Released: 2007, Ferret Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Chimaira’s ascension from nu-metal stalwarts on 2001’s PASS OUT OF EXISTENCE to a more streamlined metal presence on 2003’s THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF REASON took a lot of people by surprise. What was even more surprising was the stratospheric leap the band took with their next album, 2005’s self-titled effort, which contained vastly darker, longer and heavier material. A mutual split with Roadrunner Records due to “difference in musical direction” halfway through the touring cycle for CHIMAIRA left many wondering where the band would end up. A surprising jump to hardcore-dominant label, Ferret Music, continued the unexpected moves and the frustration, anger and disillusionment Chimaira went through over the last two years has been funneled into their latest album, the aptly-titled modern thrash-fest known as RESURRECTION.
Besides the label woes, a revolving door of drummers has passed through the Chimaira camp since Andols Herrick first jumped ship back in 2003. First, it was Richard Evensand (ex-Soilwork) then Kevin Talley (ex-Misery Index/Dying Fetus) before Herrick announced his return to the band last year. Another difference this time out is rather than have lead guitarist Rob Arnold penning the majority of the music, rhythm guitarist Matt DeVries and even Herrick—with one song written entirely by vocalist Mark Hunter—earn some songwriting credit here. This variety certainly benefits the record by not only diversifying the sound but also the band’s ever-expanding style. Even keyboardist/programmer, Chris Spicuzza, who since PASS OUT OF EXISTENCE has had little to do on Chimaira’s albums, makes his presence felt throughout RESURRECTION.
The title track, first released to fans through Chimaira’s MySpace site on Christmas Eve, sails into a blazing thrash groove that will launch a thousand moshpits for years to come. Hunter’s vitriolic lyrics on the song are aimed directly at the band’s former label (“Free at last/Finally tasting happiness/Five years of hell for nothing/Trapped inside the minds of failures”…OUCH!). Herrick is an absolute machine on drums here and Arnold wastes no time in demonstrating why he is one of the most underrated guitarists in modern metal with his shredding solo, as well. Hunter’s abrasive rasp is still plentiful but he dusts off his clean vocals once again for “Pleasure In Pain” and “Killing The Beast.” They are used sparingly and with great effect that is two-fold—first by adding a melodic bridge to combat any repetitiveness and secondly, to augment the heavier passages. One thing Hunter never does is mince words and the hate-filled lyrics to “Worthless” (“Nobody cares if you die/You are fucking worthless”) punctuate the air behind DeVries’ buzzsaw riffs. Not just a one-trick pony spewing hatred and anger, Hunter’s lyrics touch on homelessness (“No Reason To Live”), incest (“The Flame”) and drug abuse (“Needle”) which show a growing maturity as a songwriter. Herrick’s time away from the band appear to have done him so good, as well, with “End It All” and “Needle” showcasing some killer chops and well-developed arrangements. While balls-out, groove-based thrash has become Chimaira’s raison d'être, the epic “Six” is nearly ten minutes of Eastern-influenced fury that shifts gears several times creating a complex but brilliantly ambitious track. Harmonized vocals and a sampled female vocal really add a nice flair to this track, too. Likewise, the bombastic intro and late-period Emperor-like keyboard/riff combo on “Empire” is a powerful weapon in the band’s growing arsenal. The special-edition of RESURRECTION comes packaged with a bonus DVD featuring the making of the album as well as two bonus tracks—“Kingdom of Heartache” and “Paralyzed.” Of the two, “Kingdom of Heartache” is the keeper with Hunter unleashing a surprisingly-able, guttural death metal growl over top of a mid-tempo chugging stomp.
Much like CHIMAIRA, RESURRECTION suffers from a weak middle section. “No Reason To Live,” the slow, clumsy “Killing The Beast” and the awkward vocal arrangements of “End It All” are pale comparisons to what come before and after on the album. Still, the unbridled propulsive nature and notable improvements found elsewhere on the album are enough to forgive these otherwise minor shortcomings.
Album number four is just another step in the right direction for this band and the genuine conviction heard on RESURRECTION is clearly more than just an album title for Chimaira in 2007. At an hour in length, RESURRECTION, much like their last album, is a dark, brooding and angry listen which doesn’t exactly invite the fringes of metal fandom into Chimaira’s inner circle. Opting to go heavier rather than more commercial and write longer songs rather than more radio-friendly numbers, Chimaira has defied every convention of modern metal and missed the boat captained by bands like Lamb of God. Parallels to Machine Head, a band which has faced similar ups-and-downs, are not far off and if Chimaira’s career is patterned after the Bay Area groove-thrashers, they will continue to build a strong, loyal following while flying under the metal radar to deliver one of the notable releases of 2007.
KILLER KUTS: “Resurrection,” “Pleasure In Pain,” “Worthless,” “Six,” “The Flame,” “Black Heart,” “Empire”