Coal Chamber


Written by: MN on 11/08/2015 16:02:13

Any 90's kid who followed the emergence of the nu-metal scene remembers Coal Chamber. The video for "Loco" had an air of unadulterated craziness that characterized many of the attitudes of the early nu-metal bands. Crazy hairstyles, face paint, piercings and a big "FUCK YOU" attitude characterized the nu-metal scene that strived to simplify the message, intensifying the mainstream appeal by use of provocative imagery and lyrical content and producing ear-catching riffs. Just like metalcore today, nu-metal was acrimoniously loved and hated, the minor difference is that nu-metal is viciously outdated and metalcore is still thriving. So, what on earth did Dez Fafara think when he decided to revive a band that clearly belongs in another decade. Is Coal Chamber in fact in any way relevant in the musical soundscape of today? I decided to have a listen for the sake of nostalgia but admittedly, scepticism runs high.

"Rivals" opens with the lead single "I.O.U Nothing", a song that brings back the quasi-industrial sound of the "Fiend"-era of Coal Chamber. The song's main riff also reminds me of something the band Soil would have released. The chorus is simplistic and sing-a-long friendly, the drums are intense and full-bodied, so production-wise, this album is off to a good start. The second single of the album is "Suffer In Silence" that continues in a similar vein, the riff is heavy but very straightforward, yet the song does, however, contain some more appealing lyrics and guest vocals by Al Jourgensen of Ministry.

"Another Nail In The Coffin" is a stand-out song that harnesses all the strong aspects of Coal Chamber, especially Fafara vocal performance is impressive. "Wait" is one of the songs that is most old-school in sound, the reverb and wah's of the guitar bring back the times when they would feature heavily. "Dumpster Drive" is an awkward interlude that signals "Over My Head" which, regrettably breathes more life into the predictability of this album. "Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)" reminds me a bit of some earlier Soulfly work, it is one of the stronger tracks on the record. Yet halfway through the record I start realizing that things are getting super tedious with the repetitive sense of the riffs, all performed at midtempo and all in the same general mood.

Alas, Coal Chamber have disappointed in my opinion. It is understandable that reverting to Coal Chamber means to employ some "old methods" but the problem is that this album is nu-metal as it sounded back in the late 90's, there is virtually nothing new on the table. This surprises me considering Fafara has spent years in Devildriver, which provided ample opportunity for inspiration. "Rivals" is in my opinion nothing more than a nostalgic ride back to the nu-metal heydays, but unfortunately riddled with b-side quality tracks. Dez should return to Devildriver and let Coal Chamber go.

Download: I.O.U Nothing, Over My head, Another Nail In The Coffin
For The Fans Of: Static X, Chimaira, Fear Factory

Release date 22.05.2015
Napalm Records

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