Coal Chamber
Chamber Music



by Kyle Banick USER (30 Reviews)
June 6th, 2005 | 19 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Coal Chamber’s sophomore release.

Dez Fafara – Vocals
Meega Rascon – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Rayna Foss-Rose – Bass
Mike “ Bug" Cox – Drums

3.El Cu Cuy
5.Tyler’s Song
6.What’s In Your Mind?
7.Not Living
8.Shock the Monkey
11.Feed My Dreams
12.My Mercy
13.No Home
14.Shari Vegas
16.Anything But You

Coal Chamber fits the mold of Nu Metal pretty well. Though I’ve always seen the “genre" as basically a catch-all term for mainstream Hard Rock/Metal acts appearing from the mid-to-late nineties, those who would have you believe Nu Metal is its own genre have plenty to argue for here. After all, we see the fusion of heavy, down-tuned riffs with hip hop elements and simplistic music. Is this a bad thing, a weakness on Coal Chamber’s part? I think not. After all, Dream Theater fits the mold of Prog Rock pretty da[font=]mn[/font] well, too. And Coal Chamber isn’t a band-wagon hopper in my mind. They were one of the original Nu Metal bands to become popular, along with Korn.

Now, am I going to claim that this is an amazing album? No. But I will say that the simplicity of Coal Chamber’s music works, and this is a fun album to listen to. It’s really heavy by Nu Metal’s standards, with crunching, lurching guitars and aggressive vocals. Dez Fafara has a unique vocal style, and here he comes up with some very satisfying melodies, and some surprisingly strong vocal sections run throughout. One thing that bothers me about this, though, is that what seems to set this release apart from anything else put out in the mainstream hard rock scene is the vocals—not the instrumentals. A lot of the guitar riffs could easily find a pleasant home on a Korn or Ill Nino album.

Some of the highlights:
The album starts off with an interesting, mellow-dark string arrangement on Mist, which blasts straight into a fast-paced single note guitar riff and some nice sinister vocals from Dez on the next song, Tragedy. Weird vocal harmonies in the chorus are the highlight of this song. Untrue begins with a nice, reverberated clean riff and bass groove before exploding through the speakers with an ultra-chunky and brooding riff, and the pre-chorus builds great suspense with Dez screaming “You’ve been untrue, I’ve seen it before and I see it again," before going for the insanely infectious chorus melody, with the guitars forming a nice backdrop for the melodic section. The lyrics seem to be about an untrustworthy significant other or friend. Not Living is perhaps the best song on here, with a good heavy riff then a nice break of clean guitars before a palm-muted buildup in the verse and a good, intense chorus. Working like a spring, it builds intensity and releases it at the right times. Burgundy is an interesting piece with female backing vocals during the verse of some vibrato guitar effects, and baritone singing.

After that point, the album begins to lose steam. I’ve highlighted the good songs from the first half of the album, but I’m afraid not all is well even in the beginning. El Cu Cuy and What’s In Your Mind are pretty average at best, and Shock The Monkey is a downright laughable affair (which features Ozzy Osbourne on vocals). The closing song, Anything But You, is a slow, melancholy song that is one of the best on here, breaking the monotony of the last half with a good bass intro and atmospheric, Korn-like guitars. Entwined is also worth a mention, with evil guitar riffs and very sinister-sounding chorus that builds up to a big ending.

The good part:
Okay, so the formula gets old after a while. Chunky riffs abound the second half of the album, and the lyrics are quite predictable, the bass is consistently solid, and the drums are pretty basic…nothing to write home about but not horrible either. There’s more to like about this album than just raw heavy rockin’. Underneath the surface of the distorted wall of guitars, thumping bass, and angsty vocals lie some hidden treasures. Keyboards abound, and though they’re dwelling underneath the darkness, they’re there and they add some good atmospheric textures and nice arrangement details. Josh Abraham and Troy Van Leeuwen (A Perfect Cirlce) provide keyboards for the album, and guest appearances from Orgy’s Jay Gordon (Burgundy) and Amir Derakh (No Home, Notion) as well as DJ Lethal all add some nice color sprinkled throughout the album. Anything from percussive synths to keyboards and freaky sounds come from these collaborations, and it gives the album a good layered, dark feel. Guitarist Meega Rascon also has quite a few soaring guitar parts that add more color to his intensive, heavy guitar chunkage. CHeck out My Mercy for a song that is really enhanced by the keyboards; they add a great atmosphere and mood to the song, and make it a stand out on the record.

