Hats Off To The Bull

Written by: PP on 21/12/2011 06:00:11

Chevelle have received their fair share of both praise and criticism for a sound that is often argued to be essentially derived from Tool's "Ænima" and "Lateralus" albums. And for all intents and purposes, that has very much stood true throughout the last eight years of their career, where they've established their signature sound as precisely that. But they've also honed it to near-perfection, where it stands today as an easily recognizable sound that'll always draw parallels to Maynard & co, but is distinguished enough to make it impossible to confuse the two together. Where Tool has gone for complexity and immense depth, Chevelle have always been happy with merely playing catchy alternative rock tunes that are borderline nu-metal at times given their crunchy, pseudo-heavy, radio-friendly riffs.

That is something they've been extraordinarily good at, with especially 2007's "Vena Sera" proving that sounding like a cross-cut between Taproot, old The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Tool has its benefits. If we go even further back than that all the way to 1999, the band has been consistently releasing quality mainstream alternative rock albums about every two or three years or so. That makes "Hats Off To The Bull" their sixth studio album, and their fourth album in a row with only subtle changes to a sound that works well for them.

Cue in the crunchy guitars that provide dark melodies slowly working their way up and down octaves, dynamic melodies that at first sound like your average American radio rock band but have so much more to offer than that, and a fantastic major label production that leaves really no room for complaints: it's perfect for the Chevelle sound, like it has been for a long while now. Then there's of course vocalist Pete Loeffler, whose Maynard impression is not just convincing, but he has a great sense for sticky vocal melodies that create that darkened mainstream rock mood to their songs. His performance is every bit as good as it has been in the past, where he has arguably been one of the best vocalists in modern alternative rock for more than a decade now. It continues to baffle me how little credit he receives on the European market, which Chevelle continues to ignore as they have done throughout their career to the detriment of us Euro fans still waiting to catch Chevelle live after all these years.

Some of you may remember Chevelle's classic alt-metal tracks like "Send The Pain Below" and of course "The Red". "The Meddler" from this album is probably as close as we'll ever get to the former's chilling melody, elevating it as the standout track from this album together with "Ruse", another brilliant song that quintessentially exemplifies the Chevelle sound.

Some slight variation exists with unusual rhythms (for this band, anyway) and melody textures on the second half of the album, perhaps more so than on any of the last three albums we've heard from the band. I'm not sure it's for the better. It might just be me, but when I pop on a Chevelle record I always expect to hear their signature sound in all its infectious glory. Any deviation is likely to reduce from the crunchy alt metal effect the band does so well. Luckily, the majority of the album continues to uphold the high standard we've grown to expect from Chevelle, but it also makes it a very typical album for them to write. It's not as groundbreaking as "Wonder What's Next", nor as catchy as "Vena Sera", but it's about as good as "Sci-Fi Crimes" from two years ago.


Download: The Meddler, Ruse, Arise
For the fans of: Taproot, Tool, old The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Korea, Deftones
Listen: Soundcloud

Release date 06.12.2011

Face to the Floor by Chevelle

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