Chimaira — The Age Of Hell
Since some time in 1999, when I got my hands on a copy of This Present Darkness, I've considered myself a fan of Chimaira. Over the course of 12 years, the band has put out a solid back catalog of albums. As with most long running bands, though, numerous line-up changes have resulted in a vastly different line-up than the one I got acquainted with all of those years ago. That said, this has not really harmed the band; if anything, the material on The Age Of Hell shows an even more matured and talented band, while still retaining all of the qualities that defined their sound.
The Age Of Hell starts off with a nod to the familiar electronic flourishes the band's material is known for, and breaks into a straight-forward Chimaira riff — thick, punchy and heavily syncopated. For those who have followed the band, the album is immediately familiar, albeit even if the songs themselves are new. Mark Hunter's unique scream is vicious as ever, while the riffing and rhythm sections put in a first rate performance, keeping a steady groove throughout the record.
Throughout the entirety of the album, the songs give only brief melodic interludes, opting to display some really good mixing and interplay between all of the musicians. The synths in "Losing My Mind" are an excellent example of how Chimaira have successfully mixed sampling and other electronic elements into catchy, technical metal. While The Age Of Hell doesn't blaze any new territory for the band, it certainly displays some of their tightest song writing and musical performances to date.
In every respect, production and execution, The Age Of Hell exceeds my expectations. Chimaira have always had their own distinctive style; immediately recognisable, especially after shedding the more heavy-handed elements of their Fear Factory similarities, both in terms of production and song structure. The mildly Eastern-sounding tinge in Rob Arnold's guitar work — especially prevalent the instrumental tracks Chimaira are known for closing albums with — is fused perfectly with modern metal leanings; groovy rhythms and flourishes of showmanship.
As I was working on my review of this album, it was announced that both guitarists, Matt DeVries and Rob Arnold, were leaving the band at the end of 2011. This is definitely an unfortunate turn of events, as both men have contributed to the bulk of the band's entire discography, but thankfully they were able to put The Age Of Hell together before departing. Regardless of what happens to the band in their search for new members, I think they can rest assured that they've just released their strongest outing to date.
I would recommend this album to fans of the band and metal fans in general; if you're not familiar with Chimaira, then The Age Of Hell will serve as a fine introduction; vicious, groovy riffing, brutal vocals, and an awesome instrumental closing track in "Samsara". I would easily consider this album to be one the best releases of 2011, and I've been listening to it steadily for the last 3 months.
Despite being lumped in with the nu metal era, Chimaira never featured any rapping or the various other trappings of the genre. Aside from the heavily Fear Factory production style on the band's Roadrunner Records debut, Pass Out Of Existence, the band has always been a very distinct entity. While the band never broke out in the mainstream, Chimaira have continued to put out quality material throughout their existence. Age Of Hell easily stands out as another strong entry in the band's discography, even if it's not breaking any new ground. This is very much the band doing what it does best; if you're going to appreciate this band at all, you'll know very quickly after giving this album a chance. Another solid effort from a continually underappreciated band.
Release date: August 16th, 2011
Record label: E1 Music
Mark Hunter — vocals
Rob Arnold — guitar
Matt DeVries — guitar
Emil Werstler — bass
Austin D'Amond — drums
Sean Zatorsky — keyboards / electronics
- The Age Of Hell
- Losing My Mind
- Time Is Running Out
- Year Of The Snake
- Beyond The Grave
- Born In Blood
- Trigger Finger
Published: January 4th, 2012.
Edited: February 25th, 2019.