Chimaira return with yet another new line-up but a revitalised sound that packs a fearsome punch, loaded with grooves and unyielding brutality. Now, Chimaira are a band that have been around since the infamous New Wave of American Heavy Metal, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lamb Of God, Machine Head and Killswitch Engage, to name but a few. During this time, they carved out a name for themselves with their trademarked brand of groove-laden heaviness, culminating in a catalogue of metal anthems, including 2007’s critically acclaimed, ‘Resurrection’.
As years passed by, new albums came and went, with varying levels of praise and the band’s line-up changed dramatically, first losing long time keyboardist Chris Spicuzza and drummer Andols Herrick. After the release of the poorly received ‘The Age Of Hell’, guitarists Matt Devries and Rob Arnold departed after more than a decade of defining the band’s sounds.
For seventh offering ‘Crown Of Phantoms’, vocalist and only remaining founding member Mark Hunter enlisted a host of talented musicians to produce one of the finest Chimaira albums in years. The powerhouse drumming of Austin D’amond provides a solid base for the album, while exhibiting a versatile sound, slowing things down for the sludgy, almost industrial ‘Wrapped In Violence’ and pounding relentlessly with the bludgeoning assault of ‘I Despise’.
Dååth guitarist Emil Werstler was a game-changing addition to the group, with his creative solo work and exciting shredding adding melody that has been somewhat absent in recent releases, without compromising the overall sound that has brought Chimaira to where they are today. ‘Kings Of The Shadow World’ is a magnificent lesson in face-melting, while ‘Love Soaked Death’ shows insanely catchy hooks and melodies that compliment Hunter‘s brief dip into something that almost resembles clean singing.
In addition to their guitarist, Dååth have provided both singer Sean Zatorsky on keyboards and Jeremy Creamer on bass to the Chimaira cause, creating a well-rounded sound, with a group of musicians who are comfortable playing with each other. Other standout tracks include ‘The Machine’, which harks back to the band’s earlier efforts, while ‘All That’s Left Is Blood’ stampedes its way through three and a half minutes of unhindered rage.
For those who had given up on Chimaira, who feared that the band they had known was dead, fear not, ‘Crown Of Phantoms’ is a triumphant return to form of one of the dominant forces in modern metal. With fresh new talent, grooves aplenty and Mark Hunter‘s seemingly innate ability to write a solid metal track, Chimaira are back, and they mean business.
Written by Ben Hammond