The once-mighty Chimaira heads up Vinyl Wednesday this week and wouldn’t ya know it, it’s another picture disc. I think I own three total picture discs and I’ve now covered two of them. Never been a huge fan of picture discs but I couldn’t pass this up as it was $3 on some metal merch website. I wish it was one of the regular versions of the album but for a cheap chance at some Cleveland metal, I’ll deal.
Since this is a picture disc I really don’t have a lot to say about the design. There’s a really killer evolution of the “chaos” symbol on the front, some nice photography and a pretty neat treatment for the typography on the back. I actually really dig the look of this picture disc, which is one of the reasons I bought it. Hit the jump to see some pictures and to find out what I think of the music on this album.
The front image is actually pretty cool in my book. I dig the “spray painted” graphic on a crusty wall. It totally seems like something you’d see around the seedier areas of Cleveland on a shitty Winter day. It also has a definite zombie feeling in the styling of the logo which plays into the “infection” album title/theme. Very 28 Days Later kind of imagery here. Viewing the graphic up close really shows how well this picture disc works for this release. Lots of good texture in the source material and it comes across very well here.
The back has a big band photo (surprise, right?) along with the tracklisting. The green hue applied to the image also goes along with that zombie vibe. Sickly, kind of gross and certainly menacing.
The type treatment for the liner notes is kind of jumbled around but it’s done well. The text is still readable and then they evolved the concept a little further with the tracklisting. I really like the red text behind the bolded white text. It’s an extra layer that might not be a first-thought kind of design decision and it adds some much-needed variety and flare to the small bit of real estate that is provided.
The tracklisting gets the scratched-out treatment. Nothing really new or ground-breaking but I just happen to like how it looks. Take something that was working, evolve it and have it still work well. I can appreciate that. The red text also appears behind the white text here and to push that further than before it’s handled differently and it becomes a bit easier to read this time.
This album came out in 2009 and I never really felt that it was indicative of Chimaira’s best qualities. Do I dig it? Sure. There’s nothing overly offensive about it to my ears. The problem is just that it’s not what I was hoping for. I wanted the super pissed off and fast-paced Chimaira I had come to know and love. What I got was a slowed down, plodding, abusive relationship where I was on the bruised end of the fist. This album really signifies a shift in their sound and I don’t think they ever really recovered from this path. After a slew of member changes and lots of instability, Chimaira finally gave up the ghost in 2014. Two more albums were released after The Infection but they were never able to really find their footing again.
One positive note about this album is that it did give me one of my favorite Chimaira songs in “Impending Doom”. Slow, haunting and super heavy. This song is, in my opinion, the best on the album by far. Every listen transports me away to a cold, crisp, Fall day just on the cusp of Winter. Breath bellows from your mouth and nose, leaves are scattered across the ground amongst gravestones and day is quickly turning to night. The song takes a slight turn around the 3:15 mark that always gives me goosebumps before finally kicking in with the classic Chimaira murderous rage. The vocals become less aggressive at that musical turn and it works so well at adding to the very depressing nature of this song. The guitars then take over for a little bit and then it’s back into the song as we know it to close it out. I always loved Rob Arnold’s guitar playing and thought this song seems simple, it really displays some quality playing between him and Matt DeVries. Nothing as technical or fun like other songs in their catalog but it’s a good interplay between two good guitar players.