Chimaira: Crown of Phantoms

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Chimaira: Crown of Phantoms
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Chimaira: Crown of Phantoms
Groove Metal, Metalcore
eOne Entertainment
July 30th, 2013
Release length: 44:26
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Chimaira have returned with their seventh full-length effort, Crown of Phantoms. Announced as what will be their darkest album yet, many fans have been chomping at the bit, waiting to get their hands on such a promising concept. With their Groove Metal influence growing stronger than their Post-Thrash performances as of late, the band has been falling a bit on the mediocre side since Resurrection, causing a riff within those devoted over the years, though largely still finding success within that collective, and outside it. Will this new entry be another well done outing, or is it another step in the wrong direction?

The Industrial start to Crown of Phantoms will immediately remind listeners of mid-career Fear Factory, as do some of the additional effects later on in some verses and bridges. The chorus is a little more melodic than the rest of the track, finding some decent hooks against harsher vocal harmonizations that are surprisingly dull. The atmosphere here is largely dark, reflecting much of the album, though the tracks conclusion is definitely a lot heavier with some glorious sounding riffs. “Plastic Wonderland” carries a very dismal environment that is backed by slower riffs that work with the restrained vocals. The pace does pick up naturally in the chorus, adding some faster bass kicks with some additional heat to the harsher vocals, and some nice that the guitar distortion seems to pick up. The build to the guitar solo is interesting, again finding more of an Industrial touch, and prior to it there is a brief bridge that sends you on a drug filled nightmare. This creeps up during the closing breakdown, though not having quite the same bite.

“All That’s Left is Blood” builds up tension nicely in the introduction thanks to the echoed riffs drums that get richer. Sadly, when the music does kick in, there’s no real eruption, or even a simple bass drop that would logically follow. Instead those drops appear at random a little later, placed largely at pointless times that pose no benefit to the music. The guitar solo is a bit rough at first, but what follows is a burst of energy this album desperately needs, hammering away on the drums with enthusiastic screaming before another drop kicks in with a little more power to the groove filled performance. This somewhat dull performance really does sum up a good number of tracks on Crown of Phantoms, a trait that is broken on some later songs that end up hitting you rather hard, or at the very least seem to walk the line like “Kings of the Shadow World.” Just under five and a half minutes, the song has a consistent heaviness and solid Groove to many tracks thanks largely to the stronger bass guitar presence and tighter drumming. There also are two Progressive keyboard bits that suit the darker environment the band is going for, though the first feels placed in the wrong spot, being a rather sudden drop to the fluid performance. But, for the most part, the blunt music with a hint of additional aggression does make it stand out a little more

As mentioned, things do pick up, and that’s about the time of “The Transmigration.” This is an interesting instrumental piece, taking on what feels like a darker Fantasy film score from the eighties. This is a surprisingly moving piece, especially towards the end when the acoustic chords really pick up and break a glimmer of light amid the ominous clouded skies before the thunder rolls in and erases all traces of hope before the crushing riffs of “Crown of Phantoms” kicks in. There is a good deal of melody in this one, which ends up bringing in some altered clean singing at times. It seems like Chimaira is trying to do a bit too much here, but it all works out in the long run thanks to smooth transitions between the Groove and melodic hooks, and even the breakdown is packed with enough energy and extra speed that you will want to start tearing things down immediately, more so by the time you reach the more burdening one at the end.

It’s immediately obvious that Chimaira is trying to do something a lot darker than normal, getting away from their generally pissed off performances and into a creepy, sometime nightmarish world. Unfortunately, the music just sounds bland to the point where even the band seems to be half-assing it most of the time. Crown of Phantoms just seems to find Chimaira working outside their comfort zone, branching into some Industrial elements as well that don’t always sound too unique either. But, the atmosphere does remain consistent throughout the album, which shows that there is an obvious and well established goal in mind for it that just didn’t transition too well. If this is the future sound of Chimaira, it definitely needs some fine tuning before their next effort.

01. The Machine – 4:02
02. No Mercy – 4:30
03. All That’s Left Is Blood – 3:17
04. I Despise – 3:47
05. Plastic Wonderland – 5:05
06. The Transmigration – 2:26
07. Crown Of Phantoms – 3:59
08. Spineless – 3:18
09. Kings Of The Shadow World – 5:23
10. Wrapped In Violence – 4:23
11. Love Soaked Death – 4:17
Initial Pressing Score: 4/10

 (band)
Chimaira

Digital review copy of this release provided by eOne Entertainment.