Chevelle
NIRATIAS


4.0
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
March 5th, 2021 | 463 replies


Release Date: 03/05/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Branching out, baby steps

Chevelle always seemed to be one of those bands who could go on forever just by doing their thing. They have been dropping one excellent album after another up to the point where everyone takes them for granted. However, front man Pete Loeffler mentioned experiencing writer’s block and considering leaving the project aside to rest for a long time, causing some worries for fans. His sincere statement got many believing this is their final work. Nevertheless, he was kind enough to leave it to the audience to decide whether the material is on par with their best or should they take a break. Thankfully, this is not the case. NIRATIAS (Nothing Is Real and This Is a Simulation) arrives after an almost 5-year gap and purposely follows a more melodic path than its two predecessors. The results may not their strongest, yet the ride is just as fun as the others.

NIRATIAS feels somewhat relaxed in nature when compared to other Chevelle affairs. Sonically, it stands somewhere between Sci-Fi Crimes and Hats Off to the Bull, constantly blending heavy riffs with melodic segments. Ultimately, it’s all about finding new ways to keep things interesting while retaining their sonic trademarks. There is a focus on diversity as a way to create a dynamic listen. Lyrically, the record develops upon topics such as Elon Musk’s Mars colonization plans, space travelling, starting anew, but also power abuse or denying scientific facts, among others. It is worth mentioning that Dean Bernardini left the band, leaving Pete in charge of bass duties too. The former shone on The North Corridor, but Loeffler does a good job as well. There is less low end in the mix this time, often relying on a sharper tone instead. Starting off with an instrumental track, a first for the guys, ‘Verruckt’ nicely builds the atmosphere for the first album highlight, ‘So Long, Mother Earth’. This powerful track boasts infectious riffs and an intense vocal delivery. Pete sings as passionate as ever, especially on the choruses and the final part where things become heavier. ‘Mars Simula’ is one of their classic moody cuts, where you just wait for them to snap into an intense rage. The distorted bass adds significant weight to the track, similar to its role on ‘An Island’ from La Gargola.

From here, the journey diversifies, each track finding its own spot in the Chevelle spectrum. The volatile main riff from ‘Self Destructor’ sticks like glue, complete with catchy vocals and a tantrum-like break halfway through. The band tones down slightly on ‘Pistol Star (Gravity Heals)’, using a straightforward drum beat, chunky power chords and a roller coaster of a guitar solo that adds a nice depth to the tune. Meanwhile, Peter goes nuts at the end, screaming his lungs out. An interesting thing is that his voice seems to get higher in pitch with each album. On the other hand, ‘Endlessly’ creates a more ethereal vibe through its floating, reverbed guitar leads and epic timpani enhancements. These are pleasant additions to what might have been a bare bone acoustic moment on a previous LP. Towards the end, ‘Remember When’ tunefully plays the nostalgia card in a lovely tuneful way, switching from soft to loud riffing multiple times. Behind the space travelling theme, Loeffler talks a bit about how he’s not that young anymore. Then, ‘Ghost and Razor’ offers us one last round of swinging grooves, before ‘Lost in Digital Woods’ closes the record on a rather somber note. A piano plays a couple of thrilling chords while Pete speaks the lyrics as if alone in a remote place at night. This ditty shares a darker, Nine Inch Nails-ish vibe and it would have been cool if they had expanded it beyond the wah guitar madness that follows.

Overall, NIRATIAS ends up as a slightly different Chevelle album mainly due to its interlude-filled tracklist and a sort of unifying theme throughout. Sci-Fi Crimes comes closest for obvious reasons, yet kudos to the Loeffler brothers for trying new formulas even though they are baby steps. The songs are just as tight as before and, unsurprisingly, even the standard ones have something interesting going on. Also, the production seems a tad more organic, which is suitable for this dynamic batch of tracks. Nevertheless, I would like to see the band branch out more, to try new things rather than just press pause and work on a side project. They pleased fans for 25 years by crafting such strong records, now the guys should be free to experiment at will.



