Chevelle

Vena Sera

Written by: PP on 16/04/2007 12:46:21

Chevelle has always been seen by many as merely a less complicated version for Tool, geared at those who like the sound of Maynard & co but stumble on its overwhelming complexity and difficult learning curve. Despite myself disagreeing with many of these accusations, they are unlikely to disappear after Chevelle's fourth studio album "Vena Sera", because the distant Tool-influence is still clearly visible on many tracks.

Take the opening track "Antisaint" for instance. Vocalist Pete Loeffler sounds indisputably like Maynard in many passages of the song, but particularly in his trademark borderline screamo shouts and the squeakily high parts. The chugging chord-based distorted riffs will also draw parallels to Tool's work even if the progressions aren't as complex and tuned to perfection. But honestly, being compared to Tool, why should that be considered negative?

Besides, Chevelle has always had an identity of their own. "Point #1" and "Wonder What's Next" are absolute classics in the scream-based alternative rock, and even though the band toned down their aggression slightly in "This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)", it wasn't a bad album at all by any means. But on "Vena Sera", the band has taken a few steps backward and written the album that should have surfaced after "Wonder What's Next". It's faster than "This Type..", darker and brings back some of the screams and originality this band had from the beginning.

"Saferwaters" is one of those original tracks, where the band is at their most melodic without sacrificing any of the nu-metal influenced alt rock heavyness. Pete even lets out a scream or two in the process. And although "Vena Sera" does not have any tracks with the same kind of hollow howls in the midst of barely restrained belligerence as for example "Don't Fake This" or "Forfeit", a few like "Straight Jacket Fashion" are very close. It characterizes the whole of Chevelle's sound in a single song with sudden outbursts of screams, subtle tempo changes, and Pete's fantastic ability to vary his range from low to high in an instant. Best of all, the chorus is infectiously catchy without being cliché or overly accessible. "Paint The Seconds" sees the band at their classic best, opening with catchy acoustic chords before the distortion kicks in and the riffs lead way to Pete's distinct, whisperous vocal work, which reaches its melodic best in the bridge and the chorus.

While "Point #1" and "Wonder What's Next" were in-your-face and aggressive respectively, "This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)" was overly melodic and a slight let down as fans missed their less-produced raw edge. "Vena Sera" is a combination of all three and most likely what the band intended to do from the beginning. It mixes aggression and heavyness with subdued melody and the occasional catchy chorus, but never treads into the dangerous waters of forced screams nor overly melodic or obvious delivery. Perhaps the tracks on the album aren't the best the band has written individually, but as a whole, the album is more solid than anything they've written to date. For us Europeans, Chevelle are still very much America's best kept secret, but maybe "Vena Sera" will finally open doors for a large European tour, and a consquential explosion in fanbase over here. After all, records like "Point #1" and "Wonder What's Next" are among those to be held accountable for a large deal of influence in today's emo/screamo scenes.

Download: Straight Jacket Fashion, Saferwaters
For the fans of: Tool, Taproot, Finger Eleven, 30 Seconds To Mars, Deftones
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.04.2007
Epic Records

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