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ageofhellIt’s hard to believe that it’s already been nearly twelve years since a then-unknown band called CHIMAIRA rocked the stage on the short-lived Farmclub on the USA Network. I was watching the show as it aired for the first time – when the band performed Dead Inside, a song that I later acquired through Napster in demo form and would later appear on their Roadrunner debut PASS OUT OF EXISTENCE in 2001. Now the Cleveland band finds themselves re-birthed with a new lineup, a new label, and a new album that just may be their best since 2003’s THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF REASON.

While their first album felt flat, their second hit a stride that the band never really seemed to recapture. There were always some great moments, but the focused attack was never  again delivered with such precision until now.

THE AGE OF HELL (out this week via eOne Music) is a sonic beast that is worthy of your full attention. From the opening samples on the title track, which feel like a throwback to the earliest days of the band, this album collects the best parts of CHIMAIRA and assembles them for a new decade with some new bells and whistles.Losing My Mind bends the slow heavy grooves, while Year of the Snake sounds as if CHIMAIRA joined with ALICE IN CHAINS for some kind of sinister sonic Voltron. Born in Blood feels like an homage to the might of SLAYER with it’s opening riff, while managing to lift a riff from MEGADETH’s Skin O My Teeth at the 2:01 mark. Trigger Finger, one of the first new songs to be performed live and land on YouTube, is ferocious – with the band working to seamlessly allow each element of their personality and instrumentation to have perfect balance and breathing room.

Bottom Line: With 50% new members, CHIMAIRA sounds closer to their original form than they have in years. A great album.

Rating: 4/5

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