Sound — 7
One of the few bands I listen to that never seems to make the same album twice, Chimaira's latest release takes things in a new direction for the band. One thing you will quickly realize is the tempo of the songs--slow, atmospheric and heavy. For those who liked their self-titled and Resurrection this may be a turn off, as a few of the songs such as Secrets of the Dead and Destroy and Dominate trade speed for the 'heavy' factor, resulting in songs that are for a large point groove oriented (it will be interesting to see the moshing that will come at concerts to these songs). Another factor that seems to stand out is the verse-chorus transition. In The Venom Inside the transition from the verse to chorus seems forced, as if it is missing something to tie it altogether. While not a standout issue, again it might leave a bad taste in some fan's mouths who prefer well structured songs. Like in most of Chimaira's releases, the bass is largely ignored in favour of the guitar onslaught, and while both guitarists do a good job (The Heart of it All being a example), some of the riffs feel overused or boring, unable to hold your attention to the song and otherwise diminishing it's replay factor. There is no question to the druming being superb, and many of the tempo changes and drumming techniques present could be described as reminiscent of the death metal genre.
Lyrics — 7
Probably the second largest change in The Infection has come in Mark Hunter's singing... Err screaming. His vocals are more guttural in this record, trading screaming for growling, giving the record a death metal feel in areas (Coming Alive is a good example of this). This change from simple screaming will probably turn some more fans off, but there is no question it fit's with the tempo of the songs and does not hinder the music much in any way. Mark's clean singing is also not that bad, and fit's well in Impending Doom during the 'lull' sections of the song. Lyrics are like most of Chimaira's: cheesy to some and acceptable to others, depending on your taste and views. Overall they are the usual metal fare (just look at the song title names if you have any doubts), and do not affect the record much in general.
Overall Impression — 7
While a big change for Chimaira in terms of music, the Infection is a reasonable record that has some minor hiccups that will probably be seen as bad for some fans. While not superb, The Infection is still alright, and some songs (minus their defects) are good listens. To get a taste of this record listen to The Venom Inside, Frozen in Time, The Disappearing Sun and The Heart of It All. Having gone from Nu-Metal to some twisted version of thrash-metalcore (for lack of a better term) and finally death metal-esq groove, it will be interesting to see what the boys from Chimaira will come up with after this for their next record. On a final note, listen to this album several times before making a decision on it, as many of these songs do have a habit of growing on you, as they certainly have for me.