Review Summary: The new tricks this old dog learned in 2009 haven't been forgotten..
2009's "Sci-Fi Crimes" couldn't have come to accomplish the feats that it did at a better time in the world of music. 2009 and 2010 were among the final years of the dissipating nu-metal landscape, where many bands changed up what genre they were, or fell off of the map completely. Dub-Step and House had officially swallowed the scene by 2011, and what better band than Chevelle to head the continuation of solid hard-rock, free of heavy electronics and sampling? On their sixth studio release, "Hats Off To The Bull" they remain true to what caused their success on "Sci-Fi Crimes" but it's almost easier for them now, with much of the competition dying out or becoming irrelevant.
Things are considerably softer this time around, and that is perfectly fine since Chevelle would often tread into that territory on just about every album they have recorded. And while things are softer, they aren't THAT much softer, there's just nothing as hard-hitting as "This New Momentum" or "The Fad." Songs only get as heavy as "Face to The Floor" and the title track, which effectively deliver the needed dose of Chevelle's low-note intensity. The rest of the album however, rolls a little more slowly with emphasis on layered guitars and Loeffler's best vocal work. "Same Old Trip" offers up a relatively strong main riff and inspired chorus-singing. "Ruse" flows on a loose rhythm and an even looser guitar melody, all tied together with a bouncy center-stage bass-line. "The Meddler" is among the best cuts from the album, sporting an irresistibly curious main riff and a passionate chorus tagged to beautiful Loeffler-singing and layers on layers of loud arena guitars.
"Envy" an initially soft song, grows with a listener's patience into a mammoth of beauty and stellar guitar work, a worthy pay-off. "Arise" specializes in fueling one with positive energy thanks to its uplifting melodies, and "Prima Donna" the quiet acoustic cut, proves graceful in its easily relative Loeffler lyrics.
There's really nothing on here that comes out average except for "Pinata" and "Revenge," two tracks that feel out of place based on their redundancy and tiresome song structures. But other than that, there is much to look forward to on this 2011 outing that assures fans Chevelle now knows how to continue crafting successful records while their former opponents are fading into the shadows that are covering this genre of music