Review Summary: Chimaira pull out all the stops and produce the darkest and best album of their career.
There's something frighteningly satisfying about embracing our darker sides. And darker doesn't necessarily mean something akin to evil; it could also account for the embrace of our losses and our failures, which can have a drastic effect on one's emotional balance and our perspective on the lives we all lead. To not ignore what you or others have done wrong, but to accept what has been done and confront it. Of course, confronting your innermost disappointments and struggling to understand them can make an individual stronger, or cause one to slip off the tightrope into a void of unending depression.
This more or less sums up the motif of Chimaira's self-titled album. It is clear from the onset that there is more than a little aggression and turmoil brewing within the band and it is all put on relentlessly efficient display throughout the album's near-hour run time.
stands heads and shoulders above the band's previous (and future) albums primarily due to the musical efficiency heard in almost every song. From the calculating and merciless opener "Nothing Remains" to the emotionally devastating closer "Lazarus," the band is on top of their game. Rarely do the instrumentals feel out of place or excessive. Every double-bass kick, every guitar solo, every rupturing scream feels like it belongs to the greater whole. Because of this, the album, even with it's fairly long run time, never feels too long and makes for an easy listen insofar as you're willing to embrace the brutality present on the disc.
Technically, the band has never sounded better. The Impossibility of Reason
saw the band stepping up their game considerably and featured many guitar solos and more thrash-oriented guitar riffs and solos. Unfortunately, many of the guitar parts were a little sloppy in the way that it seemed the band was just excited to be playing very fast. Chimaira
completely dissolves this problem. The guitars, though not insanely technical, are played with a proficiency the band had yet to display and have yet to repeat. The razor-sharp staccato intro guitar riff for "Left For Dead" is a prime example of this newfound technicality. Even the more repetitive parts found in "Nothing Remains" and "Salvation" sound very accomplished and lay out a firm base, in concordance with the drum lines, to make each song sound very tight. Speaking of the drums, they work in nearly the same way. Though this is Kevin Talley's only appearance with Chimaira, his work helps bring up the intensity levels of each song to almost unbearable levels.
Elsewhere, Mark Hunter has also shown huge improvements. Though the delivery can get a little tiring, abandoning clean-singing almost altogether and focusing on his growl/scream has allowed Hunter to become give an almost devilish quality to already ferocious music. His lyrical approach is also far more focused on this album. Indeed, there are still the "I'm going to find you and make you suffer for what you've done"-style lyrics reminiscent of their past records (more so TIOR
), but there is also a lot of undiscovered territory he steers into. The most convincing song, of which special mention should absolutely be made, is the final track "Lazarus" in which Hunter tells the story of close friend whom committed suicide. His screams speak volumes of the agony it has caused him which, combined with an excellent arrangement of slightly slower instrumentals, make for an emotionally crushing piece of music.
There are weaknesses: the repetition factor certainly comes into play, a couple of songs are of slightly less quality (Bloodlust), and songs may be a little too long for many listeners' tastes. But to dwell on these weaknesses is to miss out on what is so engaging about Chimaira
. This is the sound of a group of musicians confronting the darkest corners of their psyches and coming out with a soundtrack that sends the listener on an expedition through those places; those places where few would ever wish to go. Thankfully, this has yielded a potent aural representation of our inner demons; one that all should make an attempt to hear out and decipher for themselves.