Review Summary: Growing a fire.
An artist playing it safe with their sound for too long is never a good thing. Little do these artists know is that making tweaks to their sound may make for their most enjoyable album yet. Though Chevelle isn’t exactly the most mainstream artist out there, they had their fair share of hits in the Billboard Hot 100 like “Send The Pain Below” and “The Red.” Despite being slightly less accessible than their counterparts Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin, the mainstream appeal has always been there. Thankfully, Chevelle made some changes in their sound and this results in a more mature and compelling outing. Make no mistake that sticklers for bands sounding like Tool or Deftones may in fact dismiss this, but it doesn’t change how the band has matured lyrically and most importantly: Musically. It’s safe to say that these changes have been a long time coming.
Perhaps the biggest change that makes this record so great is how everyone gets a chance to shine here. Pete’s vocals are no longer the primary focus and this immediately gets rid of most of the band’s mainstream appeal right off the bat. Though Chevelle has always been based on Pete’s vocals and riffs, more of an emphasis has been placed on the latter. As soon as “Ouija Board” kicks off the listener immediately gets a sense of the heavier, grittier sound La Gargola
will showcase. Pete’s guitar work never proves to be overly complex, but they are nonetheless effective on “Ouija Board” and as well as the rest of the album. “Hunter Eats Hunter” also features fantastic catchy guitar riffs that stick in the listener’s head for days.
However, the guitar work is not the only primary focus here. Make no mistake that the drumming and bass finally get a chance to show off effectively. These two being slightly more apparent gives the band a chance to showcase some new sounds in their music. An interesting new take is presented for Sam’s drumming “Take Out The Gunman” and this refreshing change sound be capitalized on more in the future. Also the bass being more apparent makes for a more well-rounded sound. The closer “Twinge” showcases how far the band has come in terms of sound with its muffled yet chilling guitar work, Pete’s mesmerizing whispered performance, great bass riffs and fantastic lyrics. “One Ocean” also possesses these qualities in its soothing Deftones like atmosphere, but the drawback to this song is that it really overstays its welcome unfortunately.
In addition to well-rounded instrumentals, Pete remains as powerful and versatile as ever. A band that focuses on vocals always needs a front man with charisma and luckily this time around he has the rest of his band to fully back him up. Pete’s Maynard James Keenan and Chino Moreno influences are there more than ever this time around, but he still manages to make a voice of his own despite wearing them on his sleeve. His performance in “Under The Knife” solidifies him as one of the best alternative metal vocalists out there and he sure gets the blood pumping in this one. The lyrics throughout the album as just as great as his performance as well and even though they are not incomprehensible by any means, they remain abstract enough to provide some very thought provoking sections like in “Under The Knife” and “Twinge.”
In the album opener, Pete exclaims that “We’re growing a fire” and this fire is growing indeed. These tweaks in their sound are without a doubt a step in the right direction for the band and it makes for a very hopeful future for them. The album may not perfect with “One Ocean’s” overlong nature and the desire for what is heard in “Twinge” to be expanded upon, but La Gargola
certainly sees the band excel in every department. The fire is growing, but who knows what could happen if the fire manages to grow out of control? We shall wait and see.