Coal Chamber Burns As Bright As Ever On Rivals

Courtesy:  Napalm Records

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Ten years ago, Coal Chamber front man Dez Fafara made it official that he and his then former band mates were done. He said that Coal Chamber was finished and that it would never get back together. Apparently nobody ever told Fafara to never say never. That’s because that “never” only lasted about six years. In 2011, he joined forces once again with guitarist Miguel Rascon and drummer Mike Cox and started up the fire in the chamber (bad pun fully intended here). The trio is currently joined by bassist Nadja Puelen, who also recorded and performed with Coal Chamber for a period of time after the departure of original bassist Rayna Foss Rose. Four years removed from Coal Chamber’s resurrection, the band has released an album in the form of Rivals that shows the band’s time apart did it plenty of good. That is because it sounds as strong as it did in its heyday. This is evident more than once through the course of the album’s thirteen total tracks including the album’s second track, ‘Bad Blood Between Us,’ its title track, and its penultimate song ‘Fade Away (karma Never Forgets).’ These are just a few examples of the fire that has been building inside the band since its breakup and subsequent reunion. Each of the remaining ten tracks that make up the rest of this record show exhibit just as much fire and fury in their own way. Whether for those tracks or for the compositions noted here, audiences will agree in listening to each work that collectively they make Rivals an album that *rivals* the band’s previous releases with ease. And because it does, it proves itself a record that long-time fans and newer fans alike should hear at least once.

Thirteen years have passed since Coal Chamber released its last full-length studio effort Dark Days. Who ever would have thought that upon its release that album’s title would be such a foreshadowing for the band? While well over a decade has passed since the release of that album and the band’s latest release Rivals, that span of time has clearly done more good for frontman Dez Fafara and his band mates–Mike Cox (drums), Miguel Rascon (bass) and Nadja Puelen (bass)–than bad. That is because Rivals shows through the course of its thirteen tracks that it is just as strong as it was in that album’s release if not stronger. Whatever bad blood was there so long ago has seemingly been healed at least to some extent. Interestingly enough that same bad blood has actually helped make Rivals the strong record that it is. It has helped in that it serves as the basis for one of the best of the album’s compositions; the aptly titled ‘Bad Blood Between Us.’ Fafara writes clearly of the emotions that he felt upon the band’s split and the time leading up to its split in this song. That is made crystal clear in the song’s chorus as Fafara writes, “There’s some bad blood that flow between us/That flows between us/Turning the other cheek just evens out the scars/Nothing drowns the sorrow.” He goes on to write in the song’s closing lines, “Say it/We’re out for blood/I’m out for blood/It’s time to unravel/This wrath is on you/Heed this warning/Take this message/I’m out for blood.” The message is clear here. There was obviously a lot of animosity both in the days leading up to the band’s breakup and the actual breakup at least on the part of Fafara. This is just a small part of the picture painted by Fafara, too. The rest of the song’s verses coupled with the fury of its musical side makes the picture in question even richer and clearer for audiences. And being so vivid, it makes for just one impressive example of what makes Rival an easy *rival* against the band’s previous albums.

The energy and emotion exhibited in ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ is a prime example of just how much Coal Chamber has to offer on its new album. While it does plenty to show just how much the band has to offer in itself, it’s just one example of how much Coal Chamber has to offer in its latest outing.  The album’s title track also makes clear that Coal Chamber still has plenty to offer audiences. The juxtaposition of the song’s more contemplative verses to its more impactful chorus in its musical side builds a strong foundation for the song. The lyrical content laid overtop each verse and chorus makes the song even more powerful. Fafara ruminates in the song’s verses, thinking about all the bad that has been done to the song’s subject, writing in the first verse alone, “You spit in my face/You reek all over this place/Try to bend my will just to get your thrills/After all this time/You’d think it would all be fine/But it feels out of line/It’s so hateful/Jealousy reigns/It causes so much pain/But it helps to eliminate/The unfaithful.” This could apply to a marital situation. It could point to a friendship gone wrong, too. It could even relate to another situation entirely. Regardless, these straight forward lyrics and Fafara’s delivery of said lyrics set opposite the song’s chorus make for a song that hits listeners just as hard as any other piece on this record. the same can be said of the song’s second verse set against the song’s chorus, too. It makes the song just as hard-hitting as ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ and in turn just as solid an example of how much Coal Chamber has to offer audiences in this record.

Both ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ and ‘Rivals’ show in their own way that despite thirteen years between the release of Rivals and Coal Chamber’s last album, the band has lost none of its edge. If anything they show that the fire burning beneath the band’s members is burning as bright as ever. If those examples are not enough for audiences, then the album’s penultimate composition ‘Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)’ should do the trick. This song proves just as strongly as the previously examined works what makes Rivals worth at least one listen by long-time fans and newer fans alike. This song is a full on assault both musically and lyrically. Puelen, Rascon and Cox are the driving force behind the song from beginning to end. Fafara’s fury in his no-nonsense lyrics and vocal delivery add the proverbial icing to the cake. He lets listeners know he means business as he screams in the song’ chorus, “Fade away/Karma never forgets/It’ll be one hell of a war/Before you rise against me.” Fafara makes no bones about it here. He is saying to someone, “Want some? Come get some.” As if there was any room for doubt, he goes on to sing in the song’s lead verse and refrain, “Stripped me apart/Left me in the dark/Because you took it too far/Now I keep your heart locked up/With herbs and bone in a black mason jar.” Whether this is aimed at a former romantic interest or the result of very hurt feelings from the band’s original breakup, the one thing that can be said of these lyrics is that they leave little to question other than the subjects(s) at whom the song is aimed. The fury in the song’s music and lyrics is very real. And being so clearly real it makes this song yet another example of what makes Rivals such a strong return for Coal Chamber. Together with ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ and ‘Rivals’ the trio of songs noted here show without a single doubt that Coal Chamber is back and in a big way. In fact together with the remaining ten tracks not noted here, the album in whole proves once more why it is a solid *rival* to Coal Chamber’s previous releases and any other hard rock record released so far this year.

‘Bad Blood Between Us,’ ‘Rivals,’ and ‘Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)’ are all excellent examples of the strength of Coal Chamber’s new full-length studio release. That is not to take away from the album’s other songs not noted here. Each of the remaining ten songs that make up the rest of the album’s body could easily be cited as examples of the album’s strength, too. All things considered, Rivals presents Coal Chamber as a band that is just as strong today as it was in its heyday and a band that is ready to make its mark on the rock and metal community again. Rivals is available now in stores and online. More information on the album is available online now along with all of the latest news and tour updates at:




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