Review Summary: On La Gargola, Chevelle are at their most confident and passionate.
The key difference between the front and back halves of Chevelle’s discography is the demonstration of confidence and comfortableness in what they choose to perform and record. The ever-praised debut "Wonder What’s Next" prevailed thanks to its relentless catchiness, but on the two albums that followed, it seemed the band had trouble picking up momentum. Their selected blends of riffs and melodies had become clunky and bland, and their devotion to similar mid-tempo rhythms gave off somewhat of a “dragging-on” effect. Beginning with "Sci-fi Crimes" Chevelle picks up a sense of urgency and excitement that makes songs more savory as well as the goal of listening through the whole record, much easier to achieve. On "Hats off To The Bull," they reach a new level of catchiness for themselves, and songs are notably shorter, but again it avoids tiring them out and thus they become a greater pleasure to hear each time after.
Here on 2014’s "La Gargola," the band is at their most professional status. Songs are very well-written and Chevelle seems totally content in their performance. Vocalist Pete Loeffler is no longer a questionable “great.” He has ditched any and all tendencies that made him awkward in the past such as overzealous crooning or choppy choruses. Songs like “Take Out The Guman,” and “Hunter Eats Hunter” have irresistible sing-along choruses, while the simple growl and “…to put you on!” from “An Island “ and other less-complex approaches to chorus lyrics are fun enough to sing on their own. This is the great thing about Pete on "La Gargola"; he is either right in your face, or stepping back a few feet to let the guitars crush you while he glides by and commentates.
In the past, Chevelle relied heavily on melodies that were built out of ringing single chord riffs that turned stale fast. They’ve added more seasoning and activity to their playing since then, and on "La Gargola" they only add more spices. Opener “Ouija Board” is tense and fast-paced with an explosive intro and verse that both soothes and upsets. “Jawbreaker” follows a fairly groovy rhythm that’s almost industrial and gives the song a bit of a sophisticated tough-guy attitude. The maniacal main riff of “The Damned” will most likely zombify any listener into hearing out Pete as he asks “How wrong were they?”
There’s no acoustic-only cut this time around, let alone any acoustic guitar, but instead Chevelle deliver two entrancing and softer tracks that use clean electric guitar as well as bass and drums. “One Ocean” is sweet and refreshing; the echoes of its main motif and passionate chorus nearly simulate the image of the beach. Closer “Twinge” is darker and much more ominous, but endlessly addictive and mind-numbing.
"La Gargola" is also the darkest Chevelle record to date. Lyrical themes revolve around evading gargoyles when taking out the trash (“Hunter Eats Hunter”), becoming a zombie (“The Damned”) deadly personal affairs (“Under the Knife”) and much more.
Overall, there’s so much to "La Gargola" that is evidence of Chevelle settling further into their own groove of things. In a way, they are staying true to what they always did, while simultaneously putting out their best material yet. Despite the metal landscape they began their career on becoming drastically altered over the years, Chevelle have always ignored their peers and maintained consistency. The fact that they’re more creative than ever, is an added bonus.