Chevelle
La Gargola


3.5
great

Review

by Alex Carlson USER (50 Reviews)
March 26th, 2014 | 482 replies


Release Date: 04/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Without a doubt, this is the most un-Chevelle Chevelle album released yet.

Chevelle were always that bizarre outsider on radio rock. They were never a post-grunge band like their tourmates Seether or Nickelback, nor were they heavy, straight-ahead rock like Halestorm or Disturbed. They were so heavy, but still had a radio appeal, allowing them to share tours with everyone from Filter to Evanescence. I still have trouble finding out where Chevelle belong in the spectrum of rock and metal, because they could be placed almost anywhere. The group’s groovy rhythms could net them places alongside classic nu-metal like Deftones, while Pete Loeffler’s singing style in the vein of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan could let them stand alongside the heavier metal crowd. The group’s seventh album La Gargola doesn’t make this any easier. It is without a doubt the hardest to classify yet, all for one big reason: this is the most un-Chevelle Chevelle album released yet.

Chevelle’s bread-and-butter has always been the heavy and grinding metal rhythms, and those haven’t been forgotten in the least. These Chicago metalheads haven’t softened their bones at all, as La Gargola contains just as much pounding thunder as their previous LP, 2011’s Hats Off to the Bull. The album bursts forward right from the get-go with a blistering hit from opener “Ouija Board” and keeps that intensity going throughout with the weighted beats of the two initial singles, the radio pleaser “Take Out the Gunman” and the slightly more technical “Hunter Eats Hunter.” “Choking Game” tears a page right from the Wonder What’s Next book, with an infectious, riff-heavy guitar line, while “Under the Knife” is strongly reminiscent of anything from Vena Sera. Chevelle have always differentiated themselves from their radio rock peers with their metal sound, dwarfing the furiousness from anything ever brought about by Seether or Breaking Benjamin. That’s been their calling card from Day 1 and it’s still pretty damn honed.

But while Hats Off to the Bull was an embrace of Chevelle’s most core essence, their heaviness, La Gargola adds small subtle bits of difference, brief snippets of creativity scattered about the tracklist. One standout track, “One Ocean”, possesses toned, peaceful guitars and steady percussion, with Pete Loeffler crooning atop them. In stark comparison to the formerly traditional acoustic track like Wonder What’s Next’s “One Lonely Visitor” or Sci-fi Crimes’ “Highland’s Apparition”, “One Ocean” is dreamy, atmospheric, and brilliantly simmery, with more comparison to Saturday Night Wrist-era Deftones than Chevelle’s more traditional influence, Tool. The group also creates melodic background melodies in the form of a shadowed solo on “Jawbreaker” and a tweaked-out guitar intro to “An Island.” The instrumentals never shed their empowered impact, but these subtle moments of texture end up making the music on La Gargola sound very experimental for the group, but nothing too radio rock poppy to limit the metal appeal.

Pete Loeffler’s vocals, despite still following his dedicated Maynard Way, don’t rely on minor crooning anymore either. The serenity of “One Ocean” and the surprisingly uplifting call in follower “Choking Game” possess all the intensity of past Chevelle, but rarely sound as aggressive or weighted as something heard on Hats Off to the Bull. The closer “Twinge” is a very unique and overall fantastic track, significantly subdued and creepily equipped with echo effects and Loeffler’s staggered breaths of melody. One very apparent change, however, is the length of the songs. The average La Gargola track is somewhere between four and five minutes long (the lone exception “Under the Knife” lies just three seconds shy of four minutes). After the radio friendliness of Hats Off to the Bull, hearing lengthier tracks from Chevelle is a bit disorienting, as early listens might seem to drag on too much. Repeated listens, however, display the steady development of the more abstract back-melodies and some remarkably warped guitar compositions dancing behind Sam Loeffler’s steady drumbeats. The longer song times also give the guys more opportunities to mix around rhythms, giving La Gargola scope in addition to edge.

