Tradition has it that sophomore albums are a treacherous sink or swim affair for most bands. Judging by this yardstick, Chicagan metallers, Chevelle, are most definitely afloat and making good headway, at least Stateside, where Wonder What’s Next has been certified platinum. The trio has also secured a much-coveted main stage slot on the summer extravaganza that is the Ozzfest.
On British shores, however, Chevelle’s exposure has been limited to a surprise opening slot for Audioslave in January and one poorly attended, yet brilliant, gig at The Metro Club in June. Like trying to grasp an Oliver Stone epic by only watching the trailer, Britain has barely glimpsed what Chevelle has to offer.
Chevelle consists of brothers, Pete (vox/guitar), Joe (bass) and Sam (drums) Loeffler, who, on first listen, come across as yet another bunch of angry young men. However, do not be fooled into thinking that this is a “white boy pain” band, only fit to be added to the scrap heap of nu-metal. No, this is mature, intelligent, angry-sounding music.
Chevelle have struck out in a somewhat heavier direction than their last outing, the Steve Albini-produced, Point # 1. The band is noticeably influenced by fellow Chicagans, Helmet, who they pay tribute to, particularly during the rousing opener, Family System. Fans of the band will no doubt be sick to death of hearing the obvious comparisons to Tool, but the fact remains that Pete’s Loeffler’s vocals are very akin to the brooding yet melodic characteristics of Maynard James Kennan, and this is far from a bad thing.
The songwriting has noticeably improved on their major label debut. Stand out tracks are The Red, which has rock radio hit written all over it, and Send The Pain Below, a perfect example of the band’s love for anthemic choruses, with perhaps a touch of Deftones guitar thrown in too. Songs like Don’t Fake This undoubtedly capture the Loefller brothers at their best, where emotional intensity, lamenting, raw vocals and blisteringly heavy riffs collide head on, to produce polished songs that stick in your head for days.
On the album’s title track, the following two questions are posed: “Is this of good quality? I wonder what’s next?” In answer to the first, most definitely, there are no qualms with the high calibre, heavy rock that Chevelle have served up here. As for what is next for them, let’s hope for more of the same, with the warm reception and level of recognition that music of this quality simply demands.