Chevelle
Hats Off to the Bull


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Carlson USER (50 Reviews)
December 2nd, 2011 | 98 replies | 8,745 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chevelle's superb return to their roots abandons goofy lyrics and experimental compositions in favor of what made them so great to begin with.

16 of 17 thought this review was well written

Chevelle are a band that no matter how much they try to say that they’re evolving, they never seem to. While that may be a horrible thing in some cases, Chevelle embrace their craft. They remain some of the heaviest, but most radio-friendly bands in alternative rock today. However, they do try to evolve. Their previous three albums were decent attempts at changing their own status quo, but even the great Sci-fi Crimes seemed to ignore what made the band so iconic among the radio rock circuit: their force. Chevelle are a band that feels organic and honed where other bands feel stagnant and dragged down. It’s the heaviness that fuels Chevelle.

It becomes very apparent very early that Chevelle want to revitalize their sound back to the heaviness of Wonder What’s Next instead of reaching for the bizarre middle-ground found in Vena Sera and Sci-Fi Crimes, where pop influences and alternative rock chart supremacy seemed to infect what they do best. In irony, Chevelle was able to return to the success seen in Wonder What’s Next not by changing their sound drastically, but by digging in and returning to their roots.

The band’s crunchy, grinding guitar work has been noticeably absent for the last few albums, but very much like the band’s Wonder What Next album, Hats Off to the Bull has plenty of heavy guitar sounds especially in the band’s chart-topping single “Face to the Floor.” But despite the song’s weighted tempo, the band doesn’t seem to be dragging its feet. The songs on Hats Off to the Bull feel like they have gravity, a thickness that feels less artificial and much more organic for a band that have rushed rock radio without holding back. Chevelle has broken the chains that have hindered some of their past albums, finally reaching a fist-to-face intensity that disappeared sometime after Wonder What’s Next was released.

Pete Loeffler still has a surreal infatuation with the vocal work of Tool and A Perfect Circle’s Maynard James Keenan, constantly jumping from a guttural belt-out yell to a suffocating whisper multiple times throughout the album. Pete Loeffler’s voice also balances the yelling and singing in ways seen by Deftones’ Chino Moreno, albeit in a much more in-your-face way. As a vocalist, Pete Loeffler has a very distinctive aura about his singing. His inability to focus on singing or yelling exclusively tends to benefit him more than it would any other vocalist in alternative rock these days. The title track of the album is a fantastic mix of Pete Loeffler’s manipulative nature of the typical vocalist. He just makes it sound so damn easy as he makes yells feel spot-on amongst a hypnotic singing style. “The Meddler” is one of the best on the album. Its siren-like guitar climbs are backed by a powerful stomp of a beat, with Sam Loeffler keep the pace with a colossal motion and some of the most pounding drumlines ever heard in the band’s extensive catalog.

But Hats Off to the Bull doesn’t skip on some lighter notes in between the gnashing and tearing musical compositions. “Pinata” lets up on the heaviness as Pete’s voice takes center stage with more fluid guitars, but erupts into a nimbler pace seen in past songs like Vena Sera’s “Brainiac.” “Arise” is ascendant, a song that climbs higher and higher, something that the rest of the album doesn’t do in favor of weight and force, but ultimately descends in a saddening fall. It’s a fantastic track that paints a picture just as much as it rocks hard.

The Loeffler brothers and their brother-in-law Dean Bernardini don’t show the playfulness of Sci-fi Crimes in Hats Off to the Bull. Sci-fi Crimes’ masterful mix of tongue-in-cheek lyrics with alternative rock radio accessibility was a unique turn for the band, but you won’t find alien references or environmental in-jokes on Hats Off to the Bull. It’s a contained, but angry aesthetic that works incredibly well, especially for a band who aims to recapture the built-up fury heard in songs like “The Red.” “Envy” has sadness and sorrow usurping the grinding anger’s throne, an odd choice for the band, but still feels apropos to the overall sense of emotive energy that Hats Off to the Bull brings. What makes the lyrical content in Hats Off to the Bull so poignant is that they’ve made anger beautiful. They’ve made the crunch of guitars and fissure strikes of drum beats into something portrait-esque and well worth listening to.

