CHIMAIRA — The Age of Hell (review)

CHIMAIRA — The Age of Hell album cover Album · 2011 · Groove Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Chimaira have had a rough time; it seemed as though the world was at their feet in the wake of their zeitgeist grabbing second album The Impossibility Of Reason which was released in 2003, but after that album had passed the press never kept up the same level of interest in the band.

In 2009; Chimaira released possibly their strongest album to date, ‘The Infection,’ and no one seemed to actually notice outside a circle of existing fans. One would frequently hear people say things like they though Chimaira had broke up, or that they only made one good album anyway.

This was quite unfair as Chimaira have been one of the most consistent bands in the entire genre; continually churning out extremely strong albums, constantly improving as musicians and songwriters and genuinely putting in huge amounts of effort live and in relations with their fans.

Now it is 2011 and the band have lost three members (Jim La Marca, Chris Spicuzza and Andols Herrick) but returned to the studio with long time collaborator Ben Schigel, who has both produced the album and performed as the drummer as well to create their sixth studio album, The Age Of Hell.

As always vocalist Mark Hunter and lead guitarist Rob Arnold form the core songwriting unit, so the album still retains the overall Chimaira sound. Rob’s guitar style anchors the album; Mark’s vocal range has always expanded slightly with each new record and The Age Of Hell adds a few new dimensions to the man’s repertoire.

The songs are all a lot shorter and more direct than on previous Chimaira albums and mostly faster than on The Infection, which focused more on the band’s groove side, you almost get the sense that the band seem to have made a concerted effort not to repeat The Infection.

The Age Of Hell at times seems as though it is trying to evoke The Impossibility Of Reason, for example on the pre-released ‘Trigger Finger,’ and “Born in Blood” (featuring Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel on guest vocals,) which feature a few riffs here and there that sound a lot like “Power Trip,” “Pure Hatred,” or “Cleansation.”

Also like their popular 2003 record, the album closes with a grand, guitar solo filled instrumental track. Some fans will see this as a good thing and others may view it as a cynical move to counteract waning public interest.

The Age Of Hell isn’t all rooted in the past however; tracks like ‘Clockwork,’ ‘Powerless,’ and ‘Year Of The Snake,’ add new dimensions to Chimaira’s sound, be they Pink Floyd style ambient moments, or just fresh takes on metalcore that you haven’t heard before.

The overall quality of songwriting and musicianship on is phenomenal and the album is a great listen, full of creative riffs, interesting solos and a drumming performance that fits the band so well you wouldn’t know Andols had left if no one told you.

If you are one of the people who didn’t give up on the band, you will find The Age Of Hell to be another strong Chimaira album that still features enough of what made the band great and that has a unique place within the band’s overall catalogue.

Overall, The Age Of Hell is a good album which I hope reignites a wider interest in Chimaira, who really deserve it based on the effort and quality they put into touring, any of their products and how they interact with the fans.
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