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Chimaira: Crown Of Phantoms

Veteran metal crew rediscover their fire

It's certainly not too harsh a statement to say that it’s been an extremely long ass while since Chimaira captured the hearts and imaginations of the metal world at large – they first emerged, kicking and screaming, way back in 1998 – but Crown Of Phantoms sees the Cleveland, Ohio ragers upping the ante for themselves for the first time in what seems like forever.

Emil Werstler’s transition from rhythm to lead guitar makes its mark instantly on opener The Machine, his playing bringing a whole new dimension of character and musical flair through the whole album, whilst the thick, textured crunch added to the band’s rhythmic playing from new members Matt Szlachta and Jeremy Creamer (from Dirge Within and Dååth respectively) really makes Crown Of Phantoms a more enthralling listen and switches the band’s trademark speed for gut-fucking intensity.

Elsewhere, No Mercy is a watertight chokehold with Mark Hunter’s growls about Hollywood vampires proving particularly ferocious, and the off-kilter chugging of the title-track hits like a knee directly to the bridge of the nose. In truth, it’s pretty doubtful that Chimaira are ever going to get to the point where they’re able to dine at metal’s head table after this long plugging away in the game, but this is the best thing they have put their name to since their self-titled effort from 2005, and their future certainly looks rosier than it has in a very, very long time.