Chimaira are the quiet loners of metalcore, preferring the comfort of their own dark thoughts to those of their more popular peers. While just as intense as their death-metal cousins, the Cleveland sextet is not nearly as relentless — there's too much room for melody and prog experimentalism (such as the intermittently Crimson-like 9-minute epic "Six") for their feral tastes. Nor are they attractive, lovelorn would-be frat boys from Long Island or New Jersey. When singer Mark Hunter turns his vitriolic hate inward ("No Reason to Live," "Black Heart") it's like a malevolent black hole. "Will I ever give a fuck about anyone or anything," he screeches on the heroin track "Needle," whose bleakness certainly suggests such a solution.

Fortunately, the target of these whirling hardcore metal maelstroms is as often outward, such as the thundering, gothic churner "End It All," and operatic album-closer "Empire," which indicts geopolitical aggression with, well, aggression. The album's highlight is "Worthless," which thrashes harder than Pantera, with a savage rant directed at self-satisfied narcissists. Because of Chimaira's proficiency with textures and tone, their brutal guitar pyrotechnics showcase a chiaroscuro of violence instead of the implacable black of their more predictable peers.

Chris Parker writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to