Saturday, 30 May 2015

Album Review; Coal Chamber - Rivals

Track Listing:

1. I.O.U. Nothing
2. Bad Blood Between Us
3. Light In The Shadows
4. Suffer In Silence
5. The Bridges You Burn
6. Orion
7. Another Nail In The Coffin
8. Rivals
9. Wait
10. Dumpster Dive
11. Over My Head
12. Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)
13. Empty Handed

Nu-Metal has threatened to make a return of sorts over the last few years. Between KoRn getting back on track, Linkin Park releasing a heavier album (ahem!), bands like King 810, Escape The Fate and In This Moment putting Nu-Metal influences into their music, then you have tours and releases that have all hinted at the 2000's sub-genre rising again. However, it's never truly materialised. One could speculate at many reasons for this, including the obvious reason that a genre like Nu-Metal could never hit those lofty heights twice, or the fact that Limp Bizkit are irritating people more now than back in the day.

All that being said; Coal Chamber's reunion shows between 2011 and 2013 took everybody by surprise. Considering the sheer implosion that famously destroyed the band back in 2003, and the subsequent success of Dez Fafara's post-Coal Chamber band Devildriver, one would never have imagined any chance (or need) for Coal Chamber to reunite. Let alone release new music. Lo and behold, that's exactly what has happened.

The minute you press play, you're probably preparing to be transported back to the year 1997. Well, you'd be half right. The bullish rock riff of 'I.O.U. Nothing' has all the in-your-face, simplistic aggression of the Nu-Metal of yore, but lyrically, many moments on the album such as 'Bad Blood Between Us' spit a kind of venom that sounds like a sincere casting off of demons. Be they the demons that led to the original split-up of the band or a fuck-you aimed at those who doubt Coal Chamber's return, among other possibilities, it's up to the listener to decide. There are also tracks aimed at the corrupt ('Light In The Shadows'), past relationships ('The Bridges You Burn') and bitter betrayals ('Rivals'). Dez Fafara's voice has always been an effective conduit for rage, and on this record he proves this point once again.

One song that proves Coal Chamber are not here to simply relive old glories is 'Suffer In Silence', which is a creep-show of the highest and best order. Given an industrial difference with the help of guest co-vocalist, Ministry main man Al Jourgensen, it shows that this industrial element suits Coal Chamber down to the ground. It would be interesting to see if they choose to indulge in this new territory at some point in the future.

Musically, the album does occasionally flurry off into impressive areas, but the one big problem that holds this album back is the repetition in the tempos, beats and overall sound. Granted; Nu-Metal has never been known to be particularly varied or adventurous in its sonic capabilities, but 'Rivals', while effective as a turn-your-brain-off attack of heavy music, does serve to remind you why this genre faded out in the end. The album flows fine, but without any significant peaks or troughs. Instead of a rollercoaster ride, it is more like taking a boat out on a lake; steady, linear and with all possible directions in clear sight, without a need for much urgency. Some may feel that it outstays its welcome a bit; there is maybe one or two tracks too many. 'Dumpster Dive' seems particularly pointless, as it only stalls the aforementioned steady pace of the record, and doesn't really serve to lead into the following track.

Those criticisms aside, this is effective for what it is. There are moments of joyous vitriol on this record that are going to effectively induce mosh pits and a whole lot of jumping around at the band's shows. For some, that may well be enough, especially after a drink. Though there will obviously be the people out there looking for something more challenging, but this album clearly carries the purpose of simply enjoying yourself as you raise middle fingers and get shit off your chest.

Rating: 7/10

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