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user ratings (372)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
whitecastle142 (3.5)
A compendium of classic Chevelle elements spiced up with the band’s best guitar work to date, NIRA...



Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2021


5407 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It feels slightly different, although it's pretty much a Chevelle record. They should try and experiment more to keep things interesting for themselves.



Stream here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb0MAIzedwo&list=OLAK5uy_kyslbXuOS00QrkKEYZW2poOp0GSqN72EI

Digging: Motorpsycho - Kingdom of Oblivion

Gyromania
March 5th 2021


32275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is as on-brand as it gets. 0 innovation - it's like they've been writing the same song for 2 decades now. and, as always, none of it is bad, but it's far from memorable

Sharenge
March 5th 2021


1517 Comments


sounds like maybe they are taking a break after this

Digging: Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2021


5407 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoyed it, but I want them to do some different stuff if possible next.

WalrusTusk
March 5th 2021


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If this is another Sci-Fi Crimes I'm stoked.

Toondude10
March 5th 2021


14462 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

probably their best album imo

Gyromania
March 5th 2021


32275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

weird take. it's just chevelle by numbers, except there's no standout track like shameful metaphors

Toondude10
March 5th 2021


14462 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

ehh, in terms of production maybe, but it's definitely more melodic than most of the previous stuff. not as heavy and crushing as their last couple albums.

AaroN911
March 5th 2021


2981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This will be my first time trying a full chevelle album...

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2021


5407 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shameful metaphors, yes, that track pops up in my head at random times. I love it.



Probably closest to such an addictive song here for me might be So Long, Mother Earth



DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2021


16863 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

excellent review, as always ins.



I enjoyed this quite a bit, but nothing blew me away.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2021


3250 Comments


Raul, can you rank the Chevelle albums you've heard in order, please? I was told that every album from WWN-onward is a 3.8 around here, so to see a higher mark already is interesting. Getting ready to listen to this thanks to the review ("So Long, Mother Earth" sounds like a treat given how much I liked "Self Destructor"). I was curious about the bass, because I didn't think it was super prominent in the singles and figured more of Pete's baritone would act like roots than anything. Nice review!

onionbubs
March 5th 2021


13038 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

man i love this but its also the only album of theirs where im not sold on petes vocal performance yet his range has expanded but idk he sounds weird when hes doing almost everything. im really hoping that part of the album grows on me because this is the diverse and ambitious album i have always wanted out of them and musically they knock it out of the fucking park. test test enough through ghost and razor is one of the sickest stretches of chevelle ever and so long mother earth is a fuckin gigantic song

William21
March 5th 2021


611 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As someone who generally prefers the more heavy Chevelle stuff, this was underwhelming. Still some good stuff though

nightbringer
March 5th 2021


1887 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I think I find this whole 'hard rock' sound just too off-putting these days to experience this as anything more than painful. Glad a record is bringing people some joy, though.

ResidentNihilist
March 5th 2021


2050 Comments


The results may not their strongest

*may not be their strongest

KrillBoi
March 5th 2021


17 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of their best for sure. A little too much interlude stuff for my liking but it's not a big problem. So Long, Mother Earth is without a doubt one of their strongest tracks ever.

Digging: Devil Sold His Soul - Loss

onionbubs
March 5th 2021


13038 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

finishing up my 6th listen and i do wish lost in digital woods actually became something at the end. even if it was just an instrumental passage that kind of continued musically what the beginning is doing. the wah guitar does make for a kind of underwhelming end but eh at least the run before is so strong and the first part of the track is cool

WalrusTusk
March 5th 2021


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"So Long, Mother Earth is without a doubt one of their strongest tracks ever."



The Clincher, A Night With El Diablo, Joyride, Shameful Metaphors, and Well Enough Alone beg to differ. Also, I'm only on Mars Simula and so far that track is better than So Long, Mother Earth.

bloc
March 5th 2021


65241 Comments


Wow crazy how it's been 5 years since the last album already. Seems like these guys are releasing something every couple of years

Digging: Chaka Khan - What 'Cha Gonna Do for Me



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