Edited by Brett Buchanan
In an age where bands seem to come and go, there is something refreshing about a band like Chevelle. Perhaps it is how they have a well-defined formula without sounding formulaic. Maybe it is that album after album, you are guaranteed to see Chevelle churn out instantly recognizable, hard hitting singles ( our number one Mainstream Rock songs, fourteen in the top ten). Or maybe it is that they have outlasted and eclipsed many of their contemporaries in terms of artistic integrity, career longevity, and musicianship.
Eight albums in, the power trio from Chicago have perhaps released their most intriguing, heaviest album to date, The North Corridor. Produced again by the band and Evil Joe Barresi (Queens Of The Stone Age, Coheed and Cambria), The North Corridor provides a sound that longtime Chevelle fans have come to love while having a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure.
Chevelle waste no time here. Album opener Door To Door Cannibals is a sonic gut punch demanding the listener strap themselves in for what is to come. Not to mention the song sports one of the bands greatest guitar solos. Singer/Gutarist Pete Loeffler digs in vocally, sounding more angry and aggressive in the first verse than on the entirety of 2014’s La Gargola. Where on that album, Chevelle seemed to pick and choose their moments of heaviness and aggression, they go full force on The North Corridor.
Lead single Joyride (Omen) begins with a devilishly good fuzz bass line before breaking into pure Chevelle bliss. Pounding drums, the eerie, almost whispered vocals of Loeffler set the mood before calming in an almost dreamy (By Chevelle Standards) prechorus that leads to a sonic explosion in the chorus. For longtime Chevelle fans, I imagine they would be hard pressed to pick a better lead single to hear when news of a new Chevelle record is coming.
What makes this album so strong is that it is always driving. There are not many moments where things calm down. By time you get to the album’s 8th track, Punchline, you’re not sure what you’re hearing but you’re pulled in. Imagine 2001: A Space Odyssey with a score by Trent Reznor. It sounds nothing like the rest of the album or really like anything in Chevelle’s entire discography, but it is so enchanting and so Chevelle you don’t bat an eye.
The back-to-back-to-back of Last Days, Young Wicked and Warhol’s Showbiz is where this separates itself from Chevelle albums of the past. While most of their albums are consistently strong, they have a lot of ebb and flow. These three songs raise the bar tremendously with Last Days serving as probably the best Chevelle song since The Meddler off of 2011’s Hats Off To The Bulls.
The secret to Chevelle’s success has been how well they combine strong vocal melodies, start-stop rhythms and choruses filled with hooks large enough to bring in a shark. What actually amazes on The North Corridor is the catchiness of these songs while also being Chevelle’s heaviest album to date. Pete Loeffler’s ability to straddle the lines between melodic and heavy, familiar and risky, are Chevelle’s strongest weapons.
But Pete doesn’t do it alone. Bass and drums have always been pushed to the forefront of the mix with Chevelle but The North Corridor takes it to another level. The absolute power coming from bassist Dean Bernandini and drummer Sam Loeffler cannot be understated. See the album’s second track Enemies as well as album closer, Shot From A Canon. If there was a rhythm section fantasy league, I would be hard pressed to think of another alternative-metal combo I would want.
Chevelle have proven again to be one of the most consistent alternative/metal bands going today. While a lot of bands try to be something they are not, Chevelle not only embrace who they are, but have found ways to take risks and chances that ultimately pay off. It is not often bands continue to get better with age, but if ever an exception to this rule, it would be Chevelle.
Key Songs: Door To Door Cannibals. Last Days. Joyride (Omen)