Review Summary: Hard rock's most consistent staple are back with a surprisingly composed, yet heavier album.
Chevelle are a well-known hard rock group who come out of Grayslake, Illinois. They have made a solid career for themselves after the surprising success of their first album, "Point #1" in 1999. Fifteen years and six albums later, they are still attracting their strong fan base to local department stores to buy their newest work. Being a bit disappointed with some of the latest albums(especially Sci-Fi Crimes), apprehension was high. However, Chevelle went back to their metal roots and released a solid album.
Sonically, this is Chevelle's finest effort since "Wonder What's Next." The guitar work is just as heavy as their hardest rock songs with some stronger rhythm to boot. Their niche has always been mostly clean sound with a small tinge of darkness, which the production nails this time around. Pete Loeffler is about as consistent as anyone can ask from a lead vocalist. He never loses pace with the music, can throw some menacing undertones, and even throw a surprising scream here and there. The drumming is one of the few downfalls from this latest outing though. Every performance has a solid presence throughout, but the drums seem to take a major backseat in the action.
Songwriting and composition is the real strong suit on "La Gargola." There are plenty of songs worthy of being radio singles throughout, especially Take Out the Gunman and An Island. Take Out the Gunman has the typical chugging riff structure that Chevelle tend to work toward, but the tertiary sounds add some subtle surprises. Including the best drum work on the whole album and the sense of unease coming from the lead vocals. An Island rides on the same type of vibe overall, but the guitars add a bit of electronic feedback to shake things up. The real shining moments are the two outstanding ballads. One Ocean is the best track on the album, displaying great balance and incredible patience to get to the calm and surreal ending. The closing track, Twinge also provides a good closing. The distorted guitars are solid and the menacing bass line really packs a punch.
There are a few problems on "La Gargola" though. Pete Loeffler has a good voice for a hard rock act, but his lack of highs and lows can cause the songs to become a bit dull. This happens throughout, even on some of the stronger songs. Aside from Hunter Eats Hunter, the vocal work is pretty even and chill to a fault. The only truly bad song on the album is Choking Game, which may be one of Chevelle's worst songs ever. There is no sense of purpose in the song whatsoever, despite all the solid riffs that are put out early on. Jawbreaker runs into similar problems, but the overall mixing works much better in that track.
Chevelle have proven that they are still a band to be reckoned with fifteen years inside of the treacherous industry. The guitar work is at an all-time high for the humble group, Pete Loeffler is still a decent vocalist, and the production is tight on this newest effort. However, Choking Game is a bad track and the album can feel a bit flat upon later listening. "La Gargola" received a solid and surprising 7/10