From the minute I heard teasers from this album at Chimaira’s website (www.chimaira.com), I knew I would love it. The trailers had the entire fast, crushing assault of previous Chimaira records, but had a new depth to them. After figuring out when this record arrived in stores (August 16th), I waited impatiently for it to come out. When it finally did, I rushed to my local HMV as fast as I possibly could and bought it. It did not disappoint me. Even though I though that it would be impossible to even touch The Impossibility of Reason
, this record comes as close to it as any record could have.
Chimaira formed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1999. This year was huge for nu-metal, which is why the sextet’s first to recordings, This Present Darkness
EP and Pass Out of Existence
had a very nu-metal/ industrial metal feel to them. These records were quite shallow and lacked technicality. The band’s sophomore full-length deepened their sound significantly by making the tuning of their baritone guitars higher and adding solos.
brought about a change in drummers. Andols Herrick, Chimaira’s previous drummer, was incredible on the double bass, but rarely used blastbeats or drum solos. Don’t take this the wrong way, Andols still utilized beautiful fills, but not the way that new drummer Kevin Talley does. Talley, of Dying Fetus fame, is a monster behind the kit. On the opener, “Nothing Remains," he garnishes the crushing riffs with ridiculously fast blastbeats and double-bass. Another change about this album from the band’s previous works is the solos and the vocals. In terms of solos, they are more abundant, technical and melodic than before. And for the vocals, Mark Hunter’s clean voice has strongly improved. As for his scream…it sounds like he blew out his voice a little bit on the road. His old scream had a trace of melody in it, whereas that melody is now no more. His voice is much more crushing than it was, but whether it is for the better or for the worse I cannot decide.
The guitar riffs on the sextet’s latest effort are weighty and complex (see Save Ourselves
for a prime example of this) and the keyboards are far more audible than on the previous effort (2003’s The Impossibility of Reason
) but not as prominent as they were on the first album. Guitar One magazine described Mark’s vocals as “gargling" and “razor blade", and frankly I think the latter is a far better way to describe them. There is next to no phlegm in his scream, and his clean voice, though rarely used, is an asset…this album might be better if there were more light songs like “Salvation".
The lyrics are furious, pointed, and true. On “Left For Dead", Hunter beats a family member with malevolent lyrics, perhaps he is singing about his mother who may have abandoned his father?
He’s been thrown away, left for dead. This is the only father we’ve ever had.
He’s been thrown away, left for dead…how could you choose money instead?
The song is one of the best moments on the album, as you can feel the venomous anger flowing through Hunter’s vocal chords and out his mouth. Even the riffs are aggressive and angry, making this one a great song to mosh to.
But, of course, few albums are without sore spots. When I say this, I’m looking directly at the numbers “Comatose" and “Lazarus". The former seems boring, stock and contrived, and the latter drawn-out and tiring. Again, this work could be better if these were replaced with songs like “Salvation."
“Salvation" has a ‘ballady’ feel to it. There is a lot of clean singing, and it sounds very melancholy as a whole. Plucked violins scratch their way into the mix in the intro and early bits of the song, making it diverse. The chorus is unbelievably amazing, as it the outro. This one’s for the ages.
Overall, I think that Chimaira’s latest shows personal growth as a band, and a great future is in store for them. It has more of a death metal-ish feel than that of their previous works, but I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Kevin Talley has definitely brought new depth to the band, and Chris Spicuzza’s paycheck has gone up considerably, or so it would seem. The riffs have improved, and the guitarists have taken their skill to the next level. So far, probably the best record of 2005.
(+) More complex
(+) More emotional
(+) Better riffs
(+) Better drums
(-) A couple of mediocre tracks
(-) Less unique
(-) No tracks really “jump out at you"
(-) Mark Hunter’s voice has regressed somewhat
Inside the Horror, Salvation, Nothing Remains and Left for Dead
are all great.