11 July 2015

Coal Chamber - Rivals

Well, well, well. Look whose made a comeback...

No, not me, but Coal Chamber! A band who - if we're honest - were NOT the worst band in the world but did get quite a bit of shit thrown at them. There have been worse bands than these guys, that is for sure. I think a lot of it was because of their image (all day-glo hair colourings and facial piercings) but to give them their due, it wasn't too bad in retrospect. Besides, I cannot say anything as back then, I looked like I'd wandered in off the set for the video to "Davidian" by Machine Head. Still do, in fact...

In 2003, Coal Chamber split up after ten years together. This wasn't seen as a big surprise due to then-new album "Dark Days" not really doing much. I'd only heard a couple of tracks and that was enough. Vocalist Dez Fafara (who returns for this album, also joined by guitarist Meegs, drummer Mikey and bassist Nadja) then formed Devildriver - and started hanging round with Phil Anselmo as if that would make everyone forget he was once in a nu-metal band and was now into proper metal. Talk of a reunion would often surface but nothing came about it until September 2011 when the babd officially reformed. Progress was initially slow due to Devildriver now being the day-job, but after a few gigs here and there, the band soon entered the studio to record this album. Let's all have a listen...

Well, the first song, "I.O.U Nothing" thunders in and sets the pace. Quite a crunchy, artifical harmonic-infused main riff gives way to shouty, growly chorus which, frankly, is quite good. Any early thoughts about whether they're going to go back to the sugar-rush bounce of the debut are quickly dispelled. This is metal with meat on it's bones, that is for sure.

"Bad Blood Between Us" is one of those songs that has a fretboard-wankery intro then begins proper, whilst not as urgent or as frantic as the first one, It has a nice mid-pace thud to it. Dez sounds all pissed off but at least it's a more coherent anger instead of just shouting LOCO!!! BIG TRUCK!!! SWAY!!! MONKEY!!! THIS IS THE WAY ITS GOT TO BE!!! Sorry, couldn't resist it!

Right, I'm sensing a theme here. And the theme is mid-paced stompers. Because the third track, "Light In The Shadows" is just that. I'm sure things will pick up and there will be more variety to come though. Don't get me wrong, they've done these first three songs very well, it's just that we're starting to get into AC/DC territory in the sense that we've got some right no-frills drumming here. But without weed, meth and threats of violence. Nice outro though.

And a song with a bit of a spring to it. "Suffer In Silence". Or SUFFER IN SILENCE!!! if we're copying Dez during the intro. Seems to have a different sound a vibe to the first three...which makes me think that they were outtakes. Possibly from "Dark Days" as they sounded a wee bit like the song "Fiend" from that album. This one, however, has a bit of swing and groove behind it, great riff too.

What sounds like a bulldozer backfiring leads into..oh hell, the "do do do-do do, do do do-do do," style of nu-metal riffing. "The Bridges You Burn" is the song and so far, it's the closest the band have got to going back to the good old days. Mind, it's a nice reminder. Like meeting a good mate from fifteen years ago and catching up as well as reliving the old times.

"Orion" is next and is creepy music-spoken word intro. And it didn't last long. Would have sounded better at the start of the album instead of the middle, even though that is a premise that has been done to death.

"Another Nail In The Coffin" does it's best to try and make an impression - and it does, albeit not in the way you'd think. Bouncy and crunchy in equal measure, it's good. Although I think we've heard better songs up to this point. While we wait for this to finish, I'd just like to mention that we've got a good production job on this album. Quite bass-heavy which is good.

The title track is next ("Rivals") and it sounds like another nu-metal revisit - fretboard wankery fed through an FX unit for verses and mighty riffs for choruses. "Anything goes", apparently. It's also apparent the band have a few collective bees in their bonnets (something established very early on in this album, I might add).

Hopefully, the next song will chill us all out. It's called "Wait" and conjures up images of serene new age pan pipes and stuff. Hmmm...nope, it's an angry thumper which rants about "burning roses". Not too bad.

Heh, we've got another one of those minute long noise FX things which is classed as a song. Not by a long shot. Seems they couldn't decide which one to keep so threw the pair of them in. It's called "Dumpster Dive" btw.

"Over My Head" thuds and stomps like a twat, and it's a decent song. That's the thing...it's not a bad album, it's just nothing to get too excited about. Shame, really. There have been parts of this album where it sounded like something special was about to happen very soon.

"Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)" is next and is another decent song. Nice mid-section with a bounce-crunch riff. Lyrics are a bit cheesy but CC were never known for any great lyrical insights.

And we're onto the final song - "Empty Handed". Sounds like it would get the dance floor going at the nearest rock club - if there are any left.

Well, there you go. The verdict is in and...whilst you can certainly hear a sense of urgency in the music like the band set out to give it their all and write the best album of their careers, it's merely just a good album. It'll not be the heaven-sent gamechanger that was sent to you by God himself but it'll certainly provide you with a few minutes of fun, be it on the commute to work, pounding a few in the club or even while beasting yourself at the gym. You could certainly do a lot worse.

7 - This is good and well worth a check.

Chris J.


This album is available on iTunes.


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