Chevelle
La Gargola


4.0
excellent

Review

by fromtheinside USER (127 Reviews)
April 1st, 2014 | 46 replies | 3,963 views


Release Date: 04/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beneath all the loud make-up that’s been applied, a more methodical hand turns La Gargola’s gears. Below the low tuned guitars and stabilized drumming brims an atmosphere that elevates this release atop their discography

17 of 17 thought this review was well written

I won’t lie; I was quite ambivalent after hearing La Gargola. Chevelle have sat at a nervous middle ground for years now, balancing comparisons to Tool and then Breaking Benjamin; admittedly, one slip could land them in less than glorified waters. One could make the case that this is why they’ve played it so safe for most of their career, by churning out albums that fed fans nicely, but never altering their sound enough to signify a real evolution. La Gargola’s predecessor Hats Off to the Bull was the first warning sign of anything hindering this machine of a band, ultimately stacking a difficult deck of questions and doubts as to whether Chevelle were deserving of any praise in the first place. The joke has always been “Chevelle being Chevelle again,” and despite how strong of an argument that may be, it’s never mentioned how it’s not necessarily a bad thing, or even completely true, but ignoring this argument causes the biggest concern. This type of thinking led to a numbness to Chevelle for me. My biggest concern going into La Gargola was simply whether I’d even be able to appreciate it for what it is.

One of my fondest childhood memories is my first trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Those who’ve been can attest to how much of a shithole it is, but through my youthful eyes it stirred a sense of wonder - there was so much “fun” in one place. This is how I wanted to feel toward La Gargola. I wanted that euphoria you get from listening to a new album wash over the rest left to history, but something didn’t feel right after I let the seconds drip off closer “Twinge”. This is certainly Chevelle. I know Pete Loeffler’s crooning voice fairly well, I’d like to think, and the riffs are plentiful, but the struggle arises when trying to situate these songs within the bands discography. La Gargola felt foreign, like another band doing Chevelle songs, tweaking their typical structure of music, adding eerie sound effects and shouting “Hey!”. It wasn’t until after I had gone back and listened to This Type of Thinking that I understood the odd feeling this album leaves me with.

Finding Chevelle after exhausting a majority of commercial rock for five years was like graduating from the radio. They sounded violently different from their peers with riffs that climbed within speakers and an aggression that felt natural in all sense of the word. Ironically, I loathed the band at first, but walked away with an itch to try again, which proved wise. La Gargola represents a new beast – honestly, I was shocked I was going to have to adjust to my favorite band again. This is the first time Chevelle brings anything new to the table and that begins by pulling Pete away from it. All three members are of equal importance this time around. Chevelle’s backbone has always been the bass, but before La Gargola it’s role relied on mimicking much of Pete’s lead - this is the first time it’s presence dictates the direction of songs. Following behind is Pete’s voice, saved for when the instruments need their biggest push, like the bridge on “An Island” that builds and builds only to have him set off the heavy riffs that close out the track. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want the rest of the album to be identical to “An Island”. It’s audaciously loud and is just different enough to firmly say, “Yes, this is a new Chevelle song”. This is the bait though, and the conundrum is typical: venture with something new or tread familiar waters. I face this decision each time I eat out; I like to think Chevelle approach creation the same way.

La Gargola’s greatest achievement is how complete it feels, with few seconds, if minutes, wasted; the short track list attests to this leaving little fat. Tracks follow one another with an urgent manner hand in hand, darkening the mood as the album progresses. Songs feel on the verge of cracking by the seconds and it’s when the band choose to let go that we find the brothers at their most exciting. “Jawbreaker” is Chevelle bouncing at their best, before unleashing a heavy wave of dissonance paired expertly with Pete’s feverish vocal repetition. Though the band has always had a penchant for creating a balance between the loud/soft dynamic, in recent years that formula’s grown rather awkward, and Pete’s confliction with progressing the bands “heaviness” led to these weaker bouts with aggression. La Gargola challenges that notion by blending the line between what’s familiar with something sonically new, bending vivacious hooks around the typical crunch that fuels their sound.

