Subsequent releases, like 2003's "The Impossibility of Reason" and 2005's self-titled release, still roared with savage riffage, but neither were as resonant. The group was slowed by a creative valley, internal tensions and the diminishing attention of its record label.
After a move to growing metal-core label Ferret Music (Poison the Well, The Devil Wears Prada, Misery Signals), Cleveland's Chimaira righted the ship both creatively and personally with its fourth release, 2007's "Resurrection." The return of drummer Andols Herrick " who left after the first album, replaced by Ricky Evansand (Therion, Soilwork) and Kevin Talley (Misery Index, Dying Fetus) on respective albums " helped key a new mood reflected in the disc's title and renewed focus.
"Resurrection" debuted at No. 42 on the Billboard charts, bettered by the release of April's "The Infection," which opened at No. 30. Sailing is smooth these days, which guitarist Matt DeVries described as "a lot of fun" when compared to the group's prior experiences.
"With every record, we grow and become closer, but just like in any family, there will always be some tiffs and arguments," he said. "Getting Andols back, there was a lot less tension. I think now, being older, we're more mature, where we actually talk about things instead of letting little things build into bigger things, and having an explosion, which is what used to happen."
While the atmosphere within the band may be more comfortable, the sound is just as harrowing, if not even darker, as newer tracks like "The Venom Inside," "Impending Doom" and "Destroy and Dominate" indicate. Singer Mark Hunter growls with a guttural, but not indecipherable rampage, and guitarists DeVries and Rob Arnold brandish riffs like characters from "Highlander," parrying chugging amperage and racing arpeggios over keyboardist Chris Spicuzza's moody washes and sputtering background electronics.
Chimaira joins Hatebreed and a few other hardcore acts for a 6 p.m. Friday show at the Diamond Ballroom.
"The Infection" was written largely during the last tour in support of "Resurrection," and was composed by Arnold and Hunter in a studio rig they set up in the tour bus' back lounge. By the time the band returned home, it had assembled more than half of the 13 tracks eventually recorded for the new album. Ten songs made the cut for "Infection," while the rest were released as part of several limited-edition releases, box sets and other promotions. Producer Ben Schigel, who recorded Chimaira's second and third albums, returned to help maintain "Resurrection"'s spirit and energy.
"He pushes us in ways because he knows us inside and out, and can say, 'Why don't you try this?' It's easier for him to communicate with us where someone that we don't know, we might think it's a little harsher him saying certain things to us," DeVries said. "We have a lot of trust in him. It's almost like he's part of the band since he's been working with us for so long."
A standout theme on "The Infection" is the group's exploration of mid-tempo material and wider dynamics.
"Basically, all of it was subconscious. We didn't really go into this record thinking we needed to top anything, or make it sound a certain way," DeVries said. "We're fortunately at that comfortable point in our career where we can do whatever we want. We had a couple of up-tempo things, but felt with the mid-tempo vibe, it was more of an open feel that created more room for riffs to breathe. It turned out pretty cool."
Chimaira with Hatebreed, Winds of Plague and more perform at 6 p.m. Friday at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern. Chris Parker