hats off to the bull

January 28, 2012

So Chevelle has come out with a new album, and I started listening to it only just recently.

The thing about Chevelle is that, IMO, they have lots of potential. If a band as “art-rock” & prog as Muse can explode into worldwide popularity, then so can Chevelle. Unfortunately, after their second album (2002’s alt-metal helmet-esque Wonder Whats Next), Chevelle has only decreased in popularity and exposure. Not entirely without reason ofcourse. They really did start to lose their way: 2004/5’s This Type of Thinking was just typical, amped-up modern rock. 2007’s Vena Sera was very interesting – it was amped-up music indeed, but refreshingly quick-paced, with somewhat fuzzy guitars, and shouted-but-not-screamed vocals. 2009’s Sci-Fi Crimes showed promise on the outset, with that fantastic album cover painting, the unexpected album idea, and the first single being another heavy-rocker but with another step further in ‘sound’ (mainly the different snares and the guitar tone change). It too, however, fell in value too quickly for me. Seemed like these guys just couldn’t re-produce (or use as a base) the magic of their garage-rock initial years + 1st album (Point # 1), and/or the clean-cut metal approach of thier 2nd album (WWN).

So, what now?

Well, the good first:

1. Pete Loeffler’s vocals are a highlight of Chevelle now. The man sings so melodically, its a treat to hear him go out of his usual paths – listen to the ending section of “Face to the Floor” where he sings on top of the chorus. Or check out out the two acoustic tracks, “Prima Donna” and “Indifference”.

2. The acoustic tracks are great this time around, partly due to Pete’s vocals. The other reason is that they’re not completely bare-bones acoustic. There is a synth around the end of Prima Donna, and atmospheric backing vocals in “Indifference”.

3. More guitar layering. This is a good thing because they’re just another modern hard rock band without it. They really should resort to a fourth member live, however. I cannot see just the  three of them doing justice to this album – its not fun to continuously hear the rhythm guitar only. And lead guitar without rhythm also has a short life. Then there’s the task of singing on top of all the playing.

Cons:

1. As usual, not enough evolution. The fact they they’re still churning out standard songs like “Clones” and “Face to the Floor” is disappointing. Six albums, 12+ years and they’re still evolving only in baby steps with each album.

2. Number 1 again.

3. Number 1 again.

-> Essentially, few songs are completely refreshing. Right now, I’m enjoying only 2-3 songs from the album, maybe 4 even, but thats it. The Chevelle of old blew my mind away twice, made me enjoy each of the first two albums for months. It didn’t happen with any of the subsequent albums. I don’t expect it to happen with this one either.

There is just so much there to do that they could do but they choose not to. Like, get a permanent fourth member. Get the hell out of that thick, distorted bass tone already. Put in electronic elements. Maybe let Dean (the bassist) sing a couple songs in whole. Or maybe get him to be the permanent backing vocalist rather than Pete doing that himself. Switch the drumkit, throw that stupid, typical snare sound away. Some actual, difficult solos in a few songs per album. Instrumental songs – maybe like “Interlewd”, only lengthier. Lengthy instrumental sections ala the end of “An Evening with El Diablo”. Making fast, furious 2 minute songs. Making lengthy 7 minute songs.

 

 

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