The cello prelude that introduces Coal Chamber's ironically titled "Chamber Music" only lasts about 40 seconds, but it does prefigure the disc's expanded timbres. On its second album, this Los Angeles goth-metal band has decided to get musical.
It's not a dramatic transformation. The band's attack is still bruising, and B. Dez Fafara's vocals are still raw and abrasive. Every now and then, however, Fafara will sing rather than growl, and such moments are supported by such tuneful (if usually submerged) touches as synth riffs, churchy chants, string arrangements and backing vocals by guitarist Meegs Rascon and various guests. On "My Mercy," for example, Fafara is joined by Human Waste Project's Aimee Echo and Cher-spawn Elijah Blue Allman. The band's most famous buddy is Ozzy Osbourne, who sings on a fragmentary version of Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey." The album's 15 originals don't include any tunes as catchy as Gabriel's, but such tracks as "Tyler's Song" show the band making progress toward a more hospitable brand of musical pillage.
Appearing Monday at the 9:30 club with Machine Head, Slipknot and Amen. To hear a free Sound Bite from Coal Chamber, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)