Chimaira - Crown Of Phantoms review


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Band: Chimaira
Album: Crown Of Phantoms
Release date: July 2013

01. The Machine
02. No Mercy
03. All That's Left Is Blood
04. I Despise
05. Plastic Wonderland
06. The Transmigration
07. Crown Of Phantoms
08. Spineless
09. Kings Of The Shadow World
10. Wrapped In Violence
11. Love Soaked Death
12. New Apocalypse [bonus]

The dying gasps of a once great band.

By 2013, Chimaira were a band running out of steam, losing momentum with each successive line-up switch and shifting trends that they were unable to capitalise on. Crown Of Phantoms is the dying roar from a band who still had the ability to make some great music, but were unable to fully bring these talents to bare and were falling over themselves trying to.

Indeed, this sound of confusion resonates through the music and highlights how close the band were to creating some strong material whilst remaining one or two key ingredients away from doing so. The opening track "The Machine" starts the album off mired in this conundrum; while the song comes close to being a solid track, it is let down by the lack of a strong main riff, with the one it contains sounding out of place and weak. Add into it the clunky segues into different parts of the song and you have a song that encapsulates Chimaira around this time period.

Crown Of Phantoms effectively replicates this feeling throughout the album, tracks that come close to being good but are either let down by weak sections or poor songwriting; "I Despise" and "Kings Of The Shadow World" fall into the former camp, while "Wrapped In Violence" and "Plastic Wonderland" sit in the latter section. While none of the four tracks are
bad, they are pale imitations of the quality the band produced just six years ago on a release like Resurrection.

It is ironic then that the band had reached their lowest ebb owing to line-up changes when Crown Of Phantoms features one of the band's strongest line-ups in years. Counting among their ranks Austin D'Amond and Matt Szlatcha, two very underrated musicians, Chimaira seemed primed to regain their composure. Although the departure of long time member Rob Arnold reverberated throughout this album, Szlatcha was a capable replacement, but he fell victim to what I feel was the main problem of the album; it sounds unnatural and born out of chaos, with neither new member able to really bring their talents to the fore.

When the band are all on the same page and have strong tracks to work with, they are able to produce some hands-down bangers ala "No Mercy", "Spineless" and the title track, ensuring that the band didn't go out without a fight. Each one of these three tracks highlight how the band weren't down and out on account of shifting tastes and styles of the time; when they were able to click they made for just as compelling listening as before.

It is ironic then that the one constant throughout all the line-up changes sounds like the weak link: Hunter. Having led the band since its inception, on Crown Of Phantoms he sounds like he is on autopilot throughout, never giving his all and sounding distracted or disinterested. "Plastic Wonderland" for example sees him give a half-hearted performance that undermines the atmosphere the song wants to portray; rather than sounding menacing and brooding, he sounds like he just eases up on his regular approach rather than trying something different.

With the news that the band were due to reform this year, hopefully the band are able to return more enthused than when they broke up and don't just pick up where they left off. Crown Of Phantoms is a listenable record for sure, but when you consider the fact the band have put out far more enjoyable material prior, Chimaira give you little reason to listen to this album over those.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Written on 12.11.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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