Coal Chamber‘s Rivals has been a long time coming. After a very public disbandment in Texas in 2002, it looked like we were never going to have new music from Coal Chamber. Now, we have Rivals, the best album released by the band, hands down. Darker and more sinister than previous recordings, this is a metal masterpiece that proves that a band can take a decade off to work through their problems together and re-form to great things.
My biggest fear coming in to this album was that it was going to sound like vocalist Dez Fafara’s post-Coal Chamber band, DevilDriver. As many of you may know, DevilDriver is a brutal band, and I would consider them borderline Death Metal. Yes, I am a fan of some of their work, but not all. I felt that the older I had gotten, the less brutal I was able to endure. Thanks to that feeling, I haven’t actually revisited any of Coal Chamber‘s past works since their final release of 2002’s Dark Days, an album I thought was severely lacking at the time. Due to my borderline dislike of that album (I may need to revisit their catalog soon), I dropped out of the Coal Chamber fan base. I didn’t follow the breakup, and other than knowing Fafara was in DevilDriver, I just didn’t follow anything to do with the band.
When Coal Chamber‘s first album dropped in 1997, I was instantly a huge fan. Ozzfest was just roaring to life and I discovered a lot of bands that would tour with the festival, Coal Chamber being my favorite of the bunch. Almost twenty years after that self titled debut was launched, I find that I am firmly back in the fan base thanks to the blistering brilliance of Rivals.
This is a dark, sinister, and damn near gothic metal album that eschews all of the Nu Metal trappings that people have falsely attributed to the band over the years. With solid guitar work by Meegs Rascon and a less brutal Dez Fafara at the vocal helm, this is an extremely enjoyable metal album. This is the return of Coal Chamber, in all of it’s dark and seance filled glory. It has proven that I am not too old for brutal, but perhaps the mosh pit may be a little much nowadays.
As I listened to this album in my car on my way to and from work, there was one particular image that came to mind continuously as I listened. An image of my younger years and a seance I attended at the time. While I won’t go into particular details about the seance, let’s just say it didn’t turn out as fun as I expected; the darkness that filled the room that night and the ensuing, mild chaos created an atmosphere that I do not care to revisit anytime ever. This album is the soundtrack to that night. The only difference? I want to revisit this album. Continuously. Over and over.
To my way of thinking, any music that can paint a picture so vividly in your mind and can transport you out of this world into your imagination or your past and create a feeling of nostalgia (or terror, in my case), is something worth noting and keeping. This is what Coal Chamber‘s Rivals did for me. It transported me back, back through the years. It made me revisit my youth. It made me remember when Ozzfest was fun with a phenomenal lineup, and made me revisit a terrifying moment in my life that has had a lingering impact.
This album is a metal masterpiece. I do not make that statement lightly. For a band that disbanded for over a decade to come back swinging this hard is a testament to their greatness as a band. This lineup was magical then, and clearly still are. What they produce is nothing short or magnificent and I am looking forward to seeing them play live again. Pick this album up. I cannot rate it higher.
NOTE: Do not think I give out this rating lightly. This is the first album I have reviewed that I have given a 10/10 rating. This is an exceptionally rare rating for me.