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Chimaira - "The Age Of Hell" (CD)

Chimaira - "The Age Of Hell" CD cover image

"The Age Of Hell" track listing:

1. The Age of Hell (3:32)
2. Clockwork (3:43)
3. Losing My Mind (4:57)
4. Time Is Running Out (4:13)
5. Year of the Snake (3:41)
6. Beyond the Grave (4:54)
7. Born in Blood (featuring Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel) (4:08)
8. Stoma (1:28)
9. Powerless (4:31)
10. Trigger Finger (3:54)
11. Scapegoat (4:32)
12. Samsara (featuring Emil Werstler of DÅÅTH) (6:12)

Reviewed by on September 19, 2011

"This is exactly what a comeback sounds like and Chimaira would be wise to play a lot of new material on their upcoming tour."

Chimaira has always been hit or miss for me. The band's self-titled album is one of the best examples of what metal from the past decade is absolutely necessary to listen to. On the other hand, “The Infection” is one of the absolute worst albums of any genre of music that I've ever heard. Thankfully, “The Age of Hell” really redeems Chimaira in my eyes and proves that Chimaira is still able to put out another record that manages to floor me.

“The Age of Hell” is a mostly mid-paced groove album that occasionally picks up speed on tracks like “Year of the Snake” and “Born in Blood.” As a result, it's far more varied than “The Infection” and that album's slow, monotonous pace. While “The Age of Hell” is diverse, it's also catchy and still plays with just enough ideas to sound cohesive. The standard Chimaira sound of gruff shouting, jackhammer riffs and Rob Arnold's guitar solos is still intact, but the songwriting is certainly of the highest quality that it's been since 2005.

Surprisingly, “The Age of Hell” contains one of the best metal anthems of the year. “Year of the Snake” has everything needed for a song to be considered a metal classic, with a brutal breakdown, catchy chorus and a heavy, yet memorable, main riff. It overshadows the rest of “The Age of Hell” in the same way that “Angel of Death” dominates every listen to “Reign in Blood.” Not that the rest of the album is bad by any means, but “Year of the Snake” is just that good and will probably remain a live staple for years to come.

What's amazing is that Chimaira was able to pull this off after losing half the band's lineup shortly before recording began. Even though some tracks like “Trigger Finger” and “Time Is Running Out” are clearly more developed than much of the album, there's still the fact that “The Age of Hell” is very much a strong addition to Chimaira's discography despite the sudden changes. What's even more incredible was hearing Austin D’Amond replace Andols Herrick and still be able to not only live up to the legacy of the latter, but actually surpass him. D'Amond actually manages to be constantly entertaining at all times, shifting tempos while still proving that he can be every bit as talented as far more famous drummers, despite having no prior name recognition.

It may have been six years since I've enjoyed a Chimaira album, but I'm glad that I gave the band another chance. This is exactly what a comeback sounds like and Chimaira would be wise to play a lot of new material on their upcoming tour.

Highs: Austin D'Amond is a worthy successor to Andols Herrick, Rob Arnold still plays some sick solos, "Year of the Snake" is an absolutely amazing song

Lows: Overly-long instrumental closing track

Bottom line: "The Age Of Hell" is an exceptional comeback album.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)