Not to discredit the opening tracks, but it takes three songs for this album to feel like it’s going anywhere. It’s not until “Zerospan” that you get a charge of energy and all the elements of the music seem to be working together. I won’t waste much time talking about this track since we covered it back when it was teased.
“Lead the Way” is one of those songs that seems to build in intensity as it trucks along, even if it becomes incendiary early on. This track features the near-requisite power metal guitar intro that represents the calm before the storm. Christy’s drums kick in and the melody gets jerked around for about a minute before Owens comes in on vocals, delivering lyrics about being in pain and asking to be led to a peaceful existence on the other side (i.e., suicide, maybe). His vocal phrasing on “Lead the Way” is pretty standard for Ripper, but it does seem more pronounced. Christy keeps a pretty constant and steady pace that’s fairly fervent, but ultimately lacks creativity. Bass and guitars largely take a backseat on this track, but fuck if it isn’t fun to listen to.
Aside from “Forever Marching On,” which has a bass guitar intro, “Guiding Me” might have more bass presence than any other track on Cold Winds on Timeless Days. However, it’s more of the thumping, time-keeping variety than anything else, except at about the 3:25 mark, where DiGiorgio starts playing a Korn-style slap bass. From the start of this track, with the quiet guitar, subtle bass, and ambiance-setting cymbals, you know that the underlying madness in this number will be controlled. Owens shows incredible restraint as he refrains from to many over-the-top shrieks, enabling his vocals and the music to blur together in parts. Suecof even gets a dancing guitar solo, but nothing too overpowering. It’s a tight song that’s been tamed (no doubt it could have exploded into a metal frenzy on several occasions), which perfectly suits the lyrical theme of sadness/violence/madness (demons) being controlled with drug therapy.
Eight tracks in and we finally get to an extended acoustic intro that fools you into thinking that there’s actually an instrumental on the album. The Zeppelin-esque intro of “The Beast Outside My Window” gives way to an cacophony of drums, bass, and electric guitars at about the 1:30 mark (and it’s riveting), and Owens doesn’t break in until 2:13. Once everything is underway, “The Beast” is a balls-out power metal track that demands to be heard. (Hint: Play the fucker loud. The blast beats will thank you for it.)
“Avoid the Light,” the final song on Cold Winds on Timeless Days, is arguably the album’s best track (aren’t you supposed to put the best songs up front?). Again, well-placed blast beats, some more slap bass, nothing spectacular on guitar but used effectively, and great vocal melody during the chorus.
[rating:2] I wanted this album to be so much more than it was and I kind of feel like Christy was simply delivering more of what the fans asked for. Charred Walls of the Damned didn’t try to go above and beyond, but rather toed the line. It is, however, a technical work of art with plenty to listen to from a musician’s perspective. While it gets hard to dislike Christy’s superb drumming, Ripper Owens’ vocals are piercing and shrill and can grow tiresome.