Metal File: Chimaira, Arch Enemy, Madball & More News That Rules

Drummer Andols Herrick returns for LP that's 'super-catchy without being Fall Out Boy,' says frontman Mark Hunter.

What many consider to be one of the best metal albums of 2005, Chimaira’s self-titled third offering sounded fist-tight, innovative and hungry.

Made after the 2004 departure of drummer Andols Herrick, who had grown tired of touring and wanted to return to school, the album was recorded in an atmosphere of discord, animosity and depression. And while Herrick’s replacement, ex-Dying Fetus member Kevin Talley, was musically proficient, he and frontman Mark Hunter didn’t get along on tour.

“Something didn’t feel right, and we always wished Andols never left,” explained Hunter. “It was like having a girlfriend leave you. There were a couple guys, including myself, who wanted to leave the band because we felt like we were out there killing ourselves for nothing, and it didn’t look like anything was going to change.”

Then came the Roadrunner United concert in New York at the end of 2005, an event that not only brought together past and present artists from Roadrunner Records, but also reunited Chimaira with Herrick. The drummer took the stage for two songs, and by the end of the night any thoughts of ditching the band for his degree had vanished in the din. “When he was up there, his face lit up like a kid at a birthday party,” Hunter said. “Right after that, he said to me, ‘This is what I need to be doing in my life.’ He rejoined the band soon after.”

With Herrick back in the fold, Chimaira negotiated their way off Roadrunner, because they weren’t seeing eye-to-eye with the label. Then the musicians sat down for a heart-to-heart to air their grievances and hatch a plan for the future. Realizing they all still shared the same vision and goals, Chimaira returned with renewed enthusiasm and a new level of determination, and started writing their fourth album Resurrection, which comes out March 6 on their new label, Ferret Music.

“We named the album Resurrection because that’s exactly what it was,” Hunter said. “When we talked, we got everything off our chests and out of our systems, and now we’re friends again. And we’re writing and playing better than ever.”

While Chimaira was mostly written by guitarist Rob Arnold, this time Hunter and guitarist Matt DeVries shared the songwriting duties, resulting in a far more eclectic album that ranges from simple and driving to complex and meandering. “It’s a bit all over the place in a good way,” Hunter said. “I think it’s a good combination of [2003's] The Impossibility of Reason and the self-titled record. But I think that there’s so much more energy behind it because everyone was so excited to be back together.”

In addition to being more diverse, many of the songs are also longer. Hunter said the average track length is six minutes, and one number clocks in at 10 minutes. At the same time, he insisted that the progressive arrangements don’t detract from the hookiness of the album.

“It’s super-catchy without being Fall Out Boy or something,” Hunter said. “There are really fantastic hooks that people are gonna latch onto right away as opposed to the last album where it might take you a few listens to get what we were doing. And it’s not one of those records where you get it right away, and then three days later you’re done with it. This is something you’re gonna want to listen to over and over again. I say that because I don’t listen to our records, but this record is still in my CD player.”

Chimaira recorded Resurrection in October and November with producer Jason Suecof (Trivium, God Forbid) and Andy Sneap (Machine Head, Arch Enemy). Even though they didn’t have a record contact when they started, for the first time ever they felt no pressure.

“It seemed like these songs took minutes to write,” Hunter said. “We’d come in with a riff and the song would be done that day. We weren’t over-analytical about anything. We just went for it and it was lots of fun. Me and Andols were making jokes because we were really into lifting weights, so, if a riff wasn’t heavy enough, we would start pretending we were doing yoga. And once the riff got heavy, we would start doing some skull-crushers. We just had to get rid of what we called the estrogen riffs, and keep the stuff that really wrecked.”

The band’s jocularity continued outside of the studio. At one point, Hunter even pushed the wheelchair-bound Suecof into a swimming pool — not that he didn’t ask for it.

“He’s so talented and he has a great ear and a gift for getting sh– out of you that you didn’t know you had, but he has really bad ADD,” Hunter explained. “The dude would say, ‘OK, we’re gonna start at 1,’ then he’d roll in at 4 o’clock and go, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know we were recording today. OK, we’ll I’m just gonna go make some food, smoke a cigarette and sit on MySpace for a while.’ And we’d be like, ‘Are you f—ing kidding me? Get to work, a–hole.’ So, we had to wheel him into the studio more than we’d wanted to, but it was all worth it for what he brought out of us.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Arch Enemy have begun writing material for the follow-up to 2005′s Doomsday Machine. At this stage, the band has written about eight tracks, and guitarist Michael Amott claims the songs are “life-changing and ridiculously huge metal hymns. This is all my own not-so-humble opinion, of course. You’ll see.” The group will start tracking the LP in March, and the album could be out this coming summer. …Animosity have entered writing mode and titled their forthcoming album Animal. The band will begin recording the effort in April; its last album, Empires, was released in 2005. …Next month, New York hardcore legends Madball will begin drafting material for their next full-length. “We’ve already got some basic ideas down, and this promises to be our hardest record to date,” claimed the band in a statement. The outing is expected to hit stores this spring through Ferret Music. …

The Acacia Strain are one member shy following the recent departure of guitarist Daniel Daponde. The split was described as amicable, and due to unspecified “health problems.” The band has yet to launch a search for Daponde’s replacement. According to a statement issued by frontman Vincent Bennett, “We miss [Daponde] a whole bunch, and we are sure you all do as well. Wish him luck in his future endeavors.” …Machine Head‘s forthcoming album, The Blackening, has been given a tentative release date of March 27. Look for the disc to feature the tracks “Halo,” “Aesthetics of Hate,” “The Beautiful Mourning” and “Now I Lay Thee Down.” …Sludge-metal specialists Neurosis began tracking their next album on Wednesday with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Zao). …

Post-hardcore outfit Silent Drive have been writing songs for what will be their next album, and plan to enter the studio this spring to put them down on tape. In the meantime, you can catch them next month with FC Five and Crime in Stereo from Tuesday in Albany, New York, through January 7 in Pittsburgh. …Threshold have wrapped the recording of Dead Reckoning, which is slated for a March 23 release. The album will boast nine tracks, including “This Is Your Life,” “Pilot in the Sky of Dreams” and “Fighting for Breath.” …Project 86 have recruited Ulrich Wild (Deftones, Taproot) to produce the band’s forthcoming LP, which it will begin tracking in Los Angeles next week. Expect the yet-untitled set to drop in late spring. Frontman Andrew Schwab said, “We want people to feel a little unsettled when they put on this record. This album will both fulfill and destroy previous expectations. We want to balance our staple sound, memorable songwriting and patented energy with a lot of experimentation. I think old fans will still have enough to grab a hold of, but those who think they know what a Project 86 record is supposed to sound like will be surprised.” …

The Red Chord plan to spend the next four months hammering away on the follow-up to 2005′s Clients, which will be produced by Zeuss (Shadows Fall, Hatebreed) and will be titled Birdbath.

Danish thrash titans Hatesphere will hit the studio next week to start recording the still-untitled follow-up to 2005′s The Sickness Within. An April 30 release has been set for the band’s forthcoming opus. …Caught in a Trap have settled on Rats Get Fat as the title of their forthcoming debut full-length, which is expected to surface in April. The disc was produced by Don Fury (Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits), and features 14 cuts, including “Nothing’s Free,” “Summer’s Eve” and “All Out of Tomorrows.” The band plans to launch a full U.S. trek within the next few months. …Floridian death-metal masterminds Monstrosity have set Spiritual Apocalypse as the title of their next album, which should be out early next year and feature 10 to 11 tracks.