Review Summary: A revitalizing breath of fresh air that renews their trademark sound and song-writing quality.
God only knows what transpired within Chevelle between the release of the merely "good" 2007 album "Vena Sera" and the elaborate 2009 release "Sci-fi Crimes" but whatever it was only aided the band extensively in producing their best record since 2002's "Wonder What's Next."
During 2002, Chevelle posessed a new sound that hadn't been utilized by bands supposedly in the same genre nearly as well as they had. In addition to this, Chevelle seemed to write strong songs effortlessly with this style, and managed to keep fans thoroughly entertained during the "Wonder What's Next" era. Further down the road however, it seemed Chevelle were only a one trick pony, relying on singles like "Vitamin R" and "I Get It" to carry them through the lackluster period that engulfed the release of the albums "This Type of Thinking.." and "Vena Sera." It seemed these guys were only good for buying their singles on Itunes, and that they were now doomed to be an average-quality nu-metal band, with little to offer anymore.
Surely many fans and ex-fans were caught off-guard with the relase of "Sci-fi Crimes", as it completely re-works Chevelle's song-writing structure, and the path of motivation the group derives their inspiration through. These new features bring a strong sense of freshness back to their music. Pete Loeffler has also decided to take a concept-album route, basing his lyrics on paranormal activities, perceptions of space, apparitions, and the rapid-paced decaying of society.
While Loeffler's lyrics are at times, overly personal and only barely relevant, his take on the public world, society, and politics are of higher quality than the typical bloke who strives for gaining attention and support for their views and morals. This is due to his personal twist on the subject-matter that strays from placing Loeffler on a pedestal and works more toward showing what a regular person would see and feel in the given circumstances. Thus, his choice to discuss such topics is almost a pioneering effort to re-approach these issues and is quite bold.
On to the music, Sci-Fi Crimes is jam packed with masterful songwriting that can't help but be shocking, considering its superiority over the clunkiness and mediocrity that plagued the majorities of "This Type of Thinking" and "Vena Sera." Where those records are held together by bland/barely-accessible riffs and melodies, Sci-Fi Crimes is built on addictive and complex main riffs as well as rhythms and pacing unique to each song on the record.
From the opener "Sleep Apnea" it is immediately apparent that Chevelle is recharged and refueled for churning out fresh ideas once again that recapture the energy of "Wonder What's Next," but with a more mature and surreal attitude. Loeffler's vocals are superb throughout the record. Whether he decided it's time for a change, or was simply engulfed with inspiration, he only sees success with his ballsy use of falsettos, high notes, and odd pacing to reciting his lyrics. He easily turns every chorus into a singalong that will undoubtedly be stuck in one's head for a week or longer.
The album's singles "Jars," "Shameful Metaphors," and "Letter From a Thief," are all incredibly strong on their own, but do not represent the uncharted territory that the rest of the album explores. "Fell Into Your Shoes" mixes sweet but low and slow guitar riffs with much bouncier and energetic riffs during the verse, all while Loeffler's singing soars high above with credit going to his newly mastered falsetto talents.
"Sleep Apnea" and "Mexican Sun" both play on achieving the same goal as Chevelle's other works, to pummel you while soothing you simultaneously, but it's done with the bands newfound arsenal of song-writing weaponry.
These tracks and the album's singles will most likely earn a memorable spot in a listener's head, but the album's closing moments best execute the new plans Chevelle has for their own music. "This New Momentum" is probably the heaviest track on the album, and couldn't have a catchier main riff, that bludgeons with badassery and a tough-guy attitude. "This Circus" thrives on a simple yet elegant centerpiece melody, but the package comes with much more. The chorus riff floods the speakers and soundwaves with ear-bleeding guitars carrying a sugar-sweet melody. The outro to the song is one of the best moments a listener will experience from listening to Chevelle, as it cycles the song's addicting main riff, accompanied by the echo of a catchy guitar motif until it all stops to let one final ring of the notes close the album, giving the listener time to reflect on the clearly astounding experience they just endured.
Chevelle's Sci-Fi Crimes is easily as good as, if not better than their original epic "Wonder What's Next," with it's curious ideas, cool attitude, and astonishing musicianship, the album manages to put Chevelle back into the kingdom of relevance, at one of the highest seats.