In the two years since their last album, The Infection, Cleveland, Ohio, bruisers Chimaira came close to breaking up, due to several lineup changes, including the loss of three longtime band members. But singer Mark Hunter and guitarists Rob Arnold and Matt DeVries stood their ground and may have actually found the perfect roster for their band with the additional of two members of tech-death outfit Daath--guitarist Emil Wrestler and keyboardist Sean Zatorsky--plus drummer Austin D’Amond.
The title track of their new album, The Age of Hell, launches an hour-long ass-kicking and therapy session in one. "Year of The Snake" and "Born in Blood" have the old-school, circa-Far Beyond Driven Pantera vibe: grooving riffs, fierce drum fills, and perfectly punctuated vocals. As for the lyrics, they are so nakedly aggressive and passionate throughout the record, you'd have to be heartless and gutless to not be drawn in. On the track "Time is Running Out," Hunter wears his feelings with particular brazenness on his sleeve ("How much more can I take?/Swallowed by the storm"). But one of the most emotional songs doesn't even have lyrics: "Samsara," the six-minute Metallica-esque instrumental that closes out the album, is a perfectly moving ending to a powerful record.
Kudos must be given, as well, to Ben Schigel (Drowning Pool, Walls of Jericho) for the amazing production work on The Age of Hell, which sounds crisp and crushing at any volume. Every instrument is perfectly intertwined with the vocals, and each member is given the space to showcase their craft as individuals, as well as within the band as a whole.
If Chimaira went through Hell over the last two years, there's no question, listening to their new album, that they've come back stronger. SARAH B. KOENIG
Check out "Born in Blood" off The Age of Hell below: