Chimaira - Chimaira - Roadrunner Records 2005
Running Time: 59:05
When a record label goes out of their way to tell you the exact length of an album in the press packet, you'd better know they believe in what they're trying to sell you. Furthermore, they and the band both know that without a quality product, it's becoming ever easier to lose once-devoted following in the blink of an eye. Well, the favourite bastard sons of Strongsville, OH return with their self-titled third album, and the question is put forth...was it worth the wait?
I've gone on record repeatedly stating that it's the third album (should they get that far) that is the defining moment for a band. Chimaira seems to share this opinion, going so far as to name the album after the band, which puts even more pressure on a group to live up to the name they've made for themselves in the past. Never ones to shy away from a struggle, the opening of 'Nothing Remains' blasts out of the gates like the three-headed beast of mythology from which the band took their moniker. New skinsman Kevin Talley (ex-Misery Index) makes his presence known early on, near-blastbeats butting up against the trademark stop-on-a-dime riffing of Chimaira. The guitarist duo of Rob Arnold and Matt Devries are masters of subtle nuance, changing the riffs just enough to take the song in a new direction (4:56-5:26). Drums pile on the staccato riffing, and are joined by the loping basswork of Jim Lamarca, ending our first taste of Chimaira 2005. Another noticeable change for the better is in the vocal department. Mark Hunter has always had a decent delivery for this style of music, but seems eager to push himself to the frontlines in the war for new (read: not "nu") metal's legitimacy. It works for him, and the urgency bleeds through in songs like 'Inside The Horror', the lyrics taking a much more introspective turn this time around, and making Chimaira the better band for it. The lumbering stomp which begins 'Salvation' will convert even the most diehard metal elitist into a fan, if only for this song. Chimaira has never hidden its metal roots under the banner of faux-hardcore to gain credibility in a scene not entirely theirs, but I'm sure that with grooves this deep, it's only a matter of time before the 'core kids are kung-fu fighting their way around a pit to some of the slower parts of this album. 'Comatose' unleashes Kevin Talley into his comfort zone, most of the song racing forward at a pace more akin to his native death metal. I've listened to this disc three or four times by now, not wanting to rush any judgement, and each time I find myself looking forward to 'Everything You Love'. Beginning with a Dimebag-esque solo before quickly slamming into the sluggish stomp of the main riff, 'Everything You Love' finds Chimaira with all battle stations manned and firing on all cylinders. Hunter's voice hurls invective while the musicians hammer at their respective instruments with equal parts anger and frustration, seeming to let all the insecurities of the past few years out in one sonic burst. The album ends with 'Lazarus', one of the most heartfelt songs you'll ever hear from Chimaira, Hunter clearly purging himself of the demons that have haunted him regarding a friend's suicide over a decade ago, and showing a band unafraid to seem touched by the world around them. The passion in 'Lazarus' transcends genre, and the electronic work of Chris Spicuzza adds colour through this song and much of the album without pushing the band into the "Fear Factory lite" tag they once justifiably bristled against.
I was undecided on Chimaira until the release of the DVD opened my eyes to a band struggling and overcoming incredible odds to get where they were. It's taken awhile, but with this release, the band has found a sound truly their own. Chimaira will be the album that sets a higher standard for the new generation of metal.