Not many might be aware of the heavy groove metal band Chemical Burn out of San Jose, CA. They formed in the year 2000 right smack in the middle of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Most bands that formed that period would have found it hard to gain notoriety against other acts like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, and Machine Head. Nevertheless, these guys are heavy as fuck and deserve your attention. Chemical Burn finds that balance of down n’ dirty, riff chugging, groove metal mixed in with some machine gun pounding blasts of death Metal and with just a tinge of stoner rock. The sound that Chemical Burn has been able to capture is both intense and raw. Bassist/Vocalist Mike Garnica and Drummer Kevin Jackson are the duo at the nucleus of Chemical Burn. For their upcoming second full-length album for MegaSonic, “Raining Anvils”, they spent the past year focusing on how to make these songs great. To give this album the best kind of sound they were looking for, the band joined producer Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head, Exodus) at JingleTown studios in Oakland. They also enlisted the help from friend and Bay Area shredder, Marc Pattison (Circle II Circle) who is capable of adding some blistering lead guitar work, which balances the album, yet while maintaining heaviness. In doing all of this Chemical Burn have created a beast of an album that is sure to make the folks from their legendary Bay Area scene proud.
All in all, the album is an excellent effort that brings everything I love about straight up heavy metal. Nothing fancy or experimental, just some good old kicking ass and taking names. The album opens with “I Rise I Fly”, which is has that good ol warm, fast hardcore heavy sound . Switching between crushing grooves and blasting beats that support a delicate dance of riff heavy guitars and well placed vocal arrangements. It’s an unapologetic anthem that sets this entire album ablaze. The next track “My Weakness” keeps the fast pace going with some great double bass work from Jackson. The band also included songs like “Crush Your Ego” and the title track “Raining Anvils”, which are crunching groovy tunes that you could set on repeat and have sex to it all night. My favorite track “Like a God” starts out with a destructive drum solo from Jackson then goes into some thrashy chugging. What makes the song special to me is the epic build up that leads into a very Hatebreed-esque chorus. While I did enjoy the album for the most part I did find it to be a little repetitive at times. I would sometimes look to see where in the song I was only to find I was in a completely different song altogether. But all in all this album was a refreshing throwback for me to the glory days of the “NWOAHM” movement. Especially amongst a sea of bands that all just want to be the next Meshuggah and Of Mice and Men all at the same time.
Along with the heaviness, the band’s name represents the values presented in their messaging. “Chemical Burn is a metaphor for anything that you can be addicted to and burn out on, but finding the strength to not let it take you over,” Garnica reveals. “It’s not necessarily just drugs and alcohol, but our day to day obsessions, relationships, the food we eat, the drama we get involved in and the emotions we feel from it. A lot of the album is about an unhealthy relationship I was in. I felt high about it in the beginning, and it unfortunately reached a point that it was time to quit, but I kept coming back for more.” The band’s subject matter reveals an honest and relatable commentary containing journeys to dark places and coming out of them alive. “We hope this will be your life’s soundtrack for 2015,” the front man concludes. “It’s been ours for sure.”
Make sure you pick up a copy of “Raining Anvils” which drops August 7th. Chemical Burn will be touring extensively throughout the year, with more dates to be announced shortly.