Release date: August 16, 2011
Cleveland metal sextet, Chimaira returns this month with their sixth album, The Age of Hell. The album which was completed back in March was produced by Ben Schigel and mixed by Chris “Zeuss” Harris. The record features a dozen new tracks and a guest appearance by Phil Bozeman (Whitechapel).
You might think when you lose half your band members within a year that things are going downhill for your band. Not so with Chimaira. Accustomed to an ever-changing lineup throughout the years they keep plodding on dutifully, churning out releases amidst all the chaos. The band’s core of Rob Arnold (lead guitar), Matt DeVries (rhythm guitar), and Mark Hunter (vocals) are now joined by Dååth vocalist Sean Zatorsky who will handle keyboards and synth duties. Fellow Dååth member Emil Werstler, who once filled in for Devries on guitar, is now in to cover bass. Bleed The Sky drummer Austin D’Amond who works with Arnold in his side project, The Elite, has signed on as well.
After listening to The Age of Hell once, I had one word to describe it; bone-crushing (okay, one hyphenated word). Now that I’ve listened to it several more times I have a lot more to say about it. I know a lot of fans are probably a little apprehensive about this album due to all the recent lineup changes, but actually neither the new or recently departed members contributed to this album. Ben Schigel, who also produced the album, provided the drum work while Arnold, Devries and Hunter handled the rest.
Frontman Mark Hunter states, “Words can’t express what it took to create this album. We hope you love it as much as we do. Turn it up loud, this is Chimaira at it’s finest.” I think I agree with him. This release features some of their heaviest work to date.
The album kicks off at breakneck speed with the pulverizing title track. While the tempo slows slightly for “Clockwork” it’s no less morrow splintering in its chugging hostility. “Losing My Mind” is one of the album’s heaviest tracks. Like there’s a cement truck on your chest heavy.
“Time Is Running Out,” has that medieval, prepare for battle atmosphere. The feel is weighty and powerful, but the song retains a good amount of melody while bludgeoning your psyche. “Year Of The Snake” is a grip-you-by-the-throat death rattler with a sweet breakdown.
This album has a lot of good shit already and we’re not even halfway through it! “Beyond The Grave” comes in with a slow rolling groove is an extremely dark song with melodic guitar and semi-clean vocals with a few deep growls thrown in occasionally to mix it up. This is what a modern Sabbath might sound like.
“Born In Blood” was pre-released to fans and is an absolute pedal to the floor skull-caving terror featuring Phil Bozeman from Whitechapel. Bozeman’s incredible death growls blend well with Hunter’s harsh vocals to create a raw, destructive masterpiece. The lyrics are dynamic and angry:
Nothing can stop us now.
Strength rising conquer.
Nothing can stop us now.”
Try to keep your head banging to the warp speed tempo of this track and you may very well learn the true meaning of aggravated whiplash. It’s definitely a highlight on the album, even has a decent solo.
The doomy instrumental, “Stoma” arrives just in time for a much needed change of pace and segues nicely into “Powerless”. This track has incredible melodic guitar strewn throughout the entire track giving it a haunting sound that, mixed with Hunter’s vocals, absolutely works.
“Trigger Finger” is another early release from ther album and like many of the tracks has an epic feel to it. The listener falls right into the grooves and is carried along by some powerful guitar work, killer vocals and damning lyrics. This is another standout track.
The album is rounded out by the beastly, “Scapegoat” and the album closer, “Samsara,” another instrumental and the album’s longest track. “Samsara” starts out slow and melodic but don’t get too comfortable, although it is purely instrumental and full of melody, (you may think the entire song is one long solo) it still gets pretty heavy!
Remember the word I used at the start of this review? Bone-crushing. I’m still standing by it. It’s brutal, man. If you’re not yet a Chimaira fan, you’re going to like this. If you’re already a Chimaira fan you are going to love this! One of the year’s top metal releases. Welcome to The Age of Hell!
Listen to “Born In Blood”:
Listen to “Trigger Finger”:
CHIMAIRA is Mark Hunter – Vocals, Rob Arnold – Lead Guitar, Matt DeVries – Guitar, Emil Werstler – Bass, Sean Z – Keys and Austin D’Amond – Drums
The band has a slew of bundle pre order packages that feature a variety of exclusive merch for true diehard fans. View those HERE.