The Age Of Hell
When faced with the loss of a majority of your band, most groups would pack it in. Add to that the idea that your genre is not a predominately appreciated one and the curtain might come down for good. Not so with Chimaira, a band that’s used to revolving line ups and has consistently put out new material despite whatever the surrounding chaos might be. The band’s newest studio offering, The Age Of Hell, has a mix of musicians filling in the holes, though the band itself now features Daath members Sean Zatorsky (keyboards), Emil Werstler (bass) and Bleed The Sky drummer Austin D’Amond. For the fans worried that the mix of new people might lessen what Chimaira does with The Age Of Hell, don’t be, this is still the band you love.
Opening with the mach-5 title track, Chimaira are fast to establish that they’re not done for. Growling the chorus vocalist Mark Hunter’s intensity could be talking about the world in general or the recent hurdles the band has faced down. The production here is crisp and clean, with each instrument blended nicely into one solid mass of sound. Chimaira’s sound takes as much from how industrial comes together as it does metal. Robotic in it’s time, the drums blister and fire through each tune while still holding the ground for the band to do what they do. “Losing My Mind” shows Chimaira slowing their roll a bit, creating a half-time tension that’s quite effective. Sadly they don’t keep it long enough, opting to speed things up quickly rather than let the tension of the slower speed evolve.
“Stoma”, the mid-point instrumental, is one of the most interesting songs on The Age Of Hell. Combining elements of what the band’s famous for with some more noise and experimental aspects gives the album a much-needed kick in the face as it begins to sag in the middle. At only two-minutes long, “Stoma” is still one of the more powerful cuts on the record. “Powerless” is another jam that hits the mark with great success. Here Chimaira lets the slow tension build and then eases into the fast parts rather than exploding into them. “Powerless” also features some nice soundscape elements, something I’ve not heard a lot of within the genre. The only real failure on the record is the ending tune “Samsara” and that’s only because it’s improperly placed. The song caps The Age Of Hell off and saps all the energy from it by the end. Speed is there, riffs are there, but together the song is clumsy and unimportant, not the way to end an otherwise solid album.
In the interest of true transparency, I will fully admit that I am not a Chimaira fan. To me this entire genre of metal is too repetitive to hold my interest for any length of time. It’s not that Chimaira aren’t a good band, far from it, it’s just that they’ve chosen to focus their talents in a very polarized genre. Fast, aggressive, riff-oriented groove metal is awesome for the average teenager or early twenty-something headbanger but for anybody looking for a bit more in their extreme music, this seems entirely too efficient and factory-like to remain interesting. I give Chimaira high marks for what they’ve done with The Age Of Hell, but after the five or six times I listened to it for this review, I’ll never put the record on again. If you’re a fan of Chimaira you’ll be amped, but this won’t win them any new ones.
Internal strife can either kill a band or push it to rise above and deliver for the fans. Chimaira has landed squarely on the latter and done it with a great deal of class. They haven’t abandoned the fans by breaking up, they just hunkered down and wrote something that will be a pulverizing experience for those who love them. Like I said, this genre of metal doesn’t interest me. I understand it, I just don’t care. However, of all the bands involved in it, Chimaira are one of the better and easily one of the most dedicated. The Age Of Hell is some of their best work, so fans rejoice and peers be put on notice, Chimaira isn’t going anywhere.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 6.5/10
FANS RATING 9/10