Chimaira – Resurrection Review

Originally written by David Ochoa.

I keep hoping to be proven wrong.  I keep hoping that Chimaira will somehow fulfill the potential they have always shown glimpses of having in a curveball album that is consistently uncompromising, nerve-firing and head-spinning.  Resurrection is their fourth full-length in their eight year career, and it sounds like they’re still a ways from making a genuine dent in a jaded but eager metalhead’s heart.

First impressions aren’t great.  Unexpected simplicity is clear right from the first listen, with “Black Heart” and “Empire” laying out highly repetitive basic thrash chugs that might have had slight appeal if they were clad in a half-way nostalgic production.  “End It All” is a stronger example with song transitions crossing from half-thrash strolls to double-bass powered metalcore chops, calling to mind the usual but appropriate Pantera and Fear Factory references.  The drumming that powers Resurrected firmly keeps the energy and pace moving with simple but driven groove beats and an ear-pleasing dexterity on the pedals, and holds everything together long enough for another harlequin to make itself noticed.  Mark Hunter’s voice, overloud in the mix, is a gaudy and chaotic factor across the album and in turn highlights other problems.  Although of three distinct kinds (clean, talking and his distinctive dry howl), subtle nuances in keyboard usage, electronics and vocal studio polish make him sound at different times like Devin Townsend, Rob Zombie, Secthdaemon, Shagrath or Troy Sanders.  As much as that sort of vaguely eccentric and possibly conceited polish might put me off the whole package, other moments such as the almost Decapitated-like fury introducing “No Reason To Live”, or the blood pumping, Gojira-plagiarising stomp of “Needle” get my attention every time they pass.

There are more rewards for that hard won attention.  The nine and a half minute lope of “Six” is dripping with electronics and even a few riffs with eyebrow-raising Middle-Eastern scales, but definitely shows some of the maturity they’ve been acquiring in their quest for metal.  Unhurried, chorusing guitars and lengthy compositions of slower chords echo the darker atmospheres unveiled on their previous effort.  It throws in the unnecessary but expected clean chorus that the current Soilwork and Threat Signal markets will just love, but we also get to hear what Lamb of God might have become if they had ever taken cues from In-Quest.  “The Flame” sounds particularly like the latter, with an application of rhythm and melody that suggest Chimaira aren’t out of the modern metal marathon yet.

I have to return to the clean vocals in tracks like “Pleasure In Pain” to illustrate why this release leaves me ultimately crestfallen.  Mark Hunter’s greatly increased usage of flat, oily whining communicates little more than a lack of songwriting tact, and lyrics that in 2007 really stretch the term cliché.  I was going to demonstrate some, but I find it difficult to remember the lyrics even as they’re sung because they are so impossibly mundane and insipid, so I can’t help but find the sentiments on Resurrection manufactured, cookie-cutter and a bit pathetic.  Let me put it this way, they’re starting to give Throwdown a run for their pomp money.  These ongoing themes and angsts are old ghosts incongruous with Chimaira’s flashes of real metal competence, and set a shallow tone for a sound that keeps coming-off as mainstream and insincere as a result.

Here’s a handy and proven conclusion to make: If you like ’em, you’ll like this, if you don’t, your mind won’t be changed. Either way, Chimaira will need to start putting their talent where it counts in the future, or they’ll simply fade out of these crowded times.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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