Days would mollify any person with a CD player. I love it, but I can't give it a perfect rating for two reasons. A) DiGiorgio's bass is too low in the mix. B) As amazing as this album is, I believe that Charred Walls of the Damned is capable of surpassing it. Ergo, I will save my 5-Abbath rating for when they release a follow-up. Don't let me down, boys!

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