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Chimaira’s Mark Hunter Addresses State of the Band, Upcoming Album in Open Letter

Mark Hudson of Chimaira
Jo Hale, Getty Images

“The Age of Hell is over,” according to Mark Hunter of the Ohio-based metal band Chimaira. The frontman just released a fascinating and in-depth open letter about the current state of the band.

Chimaira have gone through a frustrating few years. Within the past year, the group lost all of their long-term members, leaving only vocalist Mark Hunter to continue on with the band. Longtime keyboardist and programmer announced his departure from Chimaria in April 2011, citing a “negative environment” and a declining state of the music industry. Drummer Andols Herrick and guitarists Rob Arnold and Matt DeVries quickly followed suit, with many fans believing the end of Chimaira was imminent.

According to Hunter, however, Chimaira is still very much alive:

The last few years have been bizarre, to say the least.

Chimaira went through an insane amount of changes that would have killed 99% of the bands out there, and all things considered, probably should have killed us, too.

Since 2009, we’ve switched labels, management companies, booking agents, merchandisers, and unfortunately, band members.

Like many bands, we were tested in order to survive an ever-changing industry. There were various suggestions implemented to try and improve our situation; some methods worked, some not so much. Regardless, we all had different ideas and life goals that ultimately led to where we are today.

For over a year, we’ve been working incessantly to assemble a solid team that would represent Chimaira moving forward, all the while rebuilding the entire infrastructure. With the music industry being in a transitional period, it was imperative to align ourselves with the right people.

Thankfully, a new balance has been found and goals have been met. Though the past few years have been difficult (with actual blood, sweat, and tears), today I’m excited to announce that the machine is running stronger than ever.

I want to thank all of our dedicated fans for understanding that every change made was to keep Chimaira alive. A harrowing journey, the humility that accompanied each step of the path is a blessing, and your loyalty speaks volumes that will not go unrecognized.

I fully understand the vastness that is the flip side of the coin and empathize with the fact there are a few upset fans disappointed in the changes that happened.

The question (or scoff) I encounter regarding the lineup change is why I decided to keep the name Chimaira despite losing key members. It’s quite understandable as I’m the first person this riotous situation perplexed.

It’s unchallenging to say that after the guys split that my commitment to move forward with the name was for ego, or I’m holding on too long, call me Axl Rose, etc… while all of that is somewhat accurate (and innocuous), I hope you get the logical explanation as well, and discern the passion behind the motivation.

First, it’s not as straightforward as changing a band name. When I learned of Matt and Rob’s decision to leave the group, there were five months of announced tours on the agenda, there were contracts with my name on it – and there are still contracts with my name on it.

Record labels had invested over six figures into The Age Of Hell, which at the time had not been released. Closing out in the middle of a cycle is a complex scenario. Family members, crew, and beyond needed the wheels to spin in order to pay bills. Like many decisions, this was an intricate conundrum and needed to be respected with careful thought. I couldn’t walk away from that type of responsibility, nor was I about to disappoint our fans any further.

After securing the new lineup, I had no idea how the tours or the future would work out. There was no crystal ball to establish a fan reaction toward the new look and feel. What would the chemistry be like on the bus? There was a healthy amount of pressure on all of us and it was imperative to stay focused.

After spending a few months with Emil, Austin, Jeremy, Matt, and recent winner of the best beard in metal, Sean Z., our mission became clear, and everyone involved realized Chimaira was more relevant than previously imagined. Numbers went up across the board and are continuing to do so.

The audience seemed genuinely stoked and accepting, and we felt tight as a unit. One awesome aspect of the tour was meeting skeptical fans that walked in thinking the night would suck; then watching those same fans leave with a feeling that it might have been the best show they’d seen. The most fulfilling feeling was the sound of the name Chimaira chanted.

The band was named, and is still named “Chimaira” to represent a hybrid style of heavy metal. The Chimera is a mythological creature comprised of several different animals forming into one unique monster. In modern terms, it can be defined as follows: “ Biology: an organism containing a mixture of genetically different tissues, formed by processes such as fusion of early embryos, grafting, or mutation: the sleeplike goat chimera.

A DNA molecule with sequences derived from two or more different organisms, formed by laboratory manipulation. “

That sounds like us. I hope that puts an end to some of the confusion.

Will the new music sound like the old albums? None of our albums sound the same, but there are always familiarities. The five new Chimaira songs I’m listening to sound like the band you love without question.

Old school fans can be excited about the fact that we brought back the seven strings on a couple jams, and the thrash era can be excited for some of the most technical riffing yet. Like the ethereal, electronic, heavy as fuck, stoner sludge of the last two? It’s there. We have every intention of preserving the quality you expect from this band, while at the same time raising the bar to unreachable heights. It’s a powerful time.

Thanks again to everyone that continues to stick by our side through thick and thin. Now that everything is worked out behind the scenes and the business fun again, it’s time to go back and concentrate on what’s integral. The music. We plan to make an incredible album.

The Age Of Hell is over.

- Mark

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