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Chimaira - Chimaira

2005 Roadrunner Records :: Reviewed by Skeksis on 2005-08-11

Here we are, summer of 2005 as of this writing, in midst of this whole metalcore trend, and out comes a, gasp, unabashed thrash record? God damn! Say what you will about Chimaira, I've got to give them credit for releasing a record so far from the current music trend on a label known for doing just that. Chimaira's last release, 2003's somewhat mediocore "The Impossibility of Existence" hinted somewhat at the direction the band would take on their S/T release. More thrash, less nu-metal and less metalcore (yes, they do get lumped in with that group). Coming across much like Metallica's long,long player ...And Justice for All in terms of song length and song structure, their newest release will take a few spins to get into. Right off the bat there are no apparent hit songs per se. The songs riffs tend to meander amongst themselves. The way the riffs are arranged and how they repeat are very similar to ...Justice. And like "...Justice" the songs tend to be in the 6 minutes plus territory. Also credit given to lead guitarist(s) Matt DeVries and? Rob Arnold for composing leads that smack of Justice era Hammett leads, when he played epic, shred fest runs and before he started to drown his playing with that infernal wah wah pedal. And just like "...Justice" and for the most part, most thrash records that came out in the late 80's/early 90's (Horroscope, Oppressing the Masses, Practice what Your Preach,etc...) the songs show allot of restraint and maturity in their composition. Chimaira are not a band that's afraid to use a riff and stick with that riff for a bit, a nice change of pace in today's attention deficit guitar playing scene. The riffs tend to revolve around a few central riffs and alter slightly yet stay connected to the main body of the song. Also of note is that this is not a technical album. There is no riff count sticker on the cover nor will you find and Morbid Angel like riff wankery. The riffs are meaty, weighty, and pummeling in a straight forward way. New drummer Kevin Talley(Misery Index/Dying Fetus) carries the whole record superbly, adding where needed but never over playing. Can't help but mention keyboardist Chris Spicuzza, namely because you'll barely notice him there. You'll here bits and pieces here and there but for the most part, the music doesn't call for keys and thankfully its not awash in them (Ala Children of Bodom). Probably my biggest (and only for the most part) gripe is with the ever so monotonous and wheezy vocals of Mark Hunter. Although decent enough for the music, there just simply needs more variation in his delivery to keep any ones attention. You tend to start listening to the record and just ignore the fact he's even there. Emote dammit, emote! Complaint aside, Chimaira newest is a rhythm guitarist's wet dream, and probably one of the best thrash records out recently. Straight forward, honest to goodness bay area thrash. Put down that Darkane "Layers of Lies" and get this!