Chimaira is an interesting band. My first exposure came back in 2001, just before Pass Out of Existence landed on store shelves. It was a live show, and they were part of a package that included Ill Nino, Machine Head, and Fear Factory. Their performance was intense and it was a memorable night.
I then picked up the album and cannot say I was likewise impressed. I put them aside for some years, completely missing their next two albums, which I still have not heard. I then got my hands on Resurrection; that was a revelation. The band had come a long from my first recorded experience. Now, here I am, once again a little late to the party, but I have The Infection, and again I am impressed. This is easily the best songwriting of their career. If you don't have this, what are you waiting for?
Of the three albums I have of Chimaira's, no two sound that much alike. Despite that, they are all distinctly Chimaira. To me, that is a sign of a band heading in the right direction. They have a career that is lasting, and seemingly in a state of growth, and they are continuing to find themselves and refine their sound. Never content to rest on their laurels and feed off of past success, Chimaira keeps looking for new ways to develop their sound, new directions to go in, and it is fitting them very well.
Resurrection was a brutal album that was heavy and in your face with its deft blend of metalcore, industrial, and death. The Infection is what comes after the rise. Like a zombie, the violence and darkness that came with their prior rise from the dead has turned them into an angry, vicious monstrosity that is ready to infect anyone in the vicinity with its mix of metalcore, hardcore, death, industrial, groove, and sludge metal. Wow, that is a lot of different sub-genres, but they all come together and play nice as Chimaira blast their way through 11-songs and 57-minutes of music.
The biggest thing that will stand out on this album is the fact that it is considerably slower than Resurrection. Not anything like Crowbar or Type O Negative, but it definitely has a more deliberate pace. It is something that works in the band's favor. There is still a healthy brutality, a pleasant in your face quality, and an overriding desire to deliver evident throughout. This is decidedly not a case of a band going soft or losing their edge, it is more like an expansion of their ability to keep their edge, reinventing themselves while retaining their identity.
The Infection opens with a mellow guitar line that lulls the listener into submission, slowly building into a more robust version of the line until passing the minute mark where the broken glass vocals and full heaviness of the band kick in, making for a nice kick in the teeth opening. The song is called "The Venom Inside," and I daresay it is an apt title for the strong opening cut.
The slow-burning power continues to burn through such strong entries as "Frozen in Time" and "Secrets of the Dead," all building up to the excellent "Impending Doom." I am really digging this album. It is a great companion piece to Resurrection, two sides of a band that seems to really know where they are going and want to try different things along the way.
As good as these songs are and as good as the entirety is as a complete work, everything seems to be working up to the epic in length instrumental called "The Heart of it All," which runs for nearly 10-minutes. The song has it all, except vocals that is. Leads, heavy stuff, mellow stuff, and a clear path through, taking the listener on a sonic excursion.
Mark Hunter's vocals are as strong as ever, even with the almost complete discard of clean singing. For 99% of the album, he sounds like he just spat out a mouthful of broken glass and is spraying blood all over the microphone. Certainly a gruesome image, but just listen to his voice and try to tell me that description does not fit. Behind him is the guitar duo of Rob Arnold on lead and Matt DeVries on rhythm, together they deliver some great chugging riffs as well as some strong solos, not quite to the level or amount as on Resurrection, but they are there. Keeping the pace surging ahead is Andols Herrick on drums and Jim LaMarca on bass. The line up is rounded out by Chris Spicuzza on keyboards and samples.
Bottomline. Do you like Chimaira? Make sure you have this. You can turn it up, rattle the doors, bang your head, and groove to it all at the same time. It is another step in the evolution of Chimaira from that not so hot band I listened to back in 2001 to this interesting, ever-changing band that steadfastly delivers heavy slabs of metal for my listening pleasure.