Chimaira - Chimaira
Roadrunner Records
Modern Thrash Metal
10 songs (59:05)
Release year: 2005
Chimaira, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Chimaira has always stood out from the hordes of American Metal bands that flooded the scene a few years ago. Pigeonholed as Nu-Metal on the band’s 2001 debut Pass Out Of Existence (despite being quite heavy for the time – there’s obvious Fear Factory influences on there) the band then tried to move towards a more Machine Head-driven sound on 2003’s The Impossibility Of Reason, which received a panning on this site for its feeble lyrics and lack of variety in the riffs, although it’s not nearly as ‘Mallcore’ as Aaron said. The follow-up, 2005’s self-titled album, caused quite a few dropped jaws when it was released, and it’s that to which we attend today.

Chimaira is far too Metallic to be shoved under the Metalcore tag; many is the time that the band opt for a solo where others would have put a breakdown, and the songwriting is much, much improved from the ‘play-riff-repeat-riff-until-song-ends’ formula of before. This, along with the addition of former Dying Fetus drummer Kevin Talley means that the repetitive dull chuggings of before have evolved into a technical precision. Yes, there’s still a reliance on the base riffing that forms the bedrock of the band’s sound, but this is more Decapitated than Deftones; the guitars and drums work together wonderfully, making for a technical Death/Thrash sound that’ll have previous haters of the band headbanging like monkeys on acid at an Amon Amarth gig.

The songs themselves can blur together in the first couple of listens, yet persevere and you’ll find that this is a great album. Kick-off track Nothing Remains opens with a percussive beat-in before the guitars and drums start trading off, opening up into the main Industrialesque riff with plenty of double-bass. The electronics are firmly in the background for this album, and they do a subtle but excellent job of adding atmospheric touches when necessary. Halfway through, the song collapses into an eastern-sounding lead, with some of Mark Hunter’s clean vocals actually working wonders on this album due to their rarity. Speaking of Hunter, this is his best performance to date, his screams and growls better than ever. Sure, we could all do without the odd whispered vocals that are still present for some reason, and there is a hard-to-ignore impression that almost anyone else would turn Chimaira into a undeniably kickass band instead of one that’s nearly there, but once you’re used to him he’s really not that bad.

Chimaira continues in high quality, with a great bit of soloing on Save Ourselves making it difficult to see whether that would have been a better opening track! It’s third song Inside The Horror that is even more of a teeth-kicker, building up in groovy fashion with short, sharp riffs taken from the post-Pantera school of Metal and twisted into a new form. Following track Salvation takes more of a melodic route, the keyboards slightly higher in the sound, and it’s here that you first notice a more epic sound to the band’s sound, with little touches of Tool and Meshuggah that are what convinced me that Chimaira has finally crossed to the right side of the quality barricade instead of sitting on top of it as before.

It’s worth noting that there’s only one song on Chimaira that’s less than five minutes long, the especially Thrashy Comatose. Although there’s nothing too lengthy, there are two songs over seven minutes, Bloodlust and Lazarus. Bloodlust is an especially Pantera’ed up groover, but it’s Lazarus that’s the highlight, opening with Middle-Eastern wailing and breaking down in the middle into an ambient interlude, before coming back to life with yet another great solo and almost polyrhythmic riffs, then fading away with acoustic strumming and eerie electronics.

Although Chimaira can become slightly dull if you listen to it too much, it’s well worth checking out for those that still think the band is stuck in the Mall. Of course, if you’re one of those that thinks that the words ‘Modern’ and ‘Thrash’ have no business being associated with each other, then odds are that you won’t get much from this. Everyone else should try and get their hands on the special 2 CD edition, with bonus and live tracks that are all worth hearing. Tune in same time next week for a review of Chimaira’s 2007 release Resurrection!

Killing Songs :
Nothing Remains, Save Ourselves, Inside The Horror, Salvation, Bloodlust, Lazarus
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Chimaira that we have reviewed:
Chimaira - The Age Of Hell reviewed by Goat and quoted 64 / 100
Chimaira - The Infection reviewed by Goat and quoted 61 / 100
Chimaira - Resurrection reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Chimaira - The Impossibility of Reason reviewed by Aaron and quoted 36 / 100
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