Sci-Fi Crimes

Written by: PP on 14/10/2009 04:38:06

So I've been listening to Chevelle for the better part of this decade because they're so god damn consistent. Album after album these guys have been putting out solid alternative rock with a couple of mammoth singles per album, but for some weird reason their success in Europe has been minimal (and even that feels like an overstatement). Why their major label Epic Records doesn't spend money to promote them over here is a mystery to me, because if you look at their US sales, their fifth album "Sci-Fi Crimes" is their best selling record to date, shifting 46,000 records on its first week of sales, subsequently landing #6 on the Billboard top 200 chart. Maybe it's because their sound is very typical to the stuff that has been dominating mainstream/alternative rock radio stations across the US ever since...well, probably early 90s when Nirvana made it big, and the label feels like anything even remotely similar to nu-metal/post-grunge/alternative rock just won't fly in Europe. Just look at how unknown Filter are over here!

Don't be mistaken though, these guys have never had anything to do with bands like Nickelback, Breaking Benjamin and so forth, quite far from it actually. Instead, "Sci-Fi Crimes" basically shows Chevelle doing what Chevelle does best, sounding like a simplified version of Tool - or Deftones for that matter - with some resemblance to Taproot or The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus as well. In other words, well thought out, thick riffs and restrained aggression all over the vocals for the people who think Tool's songs are a bit too complicated and long-winded. Just listen to some of the vocal structures on this album, I swear you can hear Maynard's signature explosiveness written all over the restrained vocals wallowing between a scream and whisperous clean vocals. But "Sci-Fi Crimes" also shows a band that's dangerously close to running out of ideas, because for large sections of the album, it feels like Chevelle on autopilot. If you're familiar with their third album "This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)", then you'll know "Sci-Fi Crimes" inside out before you've even popped it on for the first time. The difference to "Vena Sera", their previous album, is that there are less screams and the riffs aren't as ear-bruising. Doesn't that sound awfully familiar? That's because it's the identical path that the band took from "Wonder What's Next" to "This Type Of Thinking...", which they then reversed on "Vena Sera" a few years after.

Are they purposefully alternating with releasing heavier and softer albums? If so, the band are definitely lost, because as I mentioned in the "Vena Sera" review, Chevelle have always been at their best when they let vocalist Pete Loeffler loose and allow him to translate his anger into the music through his trademark scream. In many places you end up feeling like the guitars are doing as good a job as they always have, but Pete falls a bit short on the vocals, failing to write unforgettable lines like those we know from "Send The Pain Below" and other Chevelle classics. But despite all the negatives, it's difficult to fault Chevelle's output on the album, because as I mentioned earlier, they're a frighteningly consistent song writing unit when it comes to their genre. They're one of the best alternative rock bands around, and "Sci-Fi Crimes" solidifies that position, even if it does feel a bit of a let down from "Vena Sera".


Download: Sleep Apnea, Jars, Letter From A Thief
For the fans of: Tool, Taproot, Deftones, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Korea, Filter
Listen: Myspace

Release date 31.08.2009
Epic Records

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