For more than a decade, Chimaira has been imposing its gravity on the metal community by continually touring the globe and selling more than a million albums worldwide. Their brand of heavy music has evolved and transcended both itself and the trends while maintaining its persistent, bludgeoning force. In 2013, Chimaira continues to direct the masses & define a dark future with their new album, “Crown of Phantoms.”
Injecting new life into the beast that is Chimaira, founding member and band patriarch, Mark Hunter, has assembled a diverse, yet cohesive lineup that features equal doses of surgical technicality and blunt-object violence. Emil Werstler’s masterful dexterity on lead guitar fuses aptly with Matt Szlachta’s patented rhythmic groove to create a dual-bladed axe of destruction that gives each song a delicate balance of pummeling precision and esoteric class. Jeremy Creamer dominates the low end with bass lines that stray confidently from the standard, boorish playing approach that heavy music listeners are unfortunately accustomed to hearing. On the drums is Austin D’amond, whose approach to the kit is akin to a demented jarhead, armed to the teeth with automatic weaponry, hell-bent on mowing down a jungle. Sean Z takes over the electronics, ambient supplements & additional vocals that have always made Chimaira’s anger more twisted than most.
For other bands, such an overhaul in the lineup would project unease and a regression in sound, but for Chimaira the reinvention is simply a part of the band’s DNA. Hunter comments on the band’s forward progression: “When I started this band I had a desire to make extremely heavy, eclectic metal. Nothing has changed in that regard. I wanted to merge all the styles I loved into a hybrid of sounds. Having the chance to reinvent the group gave me the opportunity to work with unbelievable players and take the essence of Chimaira to uncharted territory. Assembling the right team was essential to creating what I feel is some of the craziest and most passionate music I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. The past defines us while the present refines us.”
Such refinement is evidenced on some standout tracks from “Crown of Phantoms.”
“It’s alive,” announces Hunter, on the album opener, “The Machine,” a possible statement of the band’s renewed lineup (Hunter revealed that all songs on the new record have a double meaning). The song serves as an amalgamation of Chimaira’s remorseless brutality, foray into dark psychedelia, and thematic overture of the journey that is to come.
“All That’s Left is Blood” is an exercise in musical evisceration. One almost feels guilty for screaming along to such audio violence. Here, Werstler’s soloing lays a daring fluidity over the riot-inciting main riff. It’s immediately recognizable as being another classic Chimaira track, trademarked territory yet radical with growth.
“Crown of Phantoms’” title track displays Chimaira’s advanced songwriting with a galloping pre-chorus that lifts you up just to cut you down with its trunk-rattling, half-time chorus. Hunter’s call to “walk with [him] through misery” is less an invitation than a threat, but when Chimaira sounds this dangerous, you go willingly and repeatedly.
Make no mistake; a monster has come in from the darkness to feed. Awakened, haunted, pissed-off, and above all, completely aware. You have no choice but to allow Chimaira to transcend your expectations yet again.