If there was one issue with Hats Off to the Bull, it’d be the few times that the guys deviate from their new (or old) focus. It’s almost surreal to think that this album was originally teased as an all-acoustic album, but the song “Prima Donna”, while a staple to Chevelle’s template of including an acoustic song on each album, doesn’t fit in at all amongst the fury of the rest of the album. The composition itself isn’t anything to write home about either, since it mostly sits on a pace that harkens to mainstream rock more than Chevelle’s trademark vision.

Chevelle are a band that has gone through some odd phases. They’ve phoned it in a bit too much more than preferred in their overall discography, but they hit a clever equilibrium with Sci-fi Crimes. Hats Off to the Bull isn’t an album without faults, but for a band who has always been the poster child of anti-experimentation and sticking to their guns, it really does feel like the trio is after that perfect storm that Wonder What’s Next brought out. After five albums and a ton of touring of the alternative rock concert circuit, Chevelle had appeared to have lost their focus. Hats Off to the Bull is a wakeup call, one that doesn’t do much new, but brings back why the band has been so memorable over the years. Those who really enjoyed Sci-fi Crimes’ goofy subject matter and slightly experimental compositions may be put off a bit at the straight-ahead approach that Chevelle are pitching again with Hats Off to the Bull, but to those who grew up with Pete’s crooning and heavy, heavy tones will find their sixth studio album to be a fine throwback to one of modern radio rock’s most iconic groups.



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user ratings (643)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
BenedictVII
December 2nd 2011



369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How is Hat's off to the bull not a goofy lyric?

Digging: the Soil & the Sun - Meridian

BenedictVII
December 2nd 2011



369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review though, take a pos.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 2nd 2011



10592 Comments


You got a stream with this?


Emim
December 2nd 2011



26604 Comments


Unless this is streaming now, you'd better save the review.

Scoot
December 2nd 2011



17724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

this'll get taken down unless there's an official stream

make sure you have a copy saved

album is pretty good but as per usual they can't make a consistent album

PostMesmeric
December 2nd 2011



359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There is an official stream given by Chevelle on their Facebook page:

http://loudwire.com/chevelle-hats-off-to-the-bull-exclusive-full-album-stream/

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 2nd 2011



10592 Comments


That's fine, just make sure that you post it in this thread, preferably edit it into your first comment.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 2nd 2011



10592 Comments


http://loudwire.com/chevelle-hats-off-to-the-bull-exclusive-full-album-stream/

greg84
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2011



7351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Great review. Have a pos. I'm not really convinced by this album (yet).

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

fromtheinside
December 2nd 2011



17999 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

ugh too much talk of sci fi crimes

Digging: Transcending Bizarre? - The Serpent's Manifolds

bloc
December 2nd 2011



34752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Awesome album

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

BigHans
December 2nd 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

SO SEND THE PAIN BELOW

JUST LIKE SUFFOCATING!

oh

fromtheinside
December 2nd 2011



17999 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

much like suffocating

Scoot
December 2nd 2011



17724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

bridge on that song brings the juns

Gmork89
December 2nd 2011



5510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Really want to hear this, I was losing interest in these guys with the strangeness of recent albums so this might awaken the dormant love.

BigHans
December 2nd 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

SO LAY DOWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

THE THREAT IS REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

TheVoiceAndTheSnake
December 2nd 2011



3663 Comments


"album is pretty good but as per usual they can't make a consistent album"

I thought the consistency was fine

greg84
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2011



7351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I don't like it as much as their previous stuff. It sounds sort of watered down.

happyeskimo
December 2nd 2011



18 Comments


Loving this album. The meddler is probably the highlight.

Emim
December 2nd 2011



26604 Comments


Really looking forward to this. Waiting for the actual release though.



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