Released: 2011, Metal Blade
COLD WINDS ON TIMELESS DAYS is album number two for Howard Stern sidekick and drummer Richard Christy and his band of metal warriors. The minimalist album cover deceptively hides the complexity of the music within. Clocking in at nearly an hour, this one is a little less than double the length of the self-titled debut. Returning to the fold is the eternal journeyman, Tim “Ripper” Owens on vocals, renowned producer Jason Suecof on guitar, and Steve DiGiorgio on bass. Released on Metal Blade records, and penned entirely by Christy, the new album is one that the metal community has awaited with interest, considering the mixed reviews of the first album
Comparatively, the band has not significantly altered their sound from the debut, but they have toned the thrash down a bit, and incorporated more power metal and traditional metal elements with modern stylings. Opening track “Timeless Days” is a microcosm of the entire album, employing deft tempo and stylistic changes delivered with technical precision. Ripper Owens, naturally, is one of the highlights, a man whose range never seems to fade and whose vocal melodies seem to be improving with age. “Cold Winds” covers his entire range, from the lower registers to the dog whistle highs, backed by melodic and pulverizing music from the band. Speaking of pulverizing, the guitar work of Suecof is astonishing. I never knew the man was such a kick ass guitar player, but from convoluted tremolo riffs, to haunting melodic passages and solos he is in full stride. Not to be outdone, Christy has quite expectedly pushed his drumming up in the mix, but that is ok because he is on fire. DiGiorgio easily keeps up, but the bass feels almost absent and is certainly not a stand out part of the album
Perplexingly, every song on here is enjoyable, but I was hard pressed to remember a single, one even on repeated listens. Part of that is the diverse range of styles within each song, and part a sort of sameness quality to each song. Another minor quibble is the excessive kick drumming, which could and should have been reigned in. One of the knocks that CWOTD takes from many critics is that the songs are built on generic riffs briefly punctuated by occasional memorable pieces and Owens wails. While there is some truth to this, I think that this is unfair. Great bands like Nevermore got by for years on repeating the same dull detuned riffs because they had a fantastic singer and brilliant melodic sections. On a technical level, CWOTHD are an outstanding band also gifted with an amazing singer. This is modern American power metal, more reminiscent of Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards than the debut. Production quality is also top notch. Despite that I cannot remember any of the song titles, I find myself playing it repeatedly, just in awe of the effort that Owens continues to summon while never achieving any kind of career breakthrough. Definitely an album that improves upon repeated listens, unquestionably one of the better metal albums of 2011. Recommended for fans of Iced Earth & Demons & Wizards.