Final Impressions:
Throughout Coal Chamber’s entire ill-fated career, not much growth was seen. They never managed to separate themselves from their drop-tuned guitar sound and angst, although it never seemed like they were trying to anyway. Overall, though, Chamber Music is a scattered and somewhat uncohesive record with too many average moments and not enough good ones. They would follow up this album with their final and surprisingly superior album, Dark Days, which is less varied but more cohesive, dark and overall stronger.

If you’re not a fan of Nu Metal, this certainly won’t change your mind. If you happen to like Nu Metal, then you should consider this. If you’re a Coal Chamber fan, then I recommend it highly. I like it, because it's dark and brooding music that's not too complex, and it fits certain moods. This is the kind of album you can blast in the car stereo, roll down the windows, and enjoy a ride with your friends.

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user ratings (131)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Freezing Moon
June 6th 2005


I've only heard Tyler's Song, and that's because I searched my name on limewire, heh.

I can't say I'm a fan at all (I actually disliked the song quite a bit), but good review anyway.

June 6th 2005


Yeah, I realize their aren't going to be many fans here, but there weren't any Coal Chamber reviews, so I figured I might as well throw one out there. I like this album, but not it's really not great. It's just a fun record to listen to, and pretty different from what I normally listen to. Average is a good word for it, so I gave it three stars.

June 6th 2005


There are some songs that I really do like on here, and others are just very bland, while a few are downright bad. Like I said in the review, Dark Days is actually a stronger album, which I didn't realize until I started reviewing this.

June 6th 2005


I have coal chamber first 3 albums. I actually loved this band like 3 years ago. Their main problem is that they have a lot of fillers, except in dark days. Good review

June 7th 2005


I have Coal Chamber's S/T album and Giving The Devil His Due

GTDHD isn't really a studio album...more like a remix/rarities album.

S/T, i loved the first half of it...the 2nd half wasn't so good. Coal Chamber puts out decent music..its solid on all points.

Only complaint: it sounds similar (but i guess thats to be expected in nu-metal)

December 15th 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review... Not Living, El Cu Cuy and My Mercy are all standouts. Dark Days though is a better album, much better track lisitng.

June 19th 2006


It is a very different album for nu-metal. I enjoyed this one.

September 5th 2007


Just listened to this today. A fun listen.

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

September 5th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review Kage. I really enjoyed these guys back in the day of my Nu-Metal craze! This review actually just inspired me to dust off this cd and give it a spin. This Message Edited On 09.05.07

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

November 13th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, except the score D: lol

I'd give this Cd a 4/5

There are some really solid songs on here, as compared to Dark Days or their debut

Anything but you, entwined, notion, not living, my mercy, no home, and shari vegas are all standouts

November 13th 2007


Tylers Song,Tragedy, and Untrue are great.

February 2nd 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

I like this CD quite a bit, not going to lie
Anything But You is a nu-metal masterpiece :thumb:This Message Edited On 02.08.08

March 28th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

anything but you, tylers song, shari vegas, not living are great songs.

March 28th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

i also like the peter gabriel cover: shock the monkey! is funny xD

February 12th 2010


Album Rating: 2.5

Love the riff on "No Home".
The rest of the album just kinda blends in to me.

May 24th 2010


terrible band

July 11th 2010


WTF was really surprised at how good this was

May 8th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

i claim "burgundy" to be the band's peak. its such a rare sound to catch.
rest is ok too.

woman on the cover reminds me of Cher.

October 2nd 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

Liked these guys a lot back in the day, kinda hard to listen to most of their songs today as my tastes have changed, but a few I still like such as not living, and untrue which are good pissed off bad relationship songs if you need some.

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