Album review

Coal Chamber :
Giving The Devil His Due


Coal Chamber : Giving The Devil His DueIt seems a lot longer ago now . . . but once upon a time, March 1997 to be exact, Coal Chamber looked to be the future of modern metal. No, really. I can distinctly remember playing Big Truck and Bradley in Manchester's Jilly's nightclub one month earlier, enthusing about how this band were going to walk all over Korn. And y'know, for a while they did. Propelled by the two huge singles from their self-titled debut disc, Sway and Loco, Coal Chamber ruled the dancefloor. They also ruled UK metal bible Kerrang!, who seemed to feature bass-babe Rayna or pincushion vocalist Dez Fafara almost every week. Even though they must have assisted in the band's commercial burnout, not all of the blame can be levelled at Kerrang! In a world of freaks and weirdos Dez was in a class of his own. Christ, even I'd have crossed the road to avoid him . . . unless of course he'd seen me first.

1999s Chamber Music was roundly slated by the critics, despite have some great tunes on it. Chances are that whatever they'd put out it would have bombed - that's just the way these things seem to go - but the choice of high-profile pop cover was flawed. Shock The Monkey was great, but it couldn't engender the same level of recognition as Limp Bizkit's Faith or Marilyn Manson's Sweet Dreams.
    Last year's Dark Days was also slagged off by the critics, but on this occasion it was because it genuinely sucked, lead single Fiend excepted.

Which brings us neatly up-to-date with Giving The Devil His Due, a collection of remixes, rarities and demos to punctuate the Coal Chamber story before Dez rejoins the fray with his DevilDriver project. I say project because despite ongoing personnel problems Coal Chamber are technically still a going concern. Don't hold your breath though . . .
    None of the mixes are dramatic departures from the album versions - Roadrunner used to knock these sort of things out on a regular basis to pad out singles - but do predominantly feature Orgy's Jay Gordon on remix duties. Some of them give the originals a run for their money, Big Truck (Hand-On-Wheel Mix) and One Step (Chop Shop Mix) in particular. Also worth mentioning is Headstones And The Walking Dead, a song that remained unfinished after the sessions for the debut album. Now featuring a new vocal track from Dez, Headstones And The Walking Dead stands up well against the more familiar material.

Giving The Devil His Due is admittedly not the ideal way to discover Coal Chamber. However, as far as albums of this ilk are concerned it can only be considered a success, as it's not only comprehensive, but also a pretty good listen. Here's to DevilDriver . . .

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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