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Chimaira's "The Age of Hell" is a return to form. Not saying the breakdown-heavy "The Infection" was bad, but it just didn't sound like a Chimaira record. It was pretty heavy and Mark Hunter and friends tried something new, but it just didn't work. The Age of Hell combines all things Chimaira, from the newly added breakdowns of "The Infection" to the nu-metal aspects of "Pass Out of Existence". It's truly a fantastic record and would rank this up there with the best 2011 NWOAHM albums.
The first song on the album sounds straight out of "The Impossibility of Reason"-era of Chimaira where they really found their sound. "The Age of Hell" track is very fast, almost thrash-like, and is an excellent choice for the title/intro track. It really shows what to expect on the album. From there, the album goes into the almost nu-metal "Clockwork" tune that is somewhat forgettable. This is probably one of the only forgettable songs (next to "Beyond the Grave") on the disc.
Then comes the change up of "Losing My Mind" and "Time is Running Out". These two tunes are pretty slow, but enjoyable. If one wanted to hear something more brutal, then they would skip to track 5 which is the more popular song on the album, "Year of the Snake". It is a very catchy song with a sick breakdown at 2:10 that makes this song one of the heaviest on the album. "Beyond the Grave" is the slowest song on the album. With that being said, it doesn't make it a bad tune, just not very "Chimaira".
The rest of the songs on this album brings out the brutality of Chimaira. "Born in Blood", "Trigger Finger", and "Scapegoat" are insanely catchy and heavy and make this a true NWOAHM album. The only thing that is puzzling is the song "Stoma". It sounds like it should be the intro track and throws off the balance of the record. It flows into "Powerless" pretty well, but "Born in Blood" is before that, which is easily the heaviest song on the album. It doesn't make sense to take the heaviest song on the album, go into a one-minute instrumental track, then go into the also slow "Powerless" to then go right back into "Trigger Finger". The album ends with the traditional end instrumental track of "Samsara". "Samsara" is like the past instrumental songs on previous records and shows all the talent of the other members of the band. This is something that also doesn't really click because usually all the solos come out during the last song. "The Infection" was the same way with the mind-blowing "The Heart Of It All". "Samsara" is only 6 minutes long this time instead of the occasional 10+ minutes of past instrumental tunes. This talent should have been displayed on the whole album, not just the very last song.
As stated about the epicness of the solos on "Samsara", it just doesn't make sense to only include them on that song. Other songs had very minuscule guitar parts that really made an impact on the song. For this album, Emil Werstler did the solo for Samsara and as this review is being written, he has become permanent in Chimaira, but hopefully for the next album they use his talent more often. The only member you truly hear on this album is Matt DeVries' rhythm guitar. As for Rob Arnold, it's almost nonexistent.
This album is fantastic for only being made by a few people and a couple guest musicians with Mark Hunter being the only constant member of this band. As stated previously, this album is up there as one of the best NWOAHM records. It has everything you want in a Chimaira record. Everything from their first album to "The Infection" plays out on this disc and for that I think it is very unique. Chimaira doesn't stick to one sound and I praise them for that. You get a little bit of everything on "The Age of Hell". Definitely pick it up.
Best songs on "The Age of Hell": "The Age of Hell", "Year of the Snake", "Scapegoat", "Trigger Finger", and "Born in Blood".