COAL CHAMBER singer Dez Fafara says that he is proud to have been part of the so-called "nu-metal" genre in the mid-'90s to the early 2000s, claiming that his band was one of several California-based acts who "did something special" and "helped save L.A."
Essentially a fusion of rap and alternative rock (arguably born out of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE), nu metal inexplicably swept the airwaves and peaked for a brief period in the late nineties and early noughties, with Gregory Heaney of AllMusic describing the genre as "one of metal's more unfortunate pushes into the mainstream." Along the way, several bands associated with nu metal, including KORN, DEFTONES and SLIPKNOT, took a somewhat defensive stance against being labeled as such. Even those less apologetic nu metal groups eventually changed their sound, effectively disowning the genre that they helped pioneer.
Although COAL CHAMBER never achieved the level of success enjoyed by KORN, SYSTEM OF A DOWN or DEFTONES, the group's gold-certified debut album in 1997 established the Fafara-fronted act as one of the most promising bands on the then-emerging "nu metal" scene.
"There was a big camaraderie thing between the bands, and we were all doing something unique," Dez told Metal Hammer magazine. "DEFTONES were doing something entirely different from what SYSTEM were doing, with their Armenian influences. COAL CHAMBER had a way heavier sound with a gothic feel; we were one of the only bands who understood BAUHAUS and THE CURE as well as we understood BLACK SABBATH and [METALLICA's] 'Ride The Lightning'. So we watched everybody come up and get signed and eventually we signed with Roadrunner Records. The rest was history."
Speaking about the negativity often associated with the term "nu metal", Fafara said: "My guitar player [Meegs Rascón] said it best: 'Nu metal' was a great term until the second wave of bands came in and we all got put into that 'nu-metal thing.' At that point, even among us, it became a dirty word. Right now, they call [Dez's other band] DEVILDRIVER 'groove metal,' and there aren't many other bands that get called that. So if ten or twenty other bands come out and have that groovy feel and they get big and suddenly 'groove metal' becomes an ugly term, do you hide from it? Of course not — it's something you started."
He continued: "I feel proud that I was part of the scene. I have no room for the fucking purists, so I don't give a shit. I know that we all did something special and we helped save L.A."
Fafara also told the magazine that he believes that nu metal never actually went away, despite many detractors' claim to the contrary.
"Everybody's asking, 'What's up with the nu metal revival?'" he said. "I'm like, 'It's never left!' Hello? SLIPKNOT: arguably one of the biggest bands on the planet, next to METALLICA — nu metal. KORN: never left, bigger than ever right now — nu metal. DEFTONES: getting ready to come out with a slamming new record — nu metal. SYSTEM OF A DOWN: bigger than life — nu metal. These bands never went anywhere. But since we're coming back and doing a record after thirteen years, there's a revival? Those bands are still around, they're bigger than life and they have influence over everybody. Go ask the guitar player in SUICIDE SILENCE what his favorite band is and he'll tell you KORN."
Dez added: "I'd like to think that because of the broad diversity of what we did, now you have all of these metal bands with diversity who sound like they're doing something different. That's it in a nutshell."
COAL CHAMBER's comeback album, "Rivals, sold around 7,100 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 80 on The Billboard 200 chart (which includes stream activity). The band's first CD in over thirteen years, which released on May 19 North America via Napalm, was recorded in part at Audiohammer studio in Sanford, Florida with producer Mark Lewis (DEVILDRIVER, CANNIBAL CORPSE).