Chamber Music

Coal Chamber

Roadrunner Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, I do feel like the years I spent away from the metal scene have left me at a severe disadvantage when looking at today's metal scene. I missed out on the time when artists like Marilyn Manson came up from the ranks; all I get to see is the multi-platinum, parent-angering end result.

So I do feel like an outsider when I listen to an album like Chamber Music, the latest from Coal Chamber. On one side, I do hear music that is constantly pushing the envelope and causes me to smile. On the other hand, I sometimes hear tracks that fail to resolve themselves in my mind, leaving a rather cluttered picture behind.

Like a lot of bands I've heard of late, Coal Chamber seems to mix the power of bands like Pantera with the fury of Nine Inch Nails. The resulting sound isn't techno, but it isn't quite metal, either. And while many bands are working on perfecting this sound, Coal Chamber - vocalist B. Dez Fafara, guitarist Meegs Rascon, bassist Rayna Foss Rose and drummer Mike "Bug" Cox - do seem to make themselves unique in the crowd.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

After the theme-inspired opener "Mist," Coal Chamber kick things into overdrive with songs like "El Cu Cuy," "Untrue," "What's In Your Mind" and "Not Living". Tracks like these not only are entertaining, but they make the listener think about the boundaries of heavy metal as they know them - and challenge them to expand those boundaries. Granted, it's a little jarring the first time around, but revolution always is.

Chamber Music starts to unwind a bit on their cover of Peter Gabriel's "Shock The Monkey," featuring Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. I don't know if this is the case for the commercial release, but my advance copy had an excerpt of this song, not the full track - and the excerpt seems to waste not only Osbourne's vocal talent (which he still has) but the power of the cover. Here's hoping that the consumer gets the full track.

After that miscue, it almost seems like Coal Chamber just can't hit the target with the rest of Chamber Music. Tracks like "Burgundy," "Feed My Dreams" and "No Home" just don't pack the punch that earlier tracks did. Only "Shari Vegas" comes close, and even that isn't nearly as strong a cut as, say, "Not Living".

What I will admit about Coal Chamber is that they're not a one-listen-and-out band. In order for you to really appreciate what they're doing throughout the album, you have to listen to Chamber Music several times - preferrably over the course of a few days. And I'll admit maybe I haven't spent enough time with this disc, 'cause the more I listen to it, the more I do find I like. But my opinion on the second half of Chamber Music hasn't changed a lick yet.

It might be early in a band's career to call their second album one "for the fans," and I don't doubt that Chamber Music will win over some new fans to Coal Chamber's camp. But for cutting edge metal, this band doesn't always seem to have sharpened its sword for the whole journey. 

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roadrunner Records, and is used for informational purposes only.