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Music / Coal Chamber

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Coal Chamber then...
Coal Chamber are a Nu Metal band formed in Los Angeles, California... well, actually it'd be more accurate to say they were one of the first Nu Metal bands, and in fact the name itself comes from an early review of their music. The band is notable for not utilizing the Hip-Hop influence taken by some other bands of the subgenre; they preferred a darker, more gothic and industrial sound, and could be considered something of a precursor to bands like Slipknot.

Dez Fafara (vocals) and Meegs Rascón (guitar) formed the band in 1993, and soon acquired the services of Rayna Foss (bass) and Mike "Bug" Cox (drums). After creating a local stir and being promoted by Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, the band were signed to Roadrunner Records, only to be briefly dropped when Dez quit out of disagreements with his wife. Dez wound up getting divorced (which inspired the song "Unspoiled") and rejoined the band. After being a part of the very first Ozzfest in 1996, they released their self-titled debut, lead by the single "Loco," in 1997. It remains their most successful album, going Gold in the US.

Sharon Osbourne briefly became their manager through the time of their next album, Chamber Music, released in 1999. This partnership allowed Coal Chamber to bring in Ozzy Osbourne as a guest vocalist for a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Shock The Monkey." Chamber Music in general altered the band's sound in order to have more of an electronic sheen and a better sense of melody, but the album didn't sell quite as well as the debut.
...and Coal Chamber now.
Sharon parted ways with the band after creative differences. After "finding Christ," Rayna Foss would fall out with Fafara and leave the band herself to raise a child with Morgan Rose, the drummer from Sevendust. She would be replaced by Nadja Peulen for the ensuing tour for back-to-basics third album, Dark Days. The tour wound up fraught with infighting, culminating in an on-stage altercation in Lubbock, Texas where Dez stormed offstage after getting hit with Meegs' guitar. The band did a few more appearances, but dissolved completely in a mess of bad blood and drug abuse. After putting out the demos/rarities collection Giving The Devil His Due, Dez went on to form the band Devildriver to some success.

After Meegs and Dez publicly patched things up at a Devildriver concert (which involved a special rendition of "Loco") the band reunited in 2011 for a tour, with new bassist Chela Rhea Harper. Signing to Napalm Records, the band put out their fourth album, Rivals, in 2015. They reunited with Nadja Puelen prior to the sessions. The reunion didn't last long due to some more internal struggles, and the band went on hiatus in 2016.

While Dez declared Coal Chamber dead in 2018, he clarified later that as far as one more reunion goes, he "wouldn't put it past us." Sure enough, the band announced another reunion for the Sick New World festival in Las Vegas, in May of 2023.


  1. Coal Chamber (1997)
  2. Chamber Music (1999)
  3. Dark Days (2002)
  4. Giving The Devil His Due (2003) (compilation of B-sides, remixes & demos)
  5. Rivals (2015)

Tropes associated with Coal Chamber include:

  • Big "SHUT UP!": "No Home."
    SHUT UP, I'll kick you out
    SHUT UP, I'll do you in
  • Big Word Shout: Too many examples to list.
  • Careful with That Axe: Dez, pre-breakup.
  • Cover Version: The aforementioned Peter Gabriel cover, featuring Ozzy!
  • Greatest Hits Album: The Best Of Coal Chamber.
  • Looped Lyrics: Too many examples to list.
  • Madness Mantra: Dez came up with several of these on the debut.
    "this is the way it's got to be, this is the way it's got to be, this is the way it's got to be, this is the way it's got to be....."
  • Metal Scream: Dez and his monster growl. By Dark Days it was constant, even moreso on Rivals.
  • Motor Mouth: The verses of "Loco" are delivered in a rapid-fire fashion.
  • New Sound Album: Chamber Music toned down the aggression and added elements of Gothic Metal and Industrial Metal, to mixed reactions. Dark Days was closer to the sound of their self-titled debut, except a lot harder and faster.
  • Nu Metal: The Trope Namer for the style, with a review for their debut being the first time the term was utilised. Coal Chamber captured what the whole scene looked like before the Hip-Hop influence became more prevalent around the Turn of the Millennium.
  • Sanity Slippage: Dez's whole vocal style in the early days had this approach, going from a mumbled rambling of a verse to an unhinged bark on the chorus. Later, and especially post-Devildriver, he's all growls.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted - Dez is a pretty laid-back dude in interviews, contrasted with the madman barking lyrics at you during Coal Chamber songs.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: The band broke up because the band sans Dez got into methamphetamine, and he didn't want to fund their addictions. They didn't reform until the others cleaned up.
  • The Smurfette Principle: It seems to be a rule that there must always be a female bassist in the band - namely, Rayna Foss, Nadja Peulen and Chela Rhea Harper.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Dez would sometimes engage in clean singing to balance out the growls, though it's less "singing" and "tensed-up muttering".
  • Studio Chatter: The Hidden Track on the self-titled debut is several minutes of joking around from the recording sessions.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Burgundy," a weird, spacey track from Chamber Music.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: The band's riffs were a bit minimal, often only one or two chords. "Oddity" and "Tyler's Song" are good examples.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Loco," "Big Truck."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: "Beckoned" from Dark Days can be summed up like this. It's about self-destructive friends ruining their lives and probably going to Hell when they die, but at least they'll go together. This stings harder knowing how drugs were about to play a role in the band's breakup.
    You have messed up, can't do anything
    I have messed up, can't do anything
    You're just a fuckup, I'm just a fuckup
    We're just two fuckups; at least we're fucked up together