Though some 6,000 miles separate the hometowns of Cleveland metal stalwarts Chimaira and Swedish thrashers Soilwork, there's much less distance between the two bands' record collections. Both groups excel at making savage underground metal that's palatable to a broader audience while still maintaining the ferocity that appeals to diehards. For Soilwork, this means wedding the soot-black grind of technical death metal with New Wave of British Heavy Metal guitar and soaring vocals. The band's latest, Figure Number Five
is its finest yet, a hybrid of At the Gates and Iron Maiden that makes eye-gouging speed metal sound meant for radio.
Chimaira accomplishes a similar feat by embedding bone-crunching metalcore with vocals that are by turns melodic and malevolent. With an undercurrent of electronics, loads of Kerry King-worthy solos, and one of metal's most underrated drummers in Andols Herrick, the band has become a distinctive presence in the American metal underground, having sold close to 60,000 copies of The Impossibility of Reason, its second album for Roadrunner Records. The band is celebrating a banner year by throwing a holiday show at the Odeon. This year, give the gift of metal.