Chinchilla - The Last Millenium

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984 14396
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:57:00

If you were to hear the name Chinchilla you'd either think of a cute, fuzzy, squirrel like creature or perhaps a cute, fluffy, hair-metal band, right? A double-bill with Warrant, Winger or Poison perhaps? I don't know if Chinchilla started out that way (it doesn't seem so), but they are certainly a far cry from a hair-metal band. In fact, they are closer to Blind Guardian, if the truth be known. Blind Guardian with a dash of Iron Maiden.

Vocalist Thomas Laasch has a harsh, raspy way of singing (a la Hansi Kursch) and the music has a heavy darkness to it ? all tying in with the theme of their 2002 release The Last Millenium. Chinchilla are a bit more on the melodic side, but have that same warrior-heroic-epic style to their music. Most pieces can be described this way. Just cast your mind back to a darker age, a Lord Of The Rings kind of atmosphere. The illustrations in the booklet suggest at once something more gothic and something out of antiquity. And lyrically, the setting is a world on the verge (and past) a nuclear war. That is, a view of war down through the ages, right to modern day. If you think nukes, you think mutually assured destruction ? the apocalypse. And yes, that is the spin that Chinchilla put on things. It a concept album, but there isn't a narrative thread exactly. Events in "Victims Of The Night" (the protagonist makes a deal with the devil) are referenced back to in "The Highest Price." Another common thread is that our leaders (presidents and otherwise) are corrupt liars ? most specifically in "They Are Liars." The lyrics themselves are sometimes awkwardly written, but Laasch's delivery glosses enough that everything works.

The core of the album is bookended by very dark, slowly grinding, churning keyboards, the intro over the subtle sounds of war, the outro eerie silence. But that intro doesn't last long, as thunderous guitars (Udo Gerstenmeyer), bass (Marc Peters) and drums (Steffen Theurer) kick in, shattering the darkness. Keyboards (duties shared by Gerstenmeyer and Marc Steck) are heard throughout, but are used very subtly ? drums are the most dominant instrument, aside from vocals. And once Chinchilla get going, they don't stop, each track being a powerhouse of energy with choruses that would arouse even the most curmudgeonly of warriors. Things do throttle back a bit for "After The War," something that is played at a little more than mid-tempo.

In the midst of all this, the band throws in a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Boys Are Back In Town." It's not a bad rendition (though I still prefer the original) but it would have made more sense, I suppose, at the very end of the album (it's track 8 of 10). Especially since there's just been this apocalyptic war wiping out most of humanity (as detailed in "After The War"), somehow I don't think the "boys" would be around to be "back in town." Though if the war hadn't been so apocalyptic? coming at the end would also make sense, the army, host, or legion returning?

I'm not bowled over by The Last Millenium, but I do like it. I think it's a little too "samey" in there isn't a whole lot that differentiates one track from another ? the differences are subtle -- but that's the nature of this style. It's done and played well, however.

The Last Millenium (1:48) / War Machine (4:54) / Demons We Call (6:03) / Nightrain Of Death (4:51) / Father Forgive Me (5:08) / After The War (5:20) / Victims Of The Night (5:40) / The Boys Are Back In Town (5:45) / They Are Liars (4:29) / The Highest Price (6:59)

Thomas Laasch - lead vocals
Udo Gerstenmeyer - guitars; keyboards (1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10)
Marc Peters - bass, backing vocals
Steffen Theurer - drums, backing vocals
Marc Steck - keyboards (2, 3, 7)
Andy B Franck - backing vocals
Artur Diessner - backing vocals

No Mercy (1990)
Who Is Who (ep) (1994)
Horrorscope (1998)
Madness (2000)
The Last Millenium (2002)
Madtropolis (2003)
Take No Prisoners (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: November 2nd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 650
Language: english


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