When I started seeing the posts online about the new Chimaira album coming out, I’m going to admit that I wasn’t overly amped to get it. To be fair, I’m a long time Chimaira fan. I got my copy of Pass Out of Existence back in 2001 and have purchased a physical copy of every new album they have put out since then. However, the music they have been putting out in recent years just hasn’t struck me the right way. The Infection just didn’t have the strong songwriting I was used to, then there was the mass exodus of band members and introduction of new members. The Age of Hell came out and just didn’t really feel like the band was meshing very well, and then both guitarists exit the band. With Mark Hunter on vocals being the only original member, I just didn’t know what to expect.
As I’m at the store picking up the CD (yeah, in 2013 I’m still one of those guys who goes and buys physical CD’s), I see there is a sticker on the front that says the album has a ‘I Hate Everyone vibe’ to it. Obviously to a Chimaira fan, this makes you think of the song ‘Pure Hatred’ off of The Impossibility of Reason album, which in my mind was their strongest album to date. Putting that kind of label on your CD almost felt like a band saying they are going back to their roots: we’ve all heard it a thousand times and rarely does it meet your expectations. So now I’m even more nervous about what I’m about to purchase.
After giving this album a few good listens, I have a lot to take away from it, and for the most part it is all positive. Just remember, this is the new Chimaira, and the make-up of musicians is quite different from before. Three of the members are from Atlanta-based band Dååth. If you have not heard Dååth, you are doing yourself a disservice, but that’s for another time. Knowing Dååth’s music greatly helps in appreciating the new sound of Chimaira. Emil Werstler has a distinct guitar style that is a good bit different from Rob Arnold’s writing style, and you can easily hear that on Crown of Phantoms. I’m in no way saying it’s not awesome, it’s just evident in the song structures and especially on his solo runs that it’s no longer Rob Arnold, so be prepared.
Overall, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised with this album, and in my opinion it’s the best thing they have put out since Resurrection. The ‘I Hate Everyone vibe’ sticker on the front of the CD held true as Hunter’s vocals are as brutal as ever. Tracks like ‘Spineless’ and ‘I Despise’ bring out true aggression, while there are tracks like ‘Kings of the Shadow World’ that made me reminisce back to ‘Pictures in the Gold Room’ off of The Impossibility of Reason. The vibe of this album is everything you’d expect from Chimaira, but from a fresh perspective. Excellent guitar solos prevail throughout and a solid rhythm section ties everything together. And, with Sean Zatorsky (lead singer of Dååth) providing backing vocals along with keys and samples, this album is a recipe for success. After being so apprehensive, I’ve got another solid Chimaira CD in my collection that I’m eager to talk about with others.
Here at Kosher Metal, it’s all about the horns, and Crown of Phantoms deserves a solid rating.
4/5 Horns to the sky!
Chimaira will be tearing up the Midwest this month, so make sure if they are in your area to get out to the club and support. Check out their tour dates and all other info on their website
As always, keep it metal, and turn it up!
KM Music Review Editor