Sound — 10
With this album, Coal Chamber have gone above and beyond any previous effort and ascended to a level above any of their contemporaries. This is an outstanding metal album. From the opening track (and first single) "Fiend", to the last one, "Beckoned", this is pure, unfiltered intensity. The band have been perfecting a raw, apocalyptic sound throughout their existence, and this album defines all such efforts. The best examples of this unforgiving heaviness are the title track, "Empty Jar", and "Friend?", mixing in every element of classic Coal Chamber, while completely overshadowing anything they've ever put out before. Fans of the band rejoice: Coal Chamber has outdone itself. Guitarist Miguel "Meegs" Rascon is an absolute genius at taking simple, heavy riffs and making them groove. Even though his riffs are rudimentary, they hold an incredible amount of depth and intensity (see: "Big Truck", "Oddity", "El Cu Cuy", "Feed My Dreams", and now "Drove" and "Alienate Me". He has also been dabbling in various ambient effects (most notably on CC's previous album "Chamber Music), and he brings those into serious play on this record. Tracks like "Glow" and "Rowboat" are excellent examples of this. But, without a doubt, the most arresting aspect of this album is its unbelieveable heaviness. The guitars absolutely bleed heavy. Dez's voice is well-suited for this kind of music and it is allowed to shine through on this record more than any other. Here, he is not forced to sing, but relies predominantly on his aggressive, full-throated growl and almost spoken-word tirades. The rhythm section of this band is as it has always been: simple and-in your-face, sharing a common thread with the rudimentary guitar playing. Through and through, this is one of the best metal albums produced since Korn's debut nearly ten years ago. In my opinion, it will go down as one of the best in metal history.
Lyrics — 6
In my opinion, the best thing about Coal Chamber is their music. The lyrics have always left something to be desired. On "Dark Days", Dez has obviously progressed as a songwriter. While they are not, by any means, to be compared with lyrical gods like Trent Reznor, Maynard James Keenan, Chad Grey, or Marilyn Manson (though I don't agree with a collective half of their subjects!), they are better than anything Dez Fafara has written before.
Overall Impression — 10
As I said before, "Dark Days" is one of the best metal albums ever produced by any band and could be considered by some to be the best album of modern metal. I place it on a level equal with Korn's debut, Slipknot's debut, Deftones' "White Pony", or Tool's "Lateralus" in terms of the perfection of their particular flavor of metal. In a historical sense, it will/should be compared to G n R's "Appetite for Destruction", Metallica's "Master of Puppets" or Slayer's "Reign in Blood". I know this will sound like heresy for a lot of people, but I speak in a purely historical sense. Ten or fifteen years from now, the metal masses should look upon "Dark Days" as they do these albums now. I certainly will.