Chemical Burn finds that medicinal tonic poured of down n’ dirty, riff chugging, Groove Metal shaken with the machine gun pounding blasts of Death Metal and finished with a swig of Stoner Rock. There’s enough head banging, crushingly heavy substance in this Bay Area band’s brew to invigorate the truest metal head, with the tasty finish to attract a worldwide thirst.
Can you imagine that full-contact party with Pantera and Machine Head in 1994 where Gene Hoglan was the bartender and Corrosion Of Conformity was the referee? That’s the sound that Chemical Burn has captured in a bottle – intense and raw.
The chemists behind this agent – Mike Garnica and Kevin Jackson – are the duo at the nucleus of Chemical Burn. On their second full-length album for MegaSonic, Raining Anvils, they spent the past year meticulously focusing on the songs – writing lyrics that mean something and arranging music that you can feel. Keeping their standards set to stun, they recruited help from friend and Bay Area shredder, Marc Pattison (Cirlce II Circle) to balance each song with next level solos that are like icing on top of a volcanic cake.
To increase the potency of their formula, the band joined producer Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head, Exodus) at JingleTown studios in Oakland and created a beast of an album that is sure to make the folks from their legendary Bay Area scene proud. “We poured all we had into making these songs just right,” says Garnica with conviction, “Every part was written with the intent to set the world on fire. Then we took them to Juan and he dumped jet fuel on them.”
Setting it on fire had become the standard for whether or not an idea made the cut on the album. In doing so, Garnica and Jackson tapped into the metal energy that their native Bay Area is known for, while adding elements that make them every bit unique. The album opens with the brisk and raw, ass kicking of “I Rise I Fly.” Snapping from blasting beats into crushing grooves that support a delicate dance of riff heavy guitars and choice vocal arrangements, it’s an intoxicating anthem set ablaze and puffing a fierce pulse of smoke.
“The album presents some pretty ugly real life situations that people can relate to – domestic violence, police brutality, losing a loved one,” the front man proclaims. “I Rise I Fly is about not just enduring those situations, but coming out on top. And sonically, it just sounds like you’re kicking the shit out of anything that dares to fuck with you.”
Then there’s the breakout title track, “Raining Anvils.” The guys release a downpour of devastating hooks, fortified by blues riffing and a pounding triplet groove. “It’s like when you’re in one of those moods where nothing can faze you,” he continues. “Shit is dumping on you left and right, but you know you got this.”
After being friends for years and honing their craft in other projects, the Garnica/Jackson duo would come together in Chemical Burn to produce astonishing results. They became so focused on their game plan that, like surgeons, they found themselves cutting out the fat and attending to the meaty guts of it all, ultimately writing and recording the entirety of Raining Anvils themselves and restructuring Chemical Burn into the powerhouse that it is now.
“Kev and I were instantly on the same page when it came to the writing process,” Garnica explains. “We’re just…bros. We both have great ideas to bring to the table but we check our egos at the door and just hash everything out. If a song doesn’t light us both up, we go back to the drawing board with it. Eventually a light bulb goes off and it all comes together in a way that stokes the hell out of us. And then we’re bouncing off the walls.”
Chemical Burn are young at heart, but their experience shows that they’re capable of stomping a boot print in the world of Metal. Jackson toured as the drummer for Island DefJam recording artists, Primer 55 on OzzFest in 2000 and has been a session drummer for various label artists, while Garnica is a well-known musician in the Bay Area scene and gained industry insights as a guitar tech for Bay Area legends Testament, Dragon Lord and Laaz Rocket. Forming the band in San Jose, CA then moving to Los Angeles, they rose through the local ranks in both markets with an explosive live presence that made them a fan favorite, approaching every show with the same attitude – bring the intensity, play your ass off and win the crowd over. But wait until folks get a load of what they’re doing on, Raining Anvils.
Along with the heaviness, the band’s very name resembles 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.”