La Gargola sits between the poppier melodies of Sci-fi Crimes and the fist-to-face heaviness of Hats Off to the Bull, but from that placement comes a fascinating desire to twist and turn. And it’s not just “make the album more accessible” or “take the album back to its roots”: the kinds of sounds displayed in songs like “One Ocean” and “Twinge” are so alien to Chevelle’s discography that you’d assume the band’s influences were reset during the time between Hats Off to the Bull and now. But on the contrary: Chevelle haven’t given up on their heavy background. “Ouija Board”, “Jawbreaker” and “Under the Knife” are still fantastic examples of Chevelle’s trademark identity. But the moments where they add a jagged guitar behind a steady drum beat, play toned notes instead of rugged riffs, and make their songs more ethereal than demonic; those are the moments where La Gargola is the most fascinating. La Gargola is the most alternative of all of the albums in Chevelle’s discography, where neither radio friendliness nor heavy riffs take full control, leaving the door open for other influences to grow within the album’s tracklist. La Gargola is the work of a band that’s leaving their comfort zone; it’s what happens when Chevelle stops trying to only be Chevelle.



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user ratings (587)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2014


10203 Comments


dem artist tags

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

PostMesmeric
March 25th 2014


369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album streaming on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/station/idra.843481690?at=11l79x&ct=fgtl3o

Seriously, there were times when I was listening to this where I wasn't sure if this was Chevelle.

Scoot
March 25th 2014


17754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

band is consistent if anything

fromtheinside
March 25th 2014


18268 Comments


I don't know how I feel about it yet

There are moments of awesome like the first thirty second of Ouija board but other times it's hard to believe what I'm hearing is chevelle

Digging: Tragedy - Vengeance

sapient
March 25th 2014


2003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

My favorite from them yet, agree about the stepping outside their box

Digging: Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles

INTOTHE3LIGHT
March 25th 2014


14 Comments


Deftones as nu metal just doesnt sit right....and im not even a nu metal hater

silentstar
March 25th 2014


2253 Comments


if I liked sci-fi crimes, would I like this?

SnakeDelilah
March 25th 2014


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

please refrain from using the word hater on this website ok thanks bye

Digging: At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command

PostMesmeric
March 25th 2014


369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@silentstar

There are traces of Sci-fi Crimes in this, but I can't in confidence say that you would. Sci-fi Crimes was more radio-friendly. This isn't as much.

silentstar
March 25th 2014


2253 Comments


sweet, thanks! I like the sound of Take Out The Gunman, so I think I'll give this a shot. haven't listened to this type of music in a long time, so it'll probably be a nostalgia trip (or not! since you seem to be saying this doesn't even sound like chevelle at times)

Ecnalzen
March 25th 2014


6537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aw, damn, is this coming out next week? I may or may not be excited about this.

GreyShadow
March 25th 2014


463 Comments


first 2 tracks were great, listening to the rest now

PistolPete
March 25th 2014


3610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They're not really metal, they've always sat within the realm of hard rock and post-grunge. And I never really took HOTTB as a "fist-to-face heavy" album in comparison to their older stuff. It was probably the most melodic hard rock album they ever made.

But...the way you describe the songs sounds like it's gonna be right up this fan's alley, so have a pos as that was well-written. I'm always excited for new Chevelle!

Digging: Banks - Goddess

savaah
March 26th 2014


416 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This should have been posted as news.

PistolPete
March 26th 2014


3610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Man this sounds so friggin fresh and amazing on the first listen. I should probably hold off writing my review for a month or so since I'll just sound like an awe-struck fanboy.

FearThyEvil
March 26th 2014


12547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Am I the only one hearing constant click noises on "The Damned"?

JM18
March 26th 2014


207 Comments


please refrain from posting reviews on this website ok thanks bye

FearThyEvil
March 26th 2014


12547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what?

RogueNine
March 26th 2014


1281 Comments


So Chevelle finally broke away from their Chevelleishness...

PostMesmeric
March 26th 2014


369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@RogueNine

They're getting there. There's still plenty of classic Chevelle sound here, but there are a lot of
notable differences on this album.



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