Review Summary: The Elite? Sorry Guys, Not Really.
As a long time Chimaira fan I was somewhat disappointed by the band’s recent effort “The Infection”. The album was full of mostly uninspired guitar work and a change in vocal performance for the worse with the band that produced 2005’s self titled effort nowhere in sight. So it was with trepidation that I approached World War III
; the debut EP of guitarist Rob Arnold’s side project, The Elite. With a name like The Elite, the band already seemed to give themselves a reputation to live up to, which, unfortunately, they fail to do.
The EP is full of chugging and single finger drop c power chord riffs that sound like they’ve come straight from The Infection
’s cutting room floor. These stale riffs are accompanied by a more hardcore tinged, Jamey Jasta-esque vocal performance from TJ Frost and some standard drum work consisting of constant double bass, average metal drum fills and the odd blast beat. Opening track “Kill The Son” is a prime example of this. After an intro sampling war sounds (which appears later on in the EP as well) a chugging open string riffs enters, broken up by some arpeggiated notes. This formula is maintained for the majority of the track - and the majority of the EP - occasionally venturing into double time and tremolo picking in an attempt to add some variety, however this hardly aids in breaking the monotony.
On top of these standard, uninspired riffs, Frost shouts anti war sentiments which instead of coming off as inspired protests sound more like the lyrics of a vocalist trying to jump on a lyrical bandwagon. This occurs throughout the album with other socio-political topics such as religion with full of lyrical gems such as this excerpt from “New Religion”:
“Terrorism, the new religion
Give them a inch, they’ll take a mile
Terrorism, the new religion
Give them your faith, they’ll take your mind”
As well as the poor lyricism the band also make a mistake by inlcuding an appearance by Chimaira vocalist, Mark Hunter on the EP’s second track “Mask Of The Damned”. This track merely serves as a device to showcase the lack of range and quality vocalist TJ Frost has, with Hunter’s short verse outshining the band’s vocalist entirely.
Over the course of the EP, listeners may well be reminded of early Chimaira, with some tracks featuring riffs recalling a nu-metal style, whose basic style provide nothing of real substance to catch and keep the listener’s attention. However there is a plus side to Arnold’s guitar playing and this comes in the form of his lead work, which, while not being of the note shredding, mind blowing variety, is stilll strong enough to provide enough ingenuity to bring some welcome variety to some of the tracks (“Mask Of The Damned”).
It is possible that Arnold’s aim with The Elite is to play a more relaxed, less technical form of music than in his main band (and it's not as if Chimaira are highly proficient in that area anyway), which would be acceptable, except for the fact that this approach to the song writing has led to the music on World War III
being boring, uninspired and somewhat indistinguishable listen, with the band clearly not attempting to stretch themselves or bring any variety to the EP.
In short, my intial trepidation was well founded as World War III
is definitely not a strong start point for a band claiming themselves to be ‘The Elite’.