Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Epic Records
Location: Grayslake, IL
FFO: Seether, Deftones, Staind
Chevelle has been one of my favorite rock bands for as long as I can remember. They were at one point in time, the heaviest thing I knew - even before Slipknot. To this day I still love these guys. Admittedly though, I haven’t given them a real solid listen in a little while, only enjoying songs if they popped up on a shuffle. So I gave their last couple records a listen in preparation for this, to remind myself how they’ve grown in the later years. I can’t lie, they have always remained really good. Of course I like some songs or albums more than others, but every release is true to them. They just know how to put together a really good hard rock album while bringing something a little new each time. Spoiler alert: this album continues that consistency.
The production is as I always like it from them. A great mix and tone, but not too clean. Always gotta keep some dirt in there. We can’t be having clear cut hard rock albums. It doesn’t work.
As I had mentioned, my eyes and ears weren’t fixated on Chevelle for a minute, so I was happily surprised when I first found out a single was released. Well turned out there were 2 that came out before I even noticed. Both, truly shocked me. It’s kind of sad to say, but I honestly had expected a band of their genre and age to sort of… I don’t know, give up? Not stop making music necessarily, but not really put in the effort it seems Chevelle has done here. Oftentimes a seasoned rock band these days will release a bland repeat of older hits. However, that could not be less true of this album and this band. They refuse to put out “just another record”. Even after all these years, the desire to write something new and good is clearly still burning inside of them. So these singles got me very excited.
This is gonna have to just be one of those reviews I say earlier rather than later: This album is sick. There’s a good amount of Tool and Deftones sounding riffs and energy in these songs while still being themselves, which I love, but it also makes sense since Chevelle came up around that same time. If that statement doesn’t say it enough, I’ll go ahead and directly mention that this album is just as hard as they’ve ever been, if not more-so on certain tracks. Chevelle is not softening up or running out of ideas here. Right from the beginning, Chevelle crushes us with an instrumental track. Obviously bands have intro songs a lot, but this is a full 3 ½ minute instrumental song to intro the album topped off by some double bass madness to say ‘Hi, we are back”. If this track does not get you pumped for the next 45 minutes, just turn off the album.
The pacing is impeccable. Never for a second do the longer tracks at 4-5+ minutes seem that long. I think that’s of course due to enough switch ups, but I also give credit to the performance itself, along with the mixing of said performance. No song highlights one instrument for too long. If they aren’t all at the forefront, the guitar is taking on a sweet, wavy lead. The drums are slamming away. The bass is swallowing you. Everyone gets highlighted multiple times throughout the record. Then when they all come together the other half of the time, it’s not too much. It’s not just a bland wall of sound. It’s a hard hitting, groovy, beautiful construction of music. Even the rather repetitive yet catchy riff on ‘Self Destructor’ for some reason just doesn’t get old and if anything, makes me love it more and more with each listen. The rhythms and as always, unique vocals, capture me more than Chevelle has in years, and that’s saying something because they haven’t released a disappointing record. Perhaps it’s because I don’t often hear a great rock album nowadays, but this truly hits differently.
I want to quickly touch on why I say “unique” vocals. I’ve always heard Pete’s voice as vastly different from others, almost how someone might talk about Chino from Deftones or David from Disturbed. I think Pete has a very stand-out, recognizable voice that offers something different when delivering his lyrics. It’s that distinctive voice that shines in this album's acoustic song “Endlessly”. It reminds me of other tracks like this the band has done in the past. A similar structure in the instrumental tone of the whole thing while Pete sways his voice across the chords.
I’m not grabbing too many song specific examples in this review because I think they all accomplish everything I’ve mentioned. I can’t pick a favorite because they all are absolutely sensational for different, and at times, similar reasons. However I want to say that the ending track “Lost in Digital Woods” gave me goosebumps. It’s a one heck of an ending.
I think it’s also worth mentioning this is actually their longest project yet. Chevelle has always delivered on good length albums, but this just passes all the rest by a good 5-10 minutes.
I can guarantee I won’t possibly be getting enough of this album in the coming future. The replay value is near priceless. I am very close to saying this might be their best album yet. I don’t have enough confidence to make that claim but I can without a doubt say this is up there, for sure. Especially being so late in their career, it makes me very happy these guys still have the desire and know-all to create a crushing body of work. So what’s stopping me from putting this at a 10? I can’t quite say, I sort of just have to really feel a 10. Although I love this album, a 10 represents something extra special to me.
There’s not a second of this record that I could stop moving my head or body. Every transition into the next section of a song or between songs caused me to fall more in love with this LP. Niratias is another one for the books that I will be jamming for some time. Well done to my hometown boys.
Strongest Song: Yes
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/chevelle/519486