There’s something to be said about consistency; in a world of constant change, an industry where staying stagnant is a death sentence while simultaneously over-thinking the need for experimentation can alienate those who have stuck around for highs and lows, just knowing what to expect from one of your favorite artists is something that should be treasured. Chevelle are that treasure; releasing some of the most consistently great and heavy material for the last 14 years, they are truly an anomaly in the world of ‘mainstream’ rock/metal. A band that can cater to those that enjoy hearing catchy tunes on the radio, but also those that love the unabashedly and unrelentingly heavy music that this trio somehow keeps fresh release after release. With the creation of La Gargola, Chevelle not only ratcheted up the heavy but also dabbled with experimentation in their sound, releasing arguably their finest album to date. 2 years later, and the world best prepare: Chevelle have done it again. Arguably their finest release (true of nearly every album of theirs post-Wonder What’s Next) but almost unarguably their heaviest collection put to record, The North Corridor is quite possibly a candidate for album of the year: it is that good.
Chevelle, up to this point, have not been ones for taking their time with us fans; they know what we want, and we get it on track one; the distortion and simplicity of the main riff of Door to Door Cannibals is what we’ve come to know of Chevelle, but it still feels fresh. It’s heavy, it’s catchy, and Pete’s vocals, which have become increasingly harsher as years go on, are the perfect compliment. Impossible to miss are the wonderfully dirty, groovy bass lines of Dean Bernardini, and the double bass driven percussive assault of Sam Loeffler, which help create that thick, punishing atmosphere the likes of which is rarely seen in mainstream metal these days. Lest we forget, however, Chevelle are the exception to most of those ‘mainstream’ rules.
Pete’s dynamic vocals are on full display throughout the album; from the early cleans of Young Wicked leading to a full on scream of ‘yes sir’ preceding an aural assault of anger, to his heretofore unmentioned yet fully documented crooning on Rivers, we listeners are always in for a treat, as track to track we really just don’t know exactly what Pete we are going to get, except that it will be one we have come to know and love. Warhol’s Showbiz opens rather unassumingly, primarily focusing on feedback and distortion, paving the way for a smooth segue into Pete’s great cleans over the main rhythm, before we hit the chorus with an aural onslaught of metal; an absolutely devastatingly heavy and meaty riff combined with Pete’s shrieks of ‘take it on the chin’ seem almost a bit of advice from the lead-man to his listener, because, as he says, ‘that’s showbiz.’
As a big fan of Chevelle, and specifically from their last album Hunter Eat Hunter, there were some aspects of La Gargola that somewhat derailed the album flow. The aforementioned fifth track shadowed a tune on the opposite end of the spectrum, in One Ocean, and though the track may have been true quality, the placement and sudden change in sound was drastic and jarring. With only one track on here that could be considered “quiet,” in Punchline, there is no such jarring on this album. It’s still a dark track, with an electronic feel to it, and a banjo introducing a new sound for the band; and, with its placement towards the end of the album, it makes for the perfect ‘calm before the storm’ moment, as it’s followed by two tracks in the unrelenting Got Burned and the eight minute slow burn epic Shot by a Cannon that complete the devastation of this album.
Make no mistake about it; this is by far the heaviest album of Chevelle’s career; it is simply uncanny to believe that a band that has been around since the height of nu-metal can not only stay relevant, but virtually destroy any and all comparable bands. The meaty, chunky, distorted riffage of Pete Loeffler, coupled with his ever improving vocals, along with the sometimes complex, yet always dirty groove of Bernardini, and the pounding, unrelenting, double bass of the other Loeffler brother; it’s all here. Heavier than ever before, Chevelle didn’t need this album to cement themselves as one of the premier hard rock/heavy metal bands going today. And yet, here it is for the world to enjoy. And enjoy it you shall, because, even though in three years, somehow, someway, they may top it, this, my friends, is Chevelle at their peak.