Hailed by Kerrang! as “a baptism of fire, one that will thrill, bruise and possibly disgust,” the debut album from CHAMBER, Cost Of Sacrifice, was a lesson in blunt-force brutality. The Pure Noise Records LP elevated the Nashville-based metalcore quartet to new levels of the underground, earning them a stamp of approval from tastemakers like Revolver and BrooklynVegan as well as slots on tours with the likes of Wage War, Eighteen Visions, Counterparts and Kublai Khan.
But despite this widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike, the band themselves will be the first to tell you their trash-compactor cacophony didn’t go far enough for their liking.
“After putting out the last album, we realized no one needs us to be the pretty band,” guitarist Gabe Manuel says with a laugh. “We’d rather be the fucked up band.”
Thus, the blueprint for A Love to Kill For, the sophomore Pure Noise album from Manuel, vocalist Jacob Lilly, bassist Chris Smith and drummer Taylor Carpenter: faster, louder, more chaotic and unpredictable than ever before. All these elements have been fundamental parts of Chamber’s ear-rattling sound since the group formed in the tight-knit Nashville scene in 2017, but they’ve never been so confident and soul-shaking as they are now.
Produced by longtime collaborator Randy LeBoeuf (The Acacia Strain, Gideon) over the course of a month in New Jersey, A Love to Kill For follows 2022’s surprise Carved In Stone EP and is, unsurprisingly, reflective of the time period in which the band created it – a fraught, turbulent moment in the history of the modern world with unprecedented trickle-down and turmoil, prolonged periods of disconnection and isolation that allowed for existential reflection and detours into destructive behavior.
“It’s an album about people getting lost or mired in bullshit, whether that’s addiction or narcissism or selfishness,” Manuel says. “There are all sorts of ways the people you love can fail you in search of themselves, and ways people don’t come back from that.”
These are heavy topics begetting heavier songs, swerving in techy, math-rock brilliance, rabid tempos and unrelenting antipathy that swirl into a genre-fluid rage. First single “Tremble” sets the musical mission statement for the record – blistering riffs that give way to tremorous breakdowns and grooves alike – while “Devoured” and “To Die In The Grip Of Poison” feature ear-shattering cameos from Kublai Khan’s Matt Honeycutt and Boundaries’ Matt McDougal, respectively, that could soundtrack the most devastating Mortal Kombat fatalities.
“When we were writing, we wanted the songs to both fit together as a cohesive work but also be completely unpredictable,” says Lilly, who joined the band on vocals in 2018 and made his recorded debut on a reissue of Chamber’s debut EP, Ripping/Pulling/Tearing. “Whenever we’d hit writer’s block, we pushed through it with that in mind: just do something fast and wild.”
By the time things let up for a brief breath during the cinematic title track, it’s clear the band have hit another gear, raising the bar on what’s possible for dextrous metal and hardcore while leaving the future open wide for future evolutions of their musical brutality. That’s bad news for others looking to plant their flag in the heavy music landscape, but a win for those lucky enough to experience Chamber’s harrowing live show. (“We’re all about setlists that don’t have any snoozers,” Lilly says proudly.)
As for the band members’ accusations that their past work was too, in their own words, pretty? Beauty is, of course, squarely in the eyes of the beholder, but it’s safe to say the debate’s been put to rest – dead and buried with the dawning of a new era.
“This is what Chamber’s always wanted to be,” Manuel says emphatically. “We love music that’s fucked up and crazy – in the end, I think we’re all pretty crazy anyway.”