Alright, confession time. I wasn’t a big music listener towards the beginning of my life, besides the classic rock bands like Styx and Queen that my family played in the car. But my first step into the area of modern rock music was the Chicago-based trio Chevelle. The first song I ever heard from them was “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)” off of their sophomore album This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In). Even with what little success that they’ve made for themselves, I always kept an eye on them, hoping they would recreate the feeling I first got when I was younger.
Of course, they did. This is due in point that most of their albums sound reminiscent to every other album they made. This leads me into their sixth album, Hats Off To The Bull, which is another successful outing from the trio, though not really stretching their sound a whole lot.
Their first single off of the album, “Face to the Floor,” which is a mainstream rock radio’s dream; the combination of the repetative guitar lick and normal vocal stylings of Pete Loeffler makes this one a song that will stick around the rotation for a long time. The title track is a hard hitting anthem, which I can only believe will be the second single off of this album. “The Meddler” is a track in the veins of the aformentioned “Hats Off To The Bull,” able to mix a downtempo feel to a rather hard rock song.
Of course, most bands have a softer side. Chevelle is no different. “Prima Donna” is a decent ballad about being left out, while “Envy” is that same musical formula, just with really decent backing vocals to help close out the song. I know that’s not a whole lot, but it’s better than nothing.
The main problem with Chevelle’s latest entry into their discography…is that is sounds exactly like everything else in their discography. If I gave a new listener a mix of these songs, combine them with their past works, I would almost guarantee that they would think it’s the same album.
Also, and this might be a slight fan-gripe, but I feel like Pete has lost his anger that was apparent on his past albums. Not that his voice is bad at all (it certainly makes him recognizable), but there aren’t any tracks that would grab you in the chest like “The Fad” did back on Vena Sera or “The Clincher” on This Type Of Thinking.
What can I say at the end of the day? Probably that it is the Chevelle that we all have come to know. No real stretches soundwise, and no true stand out track to attract new listeners to buy the album. I’m not saying that the album is bad, it’s quite the contrary. It’s just another solid Chevelle album. Fans of the product will love it, new listeners might get into it, while some of their fair-weather listeners might become bored with the same song-and-thrash that they’ve been doing for about ten years. For me, I might take a couple of songs off of the album, but none of the songs in Hats Off beats their earlier material.
Final Grade: C
Go Download: “Face To The Floor”