Chimaira
The Infection

Give Chimaira some credit, will ya? They fought through criticism from purist metal fans for what some described as riding the nu metal edge on Pass Out of Existence – though Slayer had no problem taking them on tour – and still took flak for the blockbuster that followed, an aggressive and hooky album called The Impossibility of Reason. Rather than resting on well-established laurels, the band went even more metallic with the self-titled follow-up, one that was far more about riff firepower and fire breathing solos than mainstream accessibility, a formula that left Roadrunner none too pleased. Jumping ship to Ferret had folks wondering whether the act could reclaim past glories. Resurrection turned out to be the defining album of the band’s career, one that was full of rage, metal to the bone, and pretty damn catchy. At this point, folks should have realized that Cleveland’s own were an accomplished modern America metal band that did things on their terms, the only concern the creation of a quality product.

At the very least, you could never accuse Chimaira of ever making the same album twice, a trend that continues with new release The Infection. It is an about-face of sorts, at least compared to Resurrection, in that the tempos have been slowed and the arrangements are more stripped down and groove-oriented. It is also darker than hell (not that vocalist Mark Hunter has ever sung happy songs anyway).

The short of it is that The Infection does not grab one by the throat and squeeze until veins burst, as was the case with Resurrection. It’s just not that kind of album. Killing is still involved, but the death is a slower, arguably more painful one. It is above average from a songwriting standpoint and generally robust from start to finish. It is just not a great Chimaira album and definitely doesn’t reach the heights attained on Resurrection. Then again, the band surely had no interest in making Resurrection: Part II.

On the upside, the album contains a handful of catchy and murderous tunes, namely the opening two tracks: “The Venom Inside” and “Frozen in Time.” Both are mid-tempo Chimaira classic bruisers with catchy choruses. The former is one of several to effectively use death vocals as well. Quite honestly, the album is devoid of truly sub-par material, even if some degree of drag occurs at the midway point. Many of the tunes incorporate a suffocating, morose feel due to the slow grinding riffs coupled with Chris Spicuzza’s creepy keyboards and electronic effects. In many cases Spicuzza’s work is significantly more pronounced than previous efforts (e.g. “Secrets of the Dead”). In fact, the album’s darker shades take a variety of forms, such as the chilling use of compositional space and whispered vocals on “Impending Doom.” A lengthy instrumental, “The Heart of it All,” closes the album in majestic fashion, featuring both ethereality and superb guitar work from Rob Arnold and Matt Devries.

In the end, if you’re a Chimaira fan already, you’ll enjoy The Infection. Folks that discovered the band off the strength of Resurrection might be split on the new long player, as it is no carbon copy. Just realize that it requires a different headspace than Resurrection. Hair splitting aside, Chimaira has recorded another good album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
May 19th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    Good review. Its not as good as Resurrection, but its still catchy and well written.


  2. Commented by: Staylow

    Good review, but I don’t entirely agree. I’ve never been the biggest Chimaira fan, but I’ve enjoyed their past three albums to varying degrees. This one though, I just couldn’t get into at all. There were a couple OK moments, but after 4 or 5 spins, this one just didn’t grab me at all. It seems just a little too stripped back, slow and plodding.


  3. Commented by: vugelnox

    This band’s appeal blows right by me everytime I hear them. Their albums get positive reviews fairly steadily but to my ears it all adds up to nothing. Group them in with the likes of Trivium and Machine Head perhaps, lots of good press all around but I’d rather listen a dentist’s drill then this.


  4. Commented by: Desperado

    I always saw them as scene hoping according to what their labels wanted,as their releases were always perfectly timed to what was hip at the time like Machine Head.Granted it all depends on which side of the coin we look at.Either way though I like their past stuff and this one is good too.Decent enough release.


  5. Commented by: jk666

    I loved Resurrection, but this one isn’t doing it for me…yet.


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