No matter how much attention they get, I always feel like Chimaira are the most underrated, underhyped young band in metal. Kerry King himself said they remind him of a young Slayer; short of Ozzy personally giving them head on stage, I don’t know what greater endorsement this band needs in order for the metal community to award them their rightful place alongside Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage as bearers of the extreme music torch. Chimaira (like God Forbid, come to think of it) are at least as good as Trivium and Shadows Fall but get half the attention.
No worry. History will look favorably on this Cleveland sextet, who, on Christmas Eve, released the title track for their upcoming offer, RESURRECTION, for free download on their MySpace Page. And what a nice Christmas gift it is, every bit as brutal, complex, and challenging as the material on their 2005 self-titled opus. The ever-hoarse Mark Hunter continues to growl as though his life depended on literally screaming out his demons, and while lead guitarist Rob Arnold only gets a very brief moment to shred as though he were trying to wears his own fingers down to nubs, he continues to be one of the most consistent and talented guitarists in the current landscape. If the track has any weaknesses, it’s that original drummer Andols Herrick’s return to the fold doesn’t fulfill its own promise; his temporary replacement, Kevin Talley, came from a grindcore/death background (Dying Fetus, Misery Index) that favors blast beats over rhythm- but when he was forced to rethink his own style for the Chimaira kids, he suddenly evolved into one of the most nimble and inventive drummers in metal. Technically speaking, Herrick is tough to beat; it’s just that his choices are considerably more pedestrian than those of Talley.
Still, it’s amazing to hear what Hunter, Arnold and company can achieve; the music feels almost alive, constantly changing in ways both subtle and bludgeoning. Chimaira don’t have verses, bridges or choruses so much as they have movements; they take their cues, like so many of their peers, from PUPPETS/JUSTICE-era Metallica, but they’re wwwwaaayyyy ahead of the curve in terms of their ability to make these constant changes feel unforced, organic.
On a final note, this is the first material the band has released since leaving (supposedly under good terms) Roadrunner Records earlier this year for the smaller, if also very accomplished, Ferret, and although both Chimaira and Roadrunner claimed the split was amicable, the song’s lyrics suggest anything but:
Free at last
Finally tasting happiness
Five years of hell for nothing
Trapped inside the lives of failures
A wise man once said
‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger’
But we were dead
So are we now invincible?
And the typically anthemic chorus:
Determination, perserverance, resolution, RESURRECTION
Anyone who saw the band’s excellent DVD, THE DEHUMANIZING PROCESS, know how long this band has struggled to do things their own way, without catering to the masses or record execs, and the “five years of hell,” presumably, is a direct reference to their five years on Roadrunner. Chimaira is nothing if not a band knee deep in the war of art versus commerce. Let’s all be thankful that, at least for now, it’s a battle they seem to be winning.