Review Summary: Whilst not their magnum opus, what we all thought it was at first listen, Sci-Fi Crimes is a very solid hard rock album. Being Chevelle, though, it has its low points.
Sci-Fi Crimes was a very anticipated album for me. I had been a fan of Chevelle since not long after the release of Wonder What's Next, and I had patiently followed them all along. Vena Sera had been different for me, because at first listen, I did not like it much. However, after having some time to adjust, I learned to love it. I told myself that if I didn't like Sci-Fi Crimes, I would bear through it and it would grow on me.
Hearing my first glimpse of the album (streaming Jars on YouTube while at a cabin with dial-up internet), I was very impressed. Jars was a catchy hard rock tune which I could easily see on radio. A month or two later, I heard my second glimpse, This Circus, which to this day is one of my favorites on the album. The deep, grimy guitar riffs with the epic chorus really caught me here. It was not until that fall when I was able to stream the full album on YouTube and get the full effect of it. At first listen, I thought it was amazing. But, like with most things, the amazement wore off after a while and I was able to accurately judge the meat of the album.
I am a fan of slow, brooding openings, but I was perfectly fine with Chevelle using Sleep Apnea to open the album. It is by no stretch a bad song, and it sets the aggressive mood for the rest of the disc. Following this, the album moves in a linear path to the end, song after song, this time actually stopping for air in a few spots, unlike Vena Sera, which was just a tad too overkill for my tastes - with no clear soft spots to be seen. The addition of an acoustic song was a good idea, although Highland's Apparition is certainly not the best acoustic tune I have hear Chevelle crank out. Fell Into Your Shoes, while not-so-appreciated by many, is one of the highlights in my opinion. In is vastly different from the style of music which Chevelle normally does, and hey - it has a solo. That's a change.
The guitar riffs are very catchy, and while I will not go out on a limb to say Pete is an amazing guitarist, I think most cannot deny he has a great voice. This truly shines on songs such as Letter From a Thief, Highland's Apparition, and the should-be-but-never-will-be a single, Shameful Metaphors.
The main drawback with this album, is that it is hard to just think of one song as an individual idea. This can be considered good, in that the album blends into itself to create one full idea. The only issue is that nothing really stands out too much. With their older work, I would easily go to play just one single song here or there, but here it is a bit different - it feels strange to listen to just one song off this album. In essence, I just don't feel connected to this album when not listening to it. Good or bad, it is a different feeling.
At the end of the day, Chevelle has not disappointed. Sci-Fi Crimes is a solid effort, with a driving and aggressive atmosphere that will make you gasp for air and need to take a breather, and luckily they give you time for one with the acoustic song, and the (somewhat meaningless) Interlewd (Hah - good one, guys). It is not their magnum opus, and does not quite compare to their older work, (in fact, it almost feels different than Chevelle used to be), but it will not disappoint most.
-Fell Into Your Shoes