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Chimaira attends one of many warehouse funerals.
Courtesy Roadrunner Records

Music Interview: Chimaira resurrects American metal

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With Bermuda Shorts Day nearly upon us, we need to pick up our book-bludgeoned and bloodied bodies, slowly regain our monitor-induced fuzzy vision and look towards the sweet nectar of the Gods before us. A popular weapon in students' battles to forget the tests looming before us like judgement from the academic beast is the black gold hailed as Jagermeister. Those Godlike beings responsible for raining Jagermeister from the heavens remind us that in the war of life, music tames even the most savage beast. Or in the case of the tour Jagermeister brings to MacEwan Hall on April 15 featuring Chimaira and Arch Enemy with their allies God Forbid and Hate Eternal, it tears the beast apart.

"We are happily sponsored by Jagermeister," explains Rob Arnold, guitarist of Chimaira to the delight of BSD revellers everywhere.

Having just released their third self-titled album, Arnold and his bandmates have matured and are ready to be a forerunner for the mighty brute that is metal. Arnold is quick to point out that the battle has not been easy.

"We just took a three month break at the beginning of the year and that was probably the first break we've ever taken since the band started," he states. "It's a lot of hard work but that's what you got to do."

The fruits of their labour are starting to bloom. With each show they play and each album they release the band is making their presence felt in the metal world. Unleashing their third album at the end of last year Chimaira showed maturation in their music.

"It's a lot to digest and there's a lot going on musically, the songs are pretty lengthy and they have a real strong structure to them," explains Arnold. "Instead of just jamming something out, what we wanted to do was to build chapters so it takes a few listens to understand what's going on and to appreciate it."

Arnold points out how Chimaira learned from bands like Metallica and Megadeth, using their influence in their self-titled release. Proving their mission successful, Chimaira garnered the attention of one of the aforementioned legends by being asked to record a version of "Disposable Heroes" for a 20 year anniversary of Metallica's Master of Puppets album for Kerang! magazine.

"It was sick, I'm a giant Metallica fan so it was awesome to be a part of it," Arnold exclaims. "We decided to go with 'Disposable Heroes' because it was more our style, but it was tough. There was a time when I was younger that I'd go through the tab books and play the songs, but it'd been awhile and Metallica is Metallica because of how great they are in terms of musicianship. It was tough to learn that song in four or five days with the solo and everything and we wanted it to sound bad-ass too."

In the metal scene there is a definite difference in the sound coming from the United States and Europe. Chimaira sides strongly on the American side drawing influence from Metallica and Pantera. In fact, the first single off Chimaira has a strong connection to departed Pantera guitar legend Dimebag Darryl.

"A local news station wanted to interview us about what happened [the shooting of Dimebag by a crazed fan during a concert] because it happened two hours south of us in Columbus, Ohio and we're from Cleveland," Arnold describes of the interview which occurred during a writing session and nearly stopped the process because of heavy hearts.

"Mark [lead singer] was like 'fuck it, what would Dime do?' So I just picked up the guitar and belted out that first riff and the whole thing just came together. The lyrics don't have anything to do with it or anything like that, it just happened to be that that inspired the ferocity of it."

With metal music gaining more and more fans each day, Chimaira hopes to help bring the genre they love back from the underground. With their steady progression and busy tour schedule Chimaira is fighting hard for the cause and showing people some of the greatness the scene has to offer.

"I think things are coming back," Arnold says. "I think in four to five years it'll be back to what it was in the early '90s and late '80s but we'll see, who's to say?"

In the meantime Arnold and his band will continue with their mission, crushing heads and blowing eardrums all the way.

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