Well, this was an unexpected album – perhaps even as long ago as 2011 when the band reformed for a “one-off” festival performance, could anyone think there’d be a new LP? Especially with frontman Fafara stating that it would never happen? And then DevilDriver called it a day after mentions had been made of new Coal Chamber material.
So here we are with Rivals, due out on the 19th of May (just as the UK tour begins), and the first bundle of new songs since 2002’s Dark Days.
The first thing I’ll say is that this really sounds like a Coal Chamber album, not a DevilDriver offshoot. I went back and listened to their earlier stuff (oh, memories!) to be sure and there’s no denying this is updated Coal Chamber.
It’s dirty, grinding and groovy with a ton of hooks and head-pounding rhythms, lyrics spat or sneered out – if you’re not angry at the world when you start listening to it then you will be by the end.
Tracks vary from bouncy, catchy numbers such as “The Bridges You Burn” (which will have dancefloors creaking under the weight of an entire crowd leaping simultaneously) through to much darker and creep tracks like “Light In The Shadows” with its vocals sounding like the audio equivalent of a campfire story. Told by Pantera.
“Another Nail in the Coffin” is another storming headbanger which will go down a storm live, while “Fade Away” is probably the track most likely to cause air-punching and synchronised singing. I’m not sure what to make of the minute-long “Dumpster Dive” though.
There’s no of lack of variety throughout and I doubt anyone who was a fan of the band pre-split will be disappointed by what’s on offer here. It’s like they took a break to kick some fresh ideas around, and it’s paid off. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing them in Glasgow around 18 years after the last time I caught them live – and when I interviewed a very young-looking Dez Fafara!