They say that big bands can endrure almost everything. There can be no big band without drawbacks inside and around it and you can’t put things to the test if everything goes well all the time. 2011 finds Cleveland based Chimaira in the most critical state of their thirteen year presence since their formation. Who can explain otherwise the fact that half the team of their previous album ”The Infection” was out before their new album ”The Age Of Hell” would be released? First was bassist Jim LaMarca who left the band to dedicate his time in his family, tired of touring. Then the massive hit this year included the departure of both drummer Andols Herrick (who had left once again after ”The Impossibility Of Reason” and was replaced by Kevin Talley for the self-titled album in 2005, before returning again) and keyboardist Chris Spicuzza, whose compositions and keyboard fillings were one of the things that were helping the band stand out on the front, compared to the most ‘metalcore’ style out there. As well as his clean backing vocals of course.

Mark Hunter and the guitar duo of Matt DeVries and Rob Arnold (which both of them belong to Six Feet Under now and will abandon ship also, leaving Hunter on his own) had a tough job to do. On the one hand they had to find the courage to go on, on the other hand, the three of them were always the driving force of this band and the main composers, so pretty much the result would be the same, once they would find the new members. Their previous album was like commiting suicide, but they managed not only to survive, but also be able to get recognition for their daring effort. ”The Infection” was a slow, mid-tempo tuned album which would surely harass enough people, as Chimaira were mainly known for their groovy mostly up-tempo side, plus their amazing outbursts. ”The Infection” was much heavier but way slower too. The band tested their fans and most of them continued being by their side. So what new has ”The Age Of Hell” to offer this time? Is it going to stand the test of time or not?

Things are very simple and clear from the very beginning. Once the title track enters, there is no room for dispute, as the new Chimaira face of 2011 has just had a lifting, but the main features are still there. An enraging Mark Hunter makes the mics suffer through the whole album, the double guitar bladestorm cuts and puts back together pieces of yourself as you dive into the album. The great production plus the great work the new members do (especially drummer Austin D’Amond) make you realize easier than you had first thought, that nothing seems to stand on their way. Chimaira was a very demonstrating band from the beginning, and even sounding much as Slipknot on ”This Present Darkness” EP or ”Pass Out Of Existence” first full length back in 2001, it was only the start to find their own sound in the continuation and finally become alongside Lamb Of God the two bands that would make the word ‘metalcore’ sound very poor to describe them. They gained this with their worth, which once more is proved on ”The Age Of Hell”.

Dynamite songs like ”Clockwork” or ”Losing My Mind” bring back the typical Chimaira sound, only this time the album seems like it’s taking all Chimaira elements of the past, it mixes them with the sound of ”The Infection” and the final outcome is an even heavier and much more multi-sided album by the band. Outbursts like the first video clip ”Year Of The Snake” or colossal tracks such as ”Born In Blood” (with Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel screaming his guts together with Hunter on this one) and ”Trigger Finger” closing the eye on the thrashy side of the band, raise the album’s level in such a way that it seems we’re dealing with a new birth of Chimaira here. Also, it is rather promising soundwise, that not even the loss of the two guitarists and main composers could be a roadblock for the band’s world domination. Once Hunter finds two good guitar players that can compose such great songs -though not that easy- he will be able to claim that he’s had a double victory, both personal and general towards all haters.

The album’s closing with the trippy instrumental ”Samsara” enables you to keep wondering what kind of shock you’ve just been through, and only if you repeat the listening you may be able to understand. In theory, this album (as well as the previous one) won’t get the recognition of Chimaira’s holy trinity of creations (”The Impossibility Of Reason”, ”Chimaira” and their highest peak to date ”Ressurection”). On the other hand, this album is destined to be a grower to the ones that might feel some disappointment at the beginning. There is no actual reason to try and get confused what the songs are about, just be focused and 50 minutes of great loud groovy music will be a great companion to you. The limited edition features four bonus tracks, two of which (”Scum Of The Earth” and ”Your Days Are Numbered”) keep the same level as in the album. Also included are a remix of ”Clockwork” and a cover of ”Wild Thing” which needs no further introductions. Chimaira are still here and on two years, as they get used to, we’ll know if all this upside down situation before and after the recordings of ”The Age Of Hell” keeps them a step back or strengthens them even more, just like it has always happend since their creation. Finger on the trigger: Kaboom!

Track List Line Up
01. The Age of Hell
02. Clockwork
03. Losing My Mind
04. Time Is Running Out
05. Year of the Snake
06. Beyond the Grave
07. Born In Blood
08. Stoma
09. Powerless
10. Trigger Finger
11. Scapegoat
12. Samsara
Mark Hunter – Vocals
Rob Arnold – Lead Guitar
Matt DeVries – Guitar
Emil Werstler – Bass
Sean Zatorsky – Keys
Austin D’Amond – Drums