Album review originally appeared in the Hindu Metroplus in January 2012.
Chevelle – Hats Off To The Bull (Epic Records) 2011
For every record put out by alternative metal band Chevelle, there is usually a response of awe and surprise evoked by the fact that three individuals can create music that cannot be considered empty or wasted for even a single second.
The post-grunge tinge to their latest offering ‘Hats Off To The Bull’ would make anyone think that these were just eleven tracks ready for continuous radio airplay. Fortunately, Chevelle are only known to have use that approach with their lead single (and album opener) ‘Face to the Floor’, with the rest of the tracks having to speak for themselves.
Most fans who want to listen to a happier, more infectious version of progressive rock band Tool would recommend Chevelle, and ‘Ruse’ exemplifies that, and still sounds fresh and original.
Hard-hitting lyrics with a tone of anger are vocalist and guitarist Pete Loeffler’s thing. ‘The Meddler’ is another lyrical gem in which Pete has an angry realisation: “Well I don’t belong here/ don’t fit your style, Felt your left foot/ now meet my right.”
‘Piñata’ is blistering from start to finish with Sam Loeffler pounding the drum kit while his brother Pete shreds out. Probably the heaviest song on the album about the band’s best-explored subject – betrayal: “I lost my curious side/ to follow you, to a bed of angels. Count out this wandering eye/ Well lucky you/ the devil made you look”.
While the title track ‘Hats Off to the Bull’ meets all expectations of featuring a big, catchy chorus, ‘Envy’ shows the experimental side to the band. A steady song, that builds up to classic Chevelle riffs towards the end.
Themes get darker and amazing soundscapes fill the ears with the every refrain on tracks such as ‘Revenge’, and the acoustic song ‘Prima Donna’. Pete’s delivery was raw on their earliest acoustic attempt ‘One Lonely Visitor’ from ‘Wonder What’s Next’ in 2002, but here he seems to have ambient sounds and slightly modulated vocals helping him for dramatic effect.
They snap listeners out of the drama with the proclamation that is ‘Clones’, which is ordered last on the album. There is nothing atypical in this track.
‘Hats Off To The Bull’ is not as heavy as their previous two efforts, but certainly remains non-derivative in any way. It’s punchy, but leans towards the alternative more than the metal.