Truth be told, Chevelle have never sounded so alive, and this release shows how comfortable they’ve become with any notable shift in their sound; La Gargola bites a hook and relentlessly dances for fifty minutes - jaded and all. I can’t recall the last time the band has wrote anything as infectious as “Choking Game” and it’s superbly crafted ending that juxtaposes the songs’ first three minutes beautifully. “Under the Knife” could be lauded for it’s same design, tacking on an even beefier ending that compliments the overall rough nature of the track. In both cases, and on a majority of La Gargola, the reason for excitement is what the band accomplishes instrumentally. Beneath all the loud make-up that’s been applied, a more methodical hand turns La Gargola’s gears. Below the low tuned guitars and stabilized drumming brims an atmosphere that elevates this release atop their discography - a chilling intro sets the mood on “Ouija Board,” and the album smartly follows this energy by staying ahead of the usual Chevelle tropes.

It’s the finer things here that truly elevate La Gargola, things that will have insurmountable worth for a devout fan. However, most casual listeners will dismiss the risks Chevelle take here. Obvious changes exist as well; “One Ocean” drips soft rock balladry and “Take Out the Gunman” has that damn cowbell, but the magic rests in what drives the band this time around; from the lyrical content on the unsettling nature of horror - a perfect foundation for a band that writes with a cryptic hand - to the slight implication that a majority of La Gargola’s tracks feel like past attempts to branch creatively done right. What’s most promising is this albums density. My initial apprehension was not a sign of being let down, but an unfamiliarity toward the material. Where recent releases have enjoyed immediate standouts while suffering from songs stuffed with filler, La Gargola shoots for cohesion, standing as strong as it’s weakest track will allow, and that extraordinarily simple concept is what redefines Chevelle fifteen years later.



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user ratings (555)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
fromtheinside
March 31st 2014



17714 Comments


thanks to clim and scream


favorite tracks:
jawbreaker
hunter
island
choking game

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

sapient
March 31st 2014



1840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Dude, excellent review

Digging: The Dillinger Escape Plan - Miss Machine

Green Baron
March 31st 2014



18011 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Plugging this before Sony went all copyright bastard on us

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

climactic
March 31st 2014



18338 Comments


: )))))))

Relinquished
March 31st 2014



24428 Comments


great review fromthefanboy

fromtheinside
March 31st 2014



17714 Comments


i'll take that!

Green Baron
March 31st 2014



18011 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

we should see how he takes the new LP

fromtheinside
March 31st 2014



17714 Comments


lol i can't name the last linkin park album i heard truthfully

sapient
March 31st 2014



1840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

YOU'RE GUILTY ALL THE SAMEEEEE

fromtheinside
March 31st 2014



17714 Comments


getting the lyrics for this is what does it

PistolPete
March 31st 2014



3556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you didn't see this but I stood up and did a slow clap upon finishing this review (this might be your best review yet, or damn close to it)

easiest pos ever

Digging: Nothing More - Nothing More

sapient
March 31st 2014



1840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This^

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2014



9066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good shit man loved the review! Album is certainly a step up

Still no contrib or staffer review yet. My time to shine!

PistolPete
March 31st 2014



3556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You go get em!

fromtheinside
March 31st 2014



17714 Comments


the beauty is knowing i'm going to love this more eventually

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2014



9066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea I can't see this growing off. It's kinda different for time. Less accessible kind of.

fromtheinside
March 31st 2014



17714 Comments


also just caught the comments, big thanks

i went into this whole ordeal before even hearing the album about how i knew what i wanted to say about this and yadda yadda but actually hearing it threw me off completely

all i need now is to find something to like about twinge

Ecnalzen
March 31st 2014



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That was a damn good read. Really looking forward to hearing this after reading everybodys thoughts on it so far.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2014



9066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dude Twinge is my favorite on this. So mesmerizing.

Wadlez
March 31st 2014



3820 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

La gargle



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