Don’t Wake The Enemy – Thoughts on Chevelle
Written by Kevin Richard White
Cannibals. Joyrides. Andy Warhol? Yep, just another day in the park for Chevelle.
The Illinois alt-metal trio have thumped and pushed their way back into the hard rock scene once more with the release of their eighth album, titled The North Corridor. And much like other releases throughout their career, it is not subtle nor delicate. It’s not easy-listening to play at a dinner party. In fact, it’s what you play when you’re speeding down the highway, lost in yourself, or maybe when you’re in need of some post-grunge rage and nothing else will do. It pulsates waves of solid static and growls straight to your brain and never lets up for the course of its ten songs (eleven, if you count the bonus tracks). It has been a band that has dressed itself as nothing more than straightforward, in-your-face rock and makes no apologies for doing so (of which this reviewer is extremely grateful for).
The beauty about this release is that it is a slight more experimental than past albums. While for the first few songs it’s the Chevelle that we know – Door To Door Cannibals and Enemies do not let up for a second, with vocalist Pete Loeffler shrieking and bellowing in any way he sees fit – but go back down to a more subdued tone in Rivers, only to finish the song with his patented determined snarl, the trademark for this band, other than its cryptic lyrics and tenacious guitar work. Punchline features backup vocal echoes and a whispered delivery, not something we hear often from the group. The final song of the album, Shot From A Cannon, falls back into the aforementioned experimental category – clocking in at over eight minutes, which for Chevelle, is unchartered territory, but it ends with a stone wall of feedback, letting you immerse yourself in a pool of introspection, letting you fall back into a normal world, one not full of rampage and themes of dread.
That isn’t to say that the band paints negative pictures of life. Another beautiful thing about the band is the way that its lyrics are not ones of your standard alternative metal group. Loeffler is a well-read enough individual to make songs into a mess of emotions, which lead to cut-up stories that give it multiple meanings. Joyride (Omen) features a narration that suggests some unsavory but captivating images: “Your kiss stabs like some voodoo hex/Well, like a servant I once double crossed”. In Young Wicked, we’re given a scene we probably would have never dreamed of: “Eating up those, satires, twilights and ozone/The animals have gone down below”. On paper, they read like an Ad-Lib gone wrong – but when mixed with its indelible sound, it creates better songs than its competitors or even predecessors.
Chevelle is a polarizing band – most listeners remember their mega-hit Send The Pain Below and then probably not much else – as they never really reached super-stardom like some of their rivals. But it isn’t a strong enough instance to write them off or even ignore them. A string of strong albums over the last ten years is enough to carve them a special niche in the hard rock universe. Loeffler’s vision of music may drive some away due to its presentation, but on the contrary, maybe it’s more of a reason to eschew safety and comfort, and just go on the joyride they speak of. The North Corridor is an album of a band in its prime and they intend to keep that prime for a while, it seems, which for the industry – believe it, it’s a great thing.
You can pick up Chevelle’s The North Corridor on iTunes or right here.