It’s been far too long since the last metal band, music fans! Sometimes that genre label is used a bit too liberally and when someone tells you to try out a specific group, it’s a band that doesn’t truly have an edge. Today’s featured act is about as heavy as it gets which, I’ll admit, won’t be for everyone.
In the latter days of 1994, Dino Cizares from the band Fear Factory got behind the demo tape of an unheard-of band called Coal Chamber. That action alone caused a ruckus in the Los Angeles area metal scene and suddenly Coal Chamber was getting gigs at The Roxy and Whisky a Go Go among other famous venues. Roadrunner Records even stepped in to offer the band a contract. While in the recording phase of the deal, Coal Chamber was getting out and touring. In 1996 were invited to play Ozzfest, which is almost akin to the Woodstock for heavy metal enthusiasts—everyone who is anyone in that genre has played Ozzfest. Well, Coal Chamber was there at the inaugural version of the event. Their performance inspired Mike Cox to become the group’s drummer, which seemed to be the key piece they were missing to make a great record.
The now complete Coal Chamber headed to NRG Recording in North Hollywood and really started to grind. Their self-titled debut hit shelves in February of 1997. The label promoted the record with the release of a music video for the lead single “Loco”, but they waited until almost a year after the initial release. The band never stopped touring in the meantime though. During that window, Coal Chamber shared stages with some of the most iconic metal acts of all time in ’97 including Anthrax, Danzig, Faith No More and Pantera. In summer they made appearance number two at the second-annual Ozzfest— gaining even more attention for the group and the record. That particular touring cycle lasted until 1998, around the time the album was certified gold in the U.S. It’s sold about a million copies to date worldwide—their best-selling album in the catalog.
You could easily compare Coal Chamber’s debut to more mainstream bands like Korn or White Zombie. And while I think those are reasonably accurate, Coal Chamber and their tunes cut a bit harder than either of those bands. Dez Fafara’s vocal is a growling, baritone, shout most of the time that is pretty polarizing. Sure, you get some tracks where he shows he can actually sing too—but if you get weary of the heavy screaming type of metal, you may want to sample this with caution. Critics at the time didn’t seem ready for the album yet—at least in the moment. Fast forward to 2020, and Metal Hammer magazine named it as one of their top 20 metal albums of all time. Kerrang! called it the fifteenth best metal album ever. There are beats on this album that could compete with the most intense hip-hop album, which I guess to me makes it more of a nu-metal record than classic metal. But either way, I actually enjoy it. When you feel like going on a metal rager, this should certainly be an essential piece of your playlist.
Coal Chamber has been viewed as a major influence for more modern metal bands and the grooves, beats, and aggression from their sound was copied time and time again. They took a break for several years between 2003 and 2011 and then called it quits officially in 2016. Give them a listen today if you’re even remotely into this type of music. I think it has its place, and maybe you’ll agree. Happy Tuesday!
Top 3 Tracks:
- Big Truck