Chimaira: Crown of Phantoms review

Crown of Phantoms coverInjecting new life into the behemoth that is Chimaira, founding member and vocalist Mark Hunter has taken a brave step into new territory, assembling a line-up of musicians to push the band’s sound further into the unrelenting pit of raw distorted metal they feel so at home in. With Hunter on vocals, Emil Werstler on lead guitar, Matt Szlachta on rhythm, Jeremy Creamer on bass, Austin D’amond on drums, and Sean Zartorsky on the electronics, Chimaira are back and poised to take on the metal world once again.

Stepping forth with Crown Of Phantoms, Chimaira are setting out to reinvent themselves, moving into unchartered territory and pushing the boundaries of what they do. In Hunter’s own words – “Assembling the right team was essential to creating what I feel is some of the craziest and most passionate music I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.”

 With eleven tracks of pure, unadulterated, passionate metal on offer, Chimaira could be about to reach the pinnacle moment of their career, hitting out with a fresh outlook, fresh blood, but the same aggression that made albums like The Impossibility Of Reason such milestones.

With “The Machine” kicking the album off, floods of memories come back, lit up with a brighter spotlight on progression and hatred than seen on previous offerings. As dark and distorted as you would expect from the metal titans, the rolling double bass backs up the sludgy undertones from the guitars to force the distorted onslaught down your throat from the off. Hunter’s vocals are as strong as ever, backed up by the bass heavy rhythms and accentuated by the subtle yet effective electronic elements. Werstler even manages to offer up a solo mid-way through just to make sure the track fully hits home, cementing the statement that they’re back and that you had better be ready.

Other tracks such as “No Mercy,” “All That’s Left In Blood” and “Wrapped In Violence” continue to push the down tuned and distorted approach of Chimaira, but it’s title track Crown Of Phantoms that fully defines the new outlook of the band. Packed with aggression from the word go, the title track demonstrates fully the invigorated outlook and refreshed approach to song writing and performance on hand, standing out not only as a serious high point on the album, but also as one in the bands career. It seems fitting that Hunter himself has said – “The past defines us while the present refines us.”

With line-up changes there is always the risk that a certain element of the sound will be lost, resulting in opinions that the band has ‘lost’ something in their new incarnation. Chimaira have avoided that, and whilst different in their approach to previous offerings, still manage to smack you around the head from start to finish and leave you thanking them for the privilege.

Rating: 9/10

-Dave Nicholls