By early 1997, the world had long gotten used to the nu metal scene with the likes of Korn and Deftones. Diehard fans of true metal, heavy metal, thrash, death metal, black and grind weren't easily convinced of the qualities of this new style of metal, and I wasn't there either. Not until the debut album by LA band Coal Chamber hit the stores.
The four-piece had an insane looking frontman and a girl bassist (certainly not a common sight at the time), and although there were similarities, they were both darker and heavier than Korn, taking on a goth angle rather than a hip hop pose, and their approach to riffing kind of combined Korn with Deftones. Songs like Loco and Big Truck hammered right through and earned my respect, even if my music world consisted mostly of Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Iron Maiden, Carcass, Type O Negative, Entombed and Slayer at the time.
I was an exchange student in Scotland from 1996 to 1998, and I spent many an evening in Glasgow where all the cool gigs were. One of these evenings I spent in company with Machine Head, Napalm Death, Skinlab and, yes, you guessed it, Coal Chamber. With their dark looks and mechanical movements on stage, paired with the down-tuned heaviness, Dez and the rest of the nu metal crew actually impressed me more than the rest of the billing - although these other bands were more seasoned and had great music under their belts. The new kids on the block had certainly arrived, and, understandably, they received a lot of air time in magazines like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer in the UK.
After two more albums, the energy ran out of Coal Chamber and the band died in a rain of arguments and internal turmoil. A shame, because 'Chamber Music' (1999) and 'Dark Days' (2002) were both excellent albums and there seemed to be no stopping Coal Chamber. The mending process began, and Coal Chamber eventually came together for some festival gigs in 2011, and in a couple of days, there's finally a studio recording ready. This is easily one of big comeback albums of the year.
With both feet firmly planted in their past endeavours, Coal Chamber continue where they let go thirteen years ago. Expect a down-tuned, frantic style of aggression, Dez spitting his spite and anger in your face. Expect Meegs creating that characteristic quirky, yet super heavy flow on the guitar along with Nadja's thunderous bass lines. Expect an organic clock work behind it all in the shape of drummer Mike Cox, who punctuates everything effectively.
If you're a big fan of Dez Fafara and if you're looking forward to something that sounds a lot like DevilDriver, you're set to be disappointed. 'Rivals' has nothing to do with DevilDriver. There is one riff in the song Another Nail in the Coffin that could perhaps be found on a DevilDriver album, but that's it. Yes, Dez is Dez and it's his voice in both bands,, nothing can be changed about that, but this is Coal Chamber, and nothing else.
If you're wondering if any other nu metal bands than Slipknot have anything to offer the metal scene in 2015, my clear response is YES. Coal Chamber sound as hungry as they did in 1997, and they have the crazy ideas, odd angles and energy it takes to make their music interesting and exciting in today's metal.
Here's the first single output from the album. Enjoy!
1. I.O.U. Nothing
2. Bad Blood Between Us
3. Light in the Shadows
4. Suffer in Silence (ft. Al Jourgensen)
5. The Bridges You Burn
7. Another Nail in the Coffin
10. Dumpster Dive
11. Over My Head
12. Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)
13. Empty Handed