Before I ooze over how great this new Chimaira album is, allow me to get you caught up in recent “roster moves” for the band. We had three departures in the past year for the band, saying goodbye to Jim (bass), Chris (keyboards/programming), and Andols (drums). Replacements came in the form of Austin D’Amond to man the kit, and the duo of Emil Werstler (bass) and Sean Zatorsky (keyboards/backing vocals) from the Atlanta based outfit, Daath. Of course we still see the return of Matt and Rob on guitar as well as Mark barking his vocals on the mic. Now that we are all on the same page, it’s time for The Age of Hell.
The first track is actually the title track of the album, and it is the best way to open this album. It hits you like a ton of bricks and prepares for a real age of hell. With lyrics like “This is the Age of Hell!” you really can’t go wrong with how this album is going to go. A thunderous, fast-paced, ride through the depths of the underworld.
The following track, Clockwork, is a very interesting track. You get to hear Sean’s back up vocals in the chorus which adds a nice melodic feel to the harshness of Mark’s vocals. There is also a feeling of “wanting to float forever and leave this world behind” in the interlude where there is in fact a saxophone solo… yes that’s right. Gives you a sense of weightlessness and forget all about The Age of Hell that has befallen on our world. Catch your breath though as Mark and the rest of the guys bring you back down to reality only to have the track suddenly stop.
Losing My Mind is next that starts off with a worked up feeling with pounding drums and a powerful guitar riff. Then everything is brought down after a Mark Hunter grunt. This song really gave me the feeling of searching around for my sanity while being sick with schizophrenia. With lyrics like:
Get this invader out of me
I need help this is killing me
I’m blinded by the thought of tomorrow
I’m drowning in this ocean of sorrow”
I really felt as if I was loosing my mind. After the first guitar solo of the album, we are greeted with a breakdown with some very interesting samples from Sean.
Time is Running Out comes out with another great riff from the guitar duo. In this track, Sean’s backing vocals are even more prevalent that past tracks, and may I say… I really dig the contrast of both singers. This song is actually a great follow up to the previous track. It sounds like Mark went from loosing his mind and trying to find it, to completely giving up and is at the breaking point. Put this one on your “Bad Day at Work” playlists kids!
And then there’s the first “hit” of the album, Year of the Snake. I will admit, even though this is the first hit off the new album, it’s probably my favorite. This track seems to follow suit in the past two track. After loosing your mind and being at the breaking point, you have now officially snapped and have brought the The Age of Hell upon all of us. After the second chorus, the listeners are punched in the face by one of the most thunderous breakdowns I have heard to date. Really gives you the feeling of lashing out like a snake. But hey I guess anything is possible after you have “kissed the mouth of sin.” For those who like music videos, there is one for this track, so YouTube is a definite must for you after reading this.
Beyond the Grave at first slows you down after a heart pounding few tracks to catch your breath and prepare for the second half of The Age of Hell. Where Chimaira has worked mostly with speed and high impact riffs, this song works on the art of what it means to be heavy. Slow, yet catchy riffs and pounding drums get your head banging a bit slower but banging nonetheless. Then at about 3:30 everything shifts up a gear and starts getting your heart beat back up for the rest of the track. I will go on the record that this is one of those lovely hidden gems that Chimaira has in store for all of us.
Born in Blood sees a special guest vocalist that many have wanted for some time. Phil Bozeman, lead singer of Whitechapel, graces us with his presence. This track is the epitome of Chimaira with speed, aggression, and self empowering lyrics. Phil comes in and really sets the pace for the track with squealing guitars in the background only to force their way through and hit us with a face melting solo. Then the guitars and drums build us back up to the chorus where we are told “Nothing can stop us now!” In a few years, Chimaira I’m sure will put out a Greatest Hits album, and this track should make the cut I think.
The track entitled Stoma is a machine-like sounding instrumental intro for the following track. Try listening to it and not think of a bunch of computers, machines, and dare I say, a Terminator?
We are brought right into Powerless that immediately gets your head banging again, as if you were powerless to it…. ok sorry that was corny. This track reminded me of through all of this Hell that we have come through, we finally question the supposed powers that be.
“I’ve never been so frightened, so enlightened
What kind of god does this?
We were so powerless.
Does anyone care?”
More memorable and fancy fretwork graces our ears in the middle of the track while the drums keep chugging away until we reach the end of yet another great track. This track was probably the best “head banging” track on the album with the constant flow of the song.
Trigger Finger is next up and was actually the first track I had heard from The Age of Hell thanks to XM Liquid Metal. This is another “classic” Chimaira type of song. We are hit with amazing riffs and pounding drums during the verses only to be sped up for the chorus. Very simple, yet brutal and “sing-a-long” worthy lyrics in the chorus as well.
“I’ve got my finger on the trigger, and I’m ready to pull!”
We feel the end of The Age of Hell is near when Scapegoat hits with a drum solo intro and one of my favorite riffs on the whole album. Between the whammy guitar riff and the chugging rhythm guitar, I was quickly dragged in. I really enjoyed the lyrics in this track also as it seems like Mark is having a struggle with someone trying to prove he hasn’t done something, yet this person keeps blaming Mark for everything. My favorite selection of lyrics:
“Your eyes judge what they do not know
Don’t look at me that way
The words you use behind closed doors make their way down the hall
I hear it all
I’m not your fucking scapegoat”
The end of the track features a classical guitar solo that, well, sounds elegant. Maybe this is a sign that The Age of Hell is coming to an end?
The last track, Samsara, comes in with a very eerie sample and then clean guitars enter with a very melodic solo. This solo was actually performed by the bassist of the band, Emil, who as I mentioned earlier, plays guitar for Daath. Just when you think this is going to be a track that guides you to a happy ending out of hell, you are turned around with machine gun drums and more guitar leads than you can handle. Mr. Werstler really showcases his skills for the listener yet tears your face off in the process. At about 4 and a half minutes, the gears switch up another notch with more chugging guitar work and blasting drums that really make you fight your way out of The Age of Hell.
All in all, this was a great album for Chimaira where I was actually worried (funny I know) after wondering how they would be able to top the previous album, The Infection. Make sure to go and get a copy of The Age of Hell and bring the fire and brimstone to your stereo today!
- The Age of Hell
- Losing My Mind
- Time is Running Out
- Year of the Snake
- Beyond the Grave
- Born in Blood
- Trigger Finger