When I talk about Coal Chamber I feel like the only person in the world who hasn’t been swept up into the spooky-core nostalgic bubble. I haven’t welcomed a new Coal Chamber album as many have because I don’t want Dez Fafara’s involvement to affect Devildriver, a vastly superior band.
Even if that wasn’t the case…Coal Chamber isn’t a band with a wonderfully unblemished track record. Putting it bluntly…a lot of their music has been fairly awful. Their split back in 2003 was not pretty but here we are…the first new Coal Chamber album since Dark Days in 2002.
The opening song is I.O.U. Nothing, a punchy start that is quite exciting but doesn’t manage to keep the momentum going long enough.
Bad Blood Between Us has plenty of groove to it with a welcome punchy drum beat accompanying Dez’s trademark growls.
Light in the Shadows is the first song that really sounds like a Coal Chamber song & is better for it. Simple riffs that have big impact & Dez throwing some rarely heard cleaner vocals in. The song drifts away nearer the end but it’s a catchy number none the less.
Suffer in Silence has Ministry’s Al Jourgensen jumping in to assist on vocal duties. Not that it really matters as the song is consistently average & won’t stay long in the memory.
The fifth song, The Bridges You Burn is another distinctly average song before the minute long spoken word/psychedelic track, Orion offers up something fresh even if it fails to impress.
Another Nail in the Coffin takes things back up to speed again with an excellent drumming/bass combo. The anger & aggression is there…you can hear even if it often isn’t convincing. The song threatens to really explode into an out-right Coal Chamber classic at times but never quite gets there.
One of the best songs on the album…
The album title, Rivals screeching intro leading into a slower, downbeat song feels like it is on repeat before being followed by Wait, a groove heavy, beat-laden number. Normally that would be something to praise but everything feels way too familiar.
It seems as though Coal Chamber have run out of ideas at this point in the album save for an occasional guitar solo.
Dumpster Dive is a minute long distortion/off drum beat that does one good thing…create anticipation for Over my Head which is the bounciest song on the album.
The penultimate song, Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets) is a well-built song that suffers from repetition (a trend throughout the album). The guitar whine that underscores sections of the song works really well though.
The album closer…Empty Handed does little to see things off with a bang. Plenty of groove but not much else. It’s hard to get excited about an ‘alright’ Coal Chamber song especially coming at the end of lengthy album that hasn’t exactly inspired.
The album has far too many filler tracks & it becomes clear around the halfway mark that they have run out of ideas…repeating beats so many times that it is hard to remember which song was which. It’s not all bad though & there are plenty of moments where quality shines through…
Coal Chamber - Rivals (Napalm Records)