Review Summary: With the exception of a few stellar songs, it falls short of expectations and unfortunately feels like a missed opportunity for the band to realize their full potential.
Chevelle fill an interesting niche in popular alternative rock music; while they enjoy a moderate level of success, they have not allowed that level of success to force them to gravitate towards putting out the same recycled drivel that most of their peers do. Though that may be the case, that in itself does not mean that they are by any means experimental with their sound. They simply deviate a small amount from the constants of their formula to create slightly different-sounding albums. It’s simply what’s expected of them at this point in time, and there honestly is no reason for them to do anything differently. They have progressed steadily from album to album, with each being better than its predecessor. Vena Sera was an immense step forward from This Type of Thinking, adopting a slightly more aggressive tone in the songwriting and benefitting quite a bit from the presence of more apt bassist Dean Bernadini. Sci-Fi Crimes sees Chevelle making a similar leap, albeit in a different direction. Pete Loeffler, vocalist/guitarist of the trio mutes his screams and focuses on creating a much more vocally diverse, melodic record. This is Chevelle at their undeniably most mature with them even churning out a strong acoustic track (“Highland’s Apparition”), something that has eluded them for years. Loeffler masterfully uses his enigmatic vocals to match the equally confounding lyrical subject matter on Sci-Fi Crimes, this time focusing on subject matters such as UFOs and the paranormal.
“Sleep Apnea” starts the album off with thunderous double bass, something that hasn’t been very prevalent in past albums; other than that, this song unfortunately just doesn’t do anything new. It doesn’t go anywhere exciting or explore any new avenues of sound, and that honestly is the downfall of Sci-Fi Crimes in general. There aren’t too many fans of Chevelle expecting them to re-invent the wheel at this point, but the most frustrating aspect of that is the fact that they show so much promise on the stronger songs of this album. “Shameful Metaphors” starts off as an unassuming mid-paced track that morphs into one of the best in their discography when it hits the incredibly strong chorus. Loeffler does not trip over his generally cryptic use of words and ends up creating a very transparent, emotionally relatable song. “Fell Into Your Shoes” plays with an ethereal guitar line that explodes at the perfect moments into a muscular riff while Loeffler employs a falsetto that keeps it vocally interesting as well. One could certainly give credit where it is due in terms of what Chevelle have accomplished here; instead of gravitating towards writing the same song ten to twelve times and calling it a day, they went outside their comfort zone and created a few gems that will give listeners a more rewarding and varied album.
Alternative rock is a tricky thing; it is a genre tag that reeks of staleness and repetition. Trapt becomes Three Days Grace becomes Breaking Benjamin, and at the end of the day they all start to bleed into one another seamlessly. Chevelle have thus far successfully avoided being lumped in with bands of that caliber, but that is truly only half the battle. Their safe songwriting is slowly leading them down the path of anonymity, and fans that were expecting a huge leap forward will surely be disappointed with the final product. With the exception of a few stellar songs, it falls short of expectations and unfortunately feels like a missed opportunity for the band to realize their full potential.
So...many...reviews of this. I know, I know. But I am still working on my writing style, and I wanted to write about an album that I thought was good but still disappointed me. Constructive criticism if you guys see anything worded strangely.
"Trapt becomes Three Days Grace becomes Breaking Benjamin, and at the end of the day they all start to bleed into one another seamlessly."
I enjoyed this line, lol. Very nice review. You sum up the band and their career up to this point very well. Sometimes I think they should just give up the acoustic songs all together. I don't think I have really liked any of them.
I love New Momentum and Letter From A Thief from this.
Thanks, Ec. The frustrating thing about most of the acoustic songs sucking so bad is that I feel like Pete's vocals are complemented very well by an acoustic guitar. There is just always an awkward verse or chorus.
Yeah, he has a pretty versatile voice. They just can't seem to figure out how to transfer from electric to acoustic.
I've always wanted them to go a bit heavier than they tend to stick with, at least with the vocals. He has a great scream, but I don't think he has ever really let loose on a song. He kind of does on Grab Thy Hand and Don't Fake This from their debut, but he mostly just does it on the tail end of his vocal lines or as a transitioning period from one section to another.
I have always liked Chevelle, but they have never really wowed me with an entire album. They tend to have some really great songs that are always put with some not so great songs. WWN and Vena Sera are their best imo. I at least like every song on both of them except for the crappy acoustic track at the end of WWN.
I wasn't that fond of it. It really seemed like they were just going through the motions on that album. I tried for a couple of weeks when I first got it and just didn't find it all that appealing except for the title track and Face To The Floor though. I have been meaning to give it another shot as of late, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
I also really like This Type Of Thinking... but it has a couple of stinkers on it like this one does. But the highlights of Thinking are pretty great which makes me like it more than Sci Fi.
agreed with This Type... the first of that album had me believing it was going to be their best, but after the middle of the record, it keeps losing momentum (also, I usually disagree with the statement with these guys sounding like a Tool rip-off, but the song To Return from that album definitely takes a lot from them)
Really nice review, even though I don't entirely agree with it. I think this is Chevelle's best album. "Roswell's Spell" and "This Circus" kick ass. Can't stand "Shameful Metaphors", although the intro is pretty cool.