This is an album I have been looking forward to since their live album release hit the stores. Chevelle is a Chicago based band. I have been listening to them since their first release, “Point #1”. My fondness was cemented the day I read they named the band for their dad’s favorite automobile. I am also a Chevy fan. Chevelle was first introduced to the market under Squint Entertainment, a Christian record label which created quite a controversy for them. They may have finally moved beyond the label of Christian band to a band who is serious about their faith. I am not sure what that means specifically but on to the album review. A couple of aspects of the band that attracted me to Chevelle are; they write their own music, and they are a three piece band. They have been compared to other bands like Tool, and Helmet, but I got into Chevelle long before I heard any music from those other bands. In my estimation there is only a slight resemblance in sound and style. Some music critics have described Chevelle in such terms as “a kind of controlled chaos, a beautiful darkness, a gentle rampage of aural velocity”. I will agree with that description. In my own experience of listening to their music and seeing them live I would describe their music as melodic restrained chaos. This pattern holds in their latest project titled “Hats Off To The Bull“.
The album begins with “Face To The Floor”. A heavy melodic groove that starts the Chevelle motor just fine. This track was first leaked to radio back in September of this year and is getting some nice airplay on rock and college radio stations. In an interview earlier this year, drummer Sam Loeffler, stated that the song is about the Ponzi scheme stuff going on in some corporations today. Next up is “Same Old Trip”. The song is typical Chevelle and yet not with some cool backing vocals mixed in during the chorus. “Ruse” is up next, and it reminds me of some of the pieces from their “Wonder What’s Next” album, one of my favorite Chevelle albums. The “Meddler” has many layers to it. It has some very cool guitar vibrato which makes the song almost atmospheric. “Pinata” is a quick paced song reminiscent of “Mia” from their “Point #1” album, and yet contains an almost clean rock sound mixed in, and some rare lead guitar work.
The whole album has some features very reminiscent of some of their earlier and heavier albums, and yet several of them have a blend of layers not heard from the Chevelle boys at all. Some my favorite tracks include “Face To The Floor”, “The Meddler”, love the guitar riff in “Pinata”, the title track “Hats Off To The Bull”. “Hats Off” is the heaviest song on the album. This description was taken from my bride when asked to listen to this, my favorite song. To quote “that is really heavy!!”. The song has a great driving rhythm from the drums and bass throughout, but when Pete’s distorted guitar charges in, synced with his soaring vocals, the song is totally elevated to an unmatched crescendo. This climax occurs at the chorus. “Arise” is an excellent “do it your own way” in the typical Chevelle form, and “Clones” is a wonderful Chevelle styled rock blast replete with clean guitar moving to distorted guitar that is a Chevelle trademark. The same individualistic theme can be seen in the lyrics in this song as well.
You’re just a clone of them.
Have you no way to set a fire.
You’re just a clone of them.
The Devil’s in the ways we live.
“Hats Off” is going to be one of my favorite Chevelle albums, and might one day dethrone “Wonder What’s Next” from it’s lofty Chevelle perch on my Marshall stack. After having cycled through the album three times now, the “Bull” is definitely making it’s charge.
And on my return to music reviews I give this new Chevelle album 5 Flying V guitars out of 5. Go figure, right?
Check out this “Face To The Floor” performance from Jimmy Kimmel Live.