The Infection by Chimaira
Release date : April 2009
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
In mid August 2008, it was revealed that Cleveland, Ohio's Chimaira were scheduled to enter Sanford, Florida's Audiohammer Studio with producer Jason Suecof (who's worked with such acts as Trivium, DevilDriver, God Forbid, and All That Remains) in October to begin recording a fifth studio full length album. At that time, four compositions had been completed.
During early September, the group launched a studio blog to document writing and recording sessions for the album. Days later, Chimaira uploaded the first in a series of webisodes charting the album's creation. Midway into the month, a second webisode was uploaded. Also, it was revealed that Andols Herrick would enter Cleveland's Ante Up Audio on October 21st to begin laying down drum parts. Later that September, it was revealed that Ben Schigel would actually produce, and not Jason Suecof as had been previously slated. Previously, Schigel had produced and engineered This Present Darkness (2000), The Impossibility of Reason (2003) and Chimaira (2005), as well as helping Andy Sneap to track drums for Resurrection (2007). Additionally, a third webisode materialized. To mix, Chris “Zeuss” Harris (who's worked with such acts as Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, Agnostic Front, Terror, and The Acacia Strain) was recruited. Before the month drew to a close, Chimaira's fifth studio record was pencilled in for an April 2009 issue.
Following four months of writing sessions, thirteen tracks had been penned by early October. Days later, the fourth and fifth webisodes surfaced. On the 17th, the album's pre-production began. Under the name Pure Hatred, Chimaira performed a “secret” show at the Roc Bar in Cleveland on the 18th. To chronicle the group's recording sessions, a live video stream was organised through Yahoo! Live. Later in the month, Herrick had completed tracking drums. By early November, the sixth, seventh and eighth webisodes had been uploaded. In late December, the title of Chimaira's fifth studio album was revealed to be The Infection.
On December 30th, Chimaira performed its ninth annual Christmas show at Cleveland's House of Blues. The main stage featured Chimaira, Ringworm, Forged In Flame, and Caustic, whilst the side stage featured Malice 213, Ark Peninsula, Philo, Ohio Sky, and 2nd Half. At Sterling Sound in New York City, mastering sessions for The Infection were completed by Ted Jensen and “Zeuss” during early January 2009. Not much later, it was disclosed that Chimaira had signed a new worldwide record contract (not including North America) with Nuclear Blast Records (who had issued Resurrection outside of North America).
From late January to mid February, The Infection's track listing and artwork was gradually unveiled. With director Todd Bell, a music video for the track “Destroy and Dominate” was filmed during late February in Cleveland. In early March, the track “Secrets of the Dead” was made available for streaming via Chimaira's official MySpace page. From April 16th to the 17th, The Infection was available for streaming in its entirety. To promote The Infection, Spread-The-Infection.com was launched.
Within the Metal scene, Chimaira has long distinguished itself as a brutal entity. The group's fifth full length, 2009's The Infection, is as strong, or stronger even, than past Chimaira albums. Upon initial listening, The Infection is seemingly Chimaira's rebirth, the group musically reinventing themselves, possibly. Through his throaty shouts and Death growls, frontman Mark Hunter still takes command, though musically speaking, a movement ventures towards a Doom Metal sound.
As each track progesses, the greater The Infection becomes. A slow guitar part inaugurates “The Venom Inside”, and that part erupts into a whole group instrumental, Hunter's crushing vocals subsequently introducing devastating Metal. Upon “Coming Alive”, Doom Metal makes a strong appearances, its music possessing a blatantly driven, gradual approach, as well as a hefty supply of Death vocals to strengthen its cause. By the time that “Secrets of the Dead” arrives, Chimaira's members exhibits almost all they can musically achieve, and each respective track maintains the listener's interest. Up until this point, however, none of The Infection's tracks immediately leap at the listener. Having said that, the same cannot be said for The Infection's second section.
Ultimately, “Impending Doom” is the point where The Infection adopts a fresh guise. A very dark and crushing piece, “Impending Doom” is one of the album's best written and thought provoking numbers. Where the chorus mouths “We're rotting inside this cell / Our bodies are like a prison / Only death will save us from this hell”, fans will sing along. From thereon in until its conclusion, The Infection never loses momentum due to the album's newfound brutal dynamism. Haunting background keyboards inaugurate “Try to Survive”, the track almost serving as Chimaira's battle cry since the lyrics touch upon the group returning, and having more to achieve. A whole, sombre instrumental, “The Heart of it All” concludes The Infection, and just isn't the same without Hunter's growls.
The Infection possesses all the correct ingredients to be a great Metal album, and in fusing a multitude of Metal elements into each respective track, Chimaira has performed well. Although The Infection's genuine meat doesn't materialize until roughly halfway through its duration, the album's initial section will encounter no obstacles in leaving its mark, and serves as a great building block. Perfectly timed breakdowns, doom laden lyrics and overall crushing Metal await those who are drawn towards The Infection.