Chimaira - The Age Of Hell
E1 Music
Groove Metal
12 songs (49:50)
Release year: 2011
Chimaira, E1 Music
Reviewed by Goat

Having raised hopes with their 2005 self-titled and struggled to remain relevant ever since, Cleveland-based modern metallers Chimaira are lucky to still be around, and everyone knows it. Whatever they do, whether go for your throats with aggression (Resurrection) or slow down and attempt atmosphere (The Infection) the metal public seems not interested one bit. Depressingly, I can’t see that changing with the release of The Age Of Hell, a disappointment despite it being a slight step up from The Infection. It’s a mild modernisation of the modern metal template, groovy riffs and snarled vocals atop a vaguely metalcore-y base, given a sense of desperation with the revelation that the producer played drums – Chimaira have always had trouble in that department, so it’s not really a surprise that the drumstool was officially empty here. For the most part, a simplified Lamb Of God-esque assault is what the band rely on to batter the listener, the opening title track foraying into atmospheric whispers and electronic fuzz, neither disguising the lack of ideas at the song’s heart.

This is an experience that happens again and again, despite the occasional track which offers a little hope. One of these is the surprising Clockwork, some off-kilter riffing at start and end interrupted by an almost ambient Eastern instrumental section, although the effect is spoilt a little with the repetition of a lunkheaded chorus. Year Of The Snake gets an extra layer of technicality with djentery sprinkled over the top, devolving into almost deathcore heaviness, and Born In Blood goes all Slayer on your ass with thrashy aggression that, again, drops into deathcore complete with a guest spot from Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel, ending with some decent soloing. If the band could have managed a few more of these then the album may well have been genuinely good. Instead, we get the slow, dull crunch of Losing My Mind, a throwback to The Infection’s lack of character, and the all-too-predictably mosh-happy Time Is Running Out which has some decent riffage but is damaged by the reliance on vocal hooks.

The sirens and displaced effects of Powerless show promise, merging with the track’s air of restrained violence well, but for a band on their sixth full-length Chimaira should really be capable of better results than this. By the time you’ve reached Trigger Finger, a track of relative complexity and skill compared to others, you’ll be too worn out with the faceless aggression that sounds it to really appreciate it, and not even a rather good six-minute instrumental finale in the form of Samsara, with lead guitar all over the place, does more than hint at what could have been. And the less said about the bonus cover of The TroggsWild Thing, the better... Chimaira have now been in existence long enough for their lack of identity to be their very selling point to metalheads happy for their riff-fix to sound vaguely like several bands at once; yet when the songs are lacking, what point is there in bothering? The score given is generous.

Killing Songs :
Year Of The Snake, Born In Blood, Trigger Finger, Samsara
Goat quoted 64 / 100
Other albums by Chimaira that we have reviewed:
Chimaira - The Infection reviewed by Goat and quoted 61 / 100
Chimaira - Resurrection reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Chimaira - Chimaira reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Chimaira - The Impossibility of Reason reviewed by Aaron and quoted 36 / 100
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