Chimaira is proof that there is life after death.
The months following the release of the band's self-titled third album, despite the record's blistering and undeniably killer content, were a dark time. Band members threatened to leave. There were face-to-face arguments. Problems stacked up with their record label. In Cleveland, it seemed like the sky was falling.
"We had a wall in front of us. The question became: 'Are we going to just stare at it, or get over it?'" recalls Chimaira singer Mark Hunter. "We kicked ourselves in the ass. And now, we have life again."
The sound of that life is nothing less than a sledgehammer to the face.
An album cooked up in the rehearsal room with no pretenses beyond "making the heaviest music possible," like when the band began back in 1998. From the anthemic momentum of the title track to the epic experimentation of "Six" through the album's fist-pumping, breakneck-speed closing track, "Empire," Resurrection - Chimaira's first album for Ferret Music - is the sound of a band reborn.
"When we began writing we said, 'Let's just have fun writing this record. Let's not over-analyze anything,'" Hunter explains. "It felt like it did when we first started. After getting everyone in a circle, telling each other to fuck off, and getting all the demons out, we're all the best of friends again."
Resurrection is an electric charge through the world of metal and hard rock. Had the band decided to call it quits, they would have left behind a legacy their friends and peers could scarcely duplicate.
With their groundbreaking blend of metal, hardcore and electronic elements, Chimaira made a splash with a self-released EP that sold nearly 10,000 copies. Their debut album, Pass out of Existence, followed in 2001. But The Impossibility of Reason blew the lid off, putting the band on the road with Slipknot, Machine Head, Lamb Of God and Ozzfest. And then 2005's Chimaira raised the bar again.
But it was a hard record to make. "We were overly-analytical. We were studying how each person was picking a part!" Hunter laughs, looking back. "I'm proud of that record, but it sucked the life out of us."
This time around everything changed. For starters, guitarist Rob Arnold wrote nearly all of the last album by himself. Resurrection was a group effort. "We rejoined as a band, instead of a one-man show. Rob had a 'hot' hand on the last album, that was cool. But this time, everyone seemed to have a hot hand. The album is more of a roller coaster. It's a good mixture of our last two records, but it's all on steroids."
The biggest evidence of the newfound teamwork comes in the form of "Six," a song that began as a strange experiment. Guitarist Matt DeVries came up with three minutes of riffs on his own while Arnold and Hunter did the same. Next the entire band hit the practice room and mashed it all up.
"We took each other's riffs and built one of my favorite songs we've ever written in a matter of a few hours," Hunter exclaims. "It's so fun to listen to because it's so all-over-the-place. It really shows all of the sides of this band. Especially the stuff [drummer] Andols [Herrick] came up with. People will have aneurysms trying to figure out the time signatures at the end!"
Another big change is in the outro. Chimaira is known for having long, slow, nearly all-instrumental album closers. Resurrection goes out with a bang. "'Empire' is borderline black metal in parts," Mark laughs. "We really challenged ourselves on that one. We wanted to make something atypical of us."
Unsurprisingly it's the album's title track that best sums up the reborn Chimaira. "It's a document of the last five years. We're saying 'fuck all the bad times' and that we're in a much better place now," says Hunter. "That song kind of sets up the theme of the entire record, really."
Crushingly positive self-image? Check. Strength through perseverance? Yep. Album of their career? Duh. So, with their insides all stitched back together and ready for war, where does Chimaira see themselves within the greater heavy metal landscape?
"We're the kids that aren't allowed to play on the playground. We've always set out to do our own thing. The fact that we push ourselves and make different kinds of records all the time and still stay true to who we were when we started, I think that's why our fans are so loyal."
And so it is that Chimaira enters 2007 with a clean slate and a work of art that's more of an arsenal than album, full of their hardest hitting bombshells. The ceiling is gone. There are no lofty expectations, which ironically, further ensures that the sky is the limit. "I just want to go out and have fun with it and see the reaction for ourselves. We're humbled now. Compared to maybe where we were two albums ago," Hunter laughs. "The fact that I don't have to deliver pizzas on the side, that's great. We just want to go out, see what this album can do, and be surprised."