It’s very easy for a band that’s been together for over a decade to try to venture out into new genres to either capture a new fan base or to stay relevant in the current, fast-moving medium of music. Unfortunately, as found with such releases as Korn’s The Paradigm Shift, trying new things is not always going to be successful and will further alienate your essential fan base. There always has to be something that people can identify you with and this is a particular problem with rock in general today.
The predominant theme of Chevelle’s seventh studio album, La Gargola,is not only a revisiting of the previous hard rock aggression found in their first release, Wonder What’s Next, but it also progresses a winning formula of what has kept them on the hard rock scene for ten plus years. The band nabbed producer Joe Barresi to help on producing this album, and he himself has produced some of the best hard rock records in recent years such as Every Time I Die’s Ex Lives and Queen of the Stone Age’s Lullabies to Paralyze.
Right from the start of La Gargola, listeners will recognize vocalist/guitarist Pete Loeffler’s aggressive but rhythmic guitar riffs as the first two tracks on the album, “Ouija Board” and “An Island” will delight any Chevelle fans who enjoy this style. The current single “Take Out the Gunman” is a staunch indicator on how the band can toe the line between its signature brooding sound and radio appeal as the song is currently #2 on the Billboard Rock charts.
A particular album highlight is the track “Choking Game”, where the band comes together to deliver a superbly blistering outro. Drummer Sam Loeffler’s percussion on this track shines, especially with the fills that play off Pete’s infectious guitar and Dean Bernardini’s bass lines. This is what it sounds like when a band is fully bought into their sound and is ready to turn the dial to 10 on the volume. The album is not without its soft points. “One Ocean” and “Twinge” find soft singing by vocalist Pete Loeffler, where the guitars are not the focus point. Rather, the percussion and moody atmosphere take precedent which is a refreshing departure for what is mostly an in-your-face listening experience.
It’s very easy to see why Chevelle has maintained their relevance for 15 years. They take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage and actually fix it, not afraid to add a little to their already-established niche sound with different song structures and guitar effects. La Gargola, although a very familiar experience, reminds us why we love Chevelle in the first place and why they could stick around for another 15 years to come. Hey, Metallica and the Rolling Stones are still alive and kicking.