In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10th, Down Again, a documentary about mental health featuring Mark Hunter of Chimaira will get a worldwide release. Although not a film strictly about Mark’s time as the frontman of Chimaira, it does include music and scenes from his life in music. Hunter will share his personal story about utilizing his art to battle personal struggles and bipolar disorder in the film. Directed by Nick Cavalier – also recognized for directing Derek Hess’ award-winning Forced Perspective documentary – and will be free and available to stream at the link below. Watch the trailer and teaser clips below. Continue reading
Compared with last year when I had already started January off with five shows in three weeks, 2014 started rather quiet. These days as Ghost Cult’s chief editor, I simply don’t get out as much as I used to. So you know I wouldn’t brave the (over-hyped) Polar Vortex conditions and hazardous roads for just any show, but I did for Chimaira. It has been well documented that a lot of other bands would have quit in the face of adversity ten times over after what these guys have been through. Still, what keeps me interested as a journalist and earns my respect as a fan is their dedication to take every negative and turn it into a positive, and in the most hostile way conceivable musically. So with a planned set list “Celebrating the Chaos” of their career, and on the strength of another tour supporting the excellent Crown of Phantoms (eOne) release, I was all in for this.
With my buddy and photog for the night Chris Small in tow, we got the the Palladium early in time to get in and mingle with some of our local metal brethren. Beers and Happy New Year’s greetings out of the way and we were ready to get hopping. Starting things off was Reflections, who played a pretty typical bunch of screamy death-core. I was immediately shocked by how bored to tears they looked on this, the first night of the tour. Their emotionless faces, except for the front man James Foster, put me off in a big way. I just couldn’t figure out why. They have enough potential musically for me to say I will give them another shot down the road. Second openers Fit For An Autopsy could not be more different in how they set it off from their first notes. I have seen these guys grow steadily more and more impressive over time and they are definitely coming into their own. Straddling the tech-death/traditional death metal horse with an occasionally fierce breakdown, it was hard not to be amped up for every second of their set. See this is what an opening band should do, be a cool warmup act, and provide a hint of what is to come the rest of the night.
Oceano is one of those bands for me, that it really depends on the day or the show how I feel about them. They have made some killer songs and there is no denying their ability to pump up a crowd and throw down in the death metal/deathcore style. You could also single out their fans in the house on this night by who looked like they were their to punch people, and not really there to watch the show. I’d feel bad about per-judging some of these pit ninjas, but for the most part, I was proven right by the end of their set when about 25% of the crowd left. On the plus side, Oceano is over that entire we’re quitting/we’re back phase and they are just out for blood right now. Front man Adam Warren was all over that tiny stage, imploring the crowd to get violent and trying to drum up their energy. Based on the crowd response during ‘Contagion’, that energy was high. Warren also had some compelling things to say about being a hungry band with a new record out, (Depths on Earache) that not a lot of people know about.
Iwrestledabearonce is in a good place in the penultimate spot in the line-up on this tour. They confound and anger the battle-vest wearing set with their wry sense of humour and mashing-up of sub genres. Seeing all of the day glow shirts, booty shorts, and tons of core kids, outside opinion doesn’t matter tonight as the band came out and crushed it. Playing a short (for them) set of their hits plus a few recent tracks from Late For Nothing (Century Media), the band made the odd choice of having some of their typical production value from their headline set. Strobe lights and amp covers/banners seem a little out of place on the tiny stage when no one else had them, but it is part of their schtick I guess. Courtney LaPlant has really risen to the challenge of coming into a popular band and replacing a popular singer and she has killed it on every level, ever since. Her stage persona makes for the perfect master of ceremonies, and she slays all the material in case you still had doubts. Closing with ‘Tatses Like Kevin Bacon’ is a reminder why this band made it in the first place. These guys are still growing I think it will be exciting to see where they take it next.
The front line gear was removed for a very simple set up as the remaining crowd filled in the front of the stage. I watched from a perch in the balcony, in relative safety, mindful of the the many brutal Chimaira mosh pits I have been tossed around in. The change over was quick as the fans were ready for the final music of the night to ring out. The band took the stage and immediately launched into ‘Cleansation’ and it was pure bedlam in the pit. The band was tight as usual, and as usual on the side of the pit was a group of Eli Werstler worshipers. Watching Eli shred and abuse his guitar is worth the price of admission alone, and he has absolutely carried the mantle of great guitar work in the band. Of course Mark Hunter is front and center in the midst of the chaos. He is always focused, connecting with the crowd and really seems to enjoy his job with an evil relish. The set list was carefully crafted showing the greatness of the bands history, as well as the recent albums too. Sean Z helps take the music to another level with his terrific backing vocals. People forget sometimes that Sean fronted his own, worthy band in Daath not too long ago.
Like a well-oiled machine the band cut through the set list of hits and deep cuts. Mark smiled and cracked jokes between songs, and then menaced and scowled appropriately to the material such as ‘Crown of Phantoms’, ‘Pure Hatred’, and ‘Power Trip’. Simple, Brutal, and tight describes the relentless performance, more akin to a boxing champion than a metal band. ‘The Dehumanizing Process’ for years was a great choice as a set opener, but here towards the end of the night it proves the strength and talent of the band. I finally shed my fear and ran down to the floor to Eli’s side of the stage, of course, to finish out the night. Not quite an encore, but more like an extended ending ‘Resurrection’ would have been a fine choice to end the set. However, the band stayed on stage to play the song that is their new video, ‘Wrapped In Violence’. Proving how strong their last album as with this bruising cut, and hearing everyone left in the venue screaming their lungs out, was killer. What a way to start what promises to be a great year of concerts.
Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Photos: By CWS Photography
It’s often said that struggle and strife creates the best art and this rings especially true for Ohio’s favourite hybrid metal act, Chimaira. After a two year period of internal turmoil and continuous line-up changes the band is back with a brand new album Crown of Phantoms and are stronger than ever. Vocalist Mark Hunter discusses with Ghost Cult the emotional journey he’s embarked upon to be where he is now. Continue reading
Over the last few years, Chimaira have been through tons of upheaval. The band are no strangers to line-up changes throughout their existence, but this time around only singer Mark Hunter remained. The current lineup consists of (former) Daath, Dirge Within and Bleed The Sky members. Let’s see whether Chimaira 2.0 is able to keep the flame alive. Continue reading