Down Again: Chimaira expand and evolve on 2003’s “The Impossibility Of Reason”

It’s awfully telling that the Ozzfest 2003 lineup was filled with both nu-metal and metalcore bands. In actuality, the lineup signaled a major sea change in metal and hard rock. Most of the former bands splintered apart due to low album sales despite being signed to major labels, and if anything, the rush was on to sign bands like Shadows Fall and Chimaira that played that summer.

For Chimaira in particular, their sophomore album The Impossibility Of Reason was released at a near-perfect time in their career. Containing traces of the nu-metal influences that spurred their uneven (but still solid) debut album in 2001, The Impossibility Of Reason was a sophomore record that certainly didn’t slump. In fact, these riffs still have the ability to bludgeon you – and get stuck in your head with the occasional melody as well.

The Impossibility Of Reason is, at its core, a pummeling groove metal album with lots of metalcore, extreme metal, and even some nu-metal influences. Case in point: the sub-3 minute riff-fest “Power Trip”. A compact song that bears many of the traits of their debut record, tracks like this are really easy to get into as well, not overstaying their welcome. The title track, in particular, is a notable one as well – with an obvious Pantera influence that’s very apparent in the solo that ends the song. There’s also the over the top heaviness of “Pure Hatred”, a nihilistic track that also manages to be rhythmic enough for metalheads to bang their head to (and isn’t that the whole point?).

The core guitar duo of Rob Arnold and Matt DeVries are completely on point with incisive, cutting riffs that still lean melodic at times. Tracks like “Eyes Of A Criminal” and album opener “Cleansation” hit with a viciouness that stands with the best that the New American Wave Of Heavy Metal had to offer, and it’s really not a surprise that the band were courted by Roadrunner Records early on.

Of course, Chimaira did wax a little more accessible here. While this certainly isn’t a pop album or anything, mid-album track “Down Again” will likely shock you if you listen to The Impossibility Of Reason front to back. With a chorus that Mark Hunter belts out effectively, you could be forgiven if you heard traces of Layne Staley, as well. It’s arguably the most effective Chimaira track here, too, as it’s a great lead-in to the band’s much heavier material. Of course, it’s still heavy – it just happens to have enough melodies and other intrinsic qualities that make it a bit more palatable for those who may not have acclimated to blast beats just yet.

At its core, however, The Impossibility Of Reason is arguably the best Chimaira album. While any number of their records might qualify (their subsequent self-titled record and 2007’s phenomenal Resurrection are also up there), The Impossibility Of Reason stands out as one of the more interesting metal albums of the 2000’s. With pummeling groove and the occasional hint of melody, it’s not surprising the band had such longevity. Of course, musical talent helps as well.