Coal Chamber – Rivals

Rating: 4/5
Label: Napalm Records
Released: 2015
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Coal Chamber Rivals
Coal Chamber Rivals
Band Lineup:

Vocals: Dez Fafara
Guitar: Miguel Rascon
Bass: Najda Peulen
Drums: Mike Cox
Guest Vocals: Al Jourgensen (track 4)

Track Listing:

01. I.O.U. Nothing

02. Bad Blood Between Us
03. Light in the Shadows
04. Suffer in Silence
05. The Bridges You Burn
06. Orion
07. Another Nail in the Coffin
08. Rivals
09. Wait
10. Dumpster Dive
11. Over My Head
12. Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)
13. Empty Handed


So it would seem, against all odds, Coal Chamber managed to set their differences aside just over a decade after their album ‘Dark Days’ was released. Nadja Peulen, Mike Cox and Miguel Rascon reunited with Dez Fafara after doing rather well as the front man of Devildriver, to collaborate on their new album ‘Rivals.’ The gang managed to repair their broken relationship in 2011 and the reunion was a hot topic in the metal industry, with a guest appearance on the album by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, the spotlight for 2015 has been fixed upon them, their album scrutinised by the masses. The verdict? Read on.

While Devildriver have a slightly heavier sound than Coal Chamber, ‘Rivals’ carries similar sounding qualities to Fafara’s other band. Not just the in the obvious respect of vocals, but with instrumental qualities too.

The album kicks off with the song “I.O.U. Nothing,” an exclusively released track, is noticeably bass carried and the driving beat makes this song bouncy and a definite ‘foot tapper’. Dez Fafara’s familiar growl resonates over Mike Cox’s drumming efforts. It is considered by a few to be similar to the hit song ‘Loco.’ The song is catchy and possibly, the thinking is, to put their best foot forward to kick off the album. I would say this might be the favourite out of all the songs on ‘Rivals.’

The song ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ is in a similar vein. A song to get people moving, exploring vocal talents of Fafara, lending his signature growl to a delightful harmony again, as opposed to the raw sound he produces otherwise. A good song in my opinion, one that sits well as a second song in and invites the buyers of the album to listen on.

The entire album basically shows off the range of Dez Fafara’s vocal growls, hitting both low and high notes in his usual style particularly in the title track ‘Rivals.’ The song is pumped up with guitar effects and swings from a more relaxed sounding verse to a strong and powerful chorus. There is a touch I liked on this album however, in the middle of the set there is a short track called ‘Orion’ that seems lighter and slightly less angsty. Serving as a brief relief between heavier tracks on either side of it. The track is around a minute long instrumental with some softly spoken words uttered over the top of it. It sounds unique compared to the rest of the album, disconnected guitars and whispers give a weird but likable inclusion to the album.

Al Jourgensen’s contribution to the album, it would seem, has been well received by the fans. His vocals are on point and work extremely well with the music. The song ‘Suffer In Silence’ is a track weighty with guitar riffs under the wah effect. The track titled ‘The Bridges You Burn’ roams further into the realms of nu metal and sounds pretty much how it should be sounding, safe within its genre and somewhat ‘Korn-esque’ almost.

Overall the latter half of Rivals is the most in keeping with Coal Chamber’s signature Nu Metal sound. “Wait” and “Over My Head,” are both tracks that keep us with similar grooves and beats as the rest of the album, ‘over My Head’ being one of the more bouncy songs on this record. Personally I thought it was well constructed and both songs lend opportunities to Miguel Rascon to show off his soloing skills. These songs take us to the concluding track “Empty Handed” which rounds off the album in good fashion as expected.

I think the album is a considerable effort for a third studio album and a general win for Coal Chamber but the general consensus is the album could be better, that there could have been at least one stronger single on the album somewhere. I am hoping the absence of strong or heavier tunes isn’t an attempt to please a wider variety of people. Many bands have succeeded that way but at the risk of losing an original fan base.
My personal opinion is that I like it. I enjoyed hearing more of Coal Chamber, one of my favourite bands as a teen, I enjoyed their live performance earlier this year in Manchester and I wish them luck. They seem likable characters with great stage presence and many adoring fans. The band are definitely on the up again and I hope they can soar once again as they deserve.