Epic Records/Sony Rs 150 (MP3)
It’s all in the family for Chevelle on their seventh studio album, La Gargola. In addition to brothers Pete (on vocals and guitars) and Sam Loeffler (on drums), they’ve got their brother-in-law Dean Bernardini on bass. We’re pretty sure the atmosphere whilst recording La Gargola was a bit playful, considering the brothers even let Bernardini play drums on their smashing opening track ‘Ouija Board’.
While Chevelle had previously experimented with alternative metal and post-grunge spaces, La Gargola is a seriously riff-heavy affair, aggressive in its 10-track entirety. Pete Loeffler is a screaming maniac for the most part, sometimes channelling his inner Maynard James Keenan, drawing influence from the Tool vocalist on songs such as ‘Take Out The Gunman’ and ‘An Island’.
Aggression is what has helped Chevelle grow steadily to become one of the most stable and well-established metal bands out there, weathering genre trends and more to compose catchy, heavy songs.
Their lead single ‘Take Out The Gunman’ is a study in how the brothers Loeffler manage to tweak their album’s prominent sound just a little bit to get radio-friendly. But it’s not about airplay or music videos so much for Chevelle – the trio prefer that their music does most of the talking. And talk it does. In the madness of songs such as ‘Hunter Eats Hunter’, ‘Twinge’ and ‘Under The Knife’, there’s enough guitar riffs packed in to make every club or festival audience head-bang. Add to that Pete Loeffler’s ability to articulate rage in his quiver that turns to scream with lyrics like, “Who’s got the knife to settle this?/ When you're the last to know/I started 1976/And that wasn't fast enough” on ‘Under The Knife’. There’s a spot of diversity, drawing listeners away from just head-banging-worthy numbers to the half-industrial rock ‘Jawbreaker’ and the roomy, trippy ‘One Ocean’. Chevelle are getting older but they’re not the kind of band you would write off as hitting their peak with any of their albums.
The same is the case with La Gargola. Chevelle might be getting older, but they’re also getting better.