Crown of Phantoms

Written by: MBC on 08/01/2014 03:53:23

Mark Hunter sure is a persistent man. As the sole remaining original member of Chimaira since its formation in 1998, he continues to believe in a band that was once at the forefront of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement in the early to mid 2000s along with bands like Killswitch Engage, God Forbid and Shadows Fall. Line-up changes and internal struggles have always been a part of the band as documented on their DVD “The Dehumanizing Process” (2004). With incredible musicians such as Rob Arnold, Andols Herrick and Matt DeVries now gone from the band, it must have been a difficult task for Hunter to gather the musicians skilled enough to live up to these former greats. Nevertheless, he carries on as the lead vocalist of a band that clearly has had to rejuvenate itself in order to find its place in metal again, a mission which is succeeded on the band’s seventh album entitled “Crown of Phantoms”, which was funded by fans through an Indiegogo campaign. Chimaira has released great records in the past such as “The Impossibility of Reason” (2003), “Chimaira” (2005) and perhaps their best release thus far “Resurrection” (2007). “Crown of Phantoms” joins up with some of these past albums as a rock solid effort.

It seems clear that Mark Hunter’s interest has been re-establishing the band’s status as leaders of American metal, and thus has aligned himself with some very skilled musicians. These include drummer Austin D’Amond of Bleed The Sky fame, and incredible lead guitarist Emil Werstler from Dååth. Anyone familiar with Werstler’s work knows that he brings a high level of musicianship to his projects, and it is no wonder that Hunter has wanted him in the band. He incorporates some of the most technical and impressive guitar solos of the band’s career, for instance on the songs “Crown of Phantoms” and “Kings of the Shadow World”. He adds his own style, which is a bit more technical and progressive, to the band’s arsenal whilst staying true to the classic Chimaira vibe. The groove metal/new-thrash sound that the band has established in the past is still very much present and there are plenty of fast riffs, blasting double bass and slow, heavy parts on this album that will satisfy fans of the band’s previous releases. “Crown of Phantoms” is not a formulaic album. From the straight-forward groove fest of album opener “The Machine” over the short and pretty instrumental track “The Transmigration” to the aggressive thrash/hardcore assault of “Spineless”, there are plenty of highlights and diverse elements to keep the listener interested throughout.

As usual Mark Hunter screams in a very distinctive mid-to-high pitch with occasional lows, which is raw and based in hardcore but also contains death and black metal elements. His diction is clear and overall his delivery on the album is good. His tone of voice has always been somewhat monotonous to listen to, which is okay as long as the vocals are delivered with ferocity. On this new album he has not lost his edge, although some new variations would be appreciated.

In terms of lyrical content it seems that Hunter has had the need to exercise some demons on this album and he is still pretty damn angry. On album opener “The Machine” he screams: “Every struggle opens a door, forget this mortal coil and rise up, the time has come to reboot the machine”. This might be a comment on the state of Chimaira in 2013 in that a complete reboot has been necessary for the band to continue in terms of new members and new energy. This theme of rejuvenation and perseverance is visited again on the title track “Crown of Phantoms”: “I will grow stronger for everything I’d live and die for, erase the ghosts from the past”. Unfortunately, the familiar “fuck you, I’ll kill you” theme is also present, and it does not seem to have gotten any more sophisticated over the years, as heard for instance on “I Despise”: Pathetic waste of life get down on your knees, beg to stay alive, the truth is I can’t fight the urge to smash your fucking head in, to break your fucking face”. Primitive as it is, I guess it would not be a Chimaira album without the hate.

“Crown of Phantoms” is a good album from the “new” Chimaira which fans of the band’s past releases are bound to appreciate. Newcomers can start here as well.

Download: All That’s Left Is Blood, Spineless, Kings of the Shadow World
For the fans of: Fear Factory, Walls of Jericho, Darkest Hour
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 30.07.2013
E1 Music

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