Hats Off To The Bull Review

artist: Chevelle date: 12/06/2011 category: compact discs
Chevelle: Hats Off To The Bull
Released: Dec 6, 2011
Genre: Alternative Metal, Post-Grunge
Label: Epic
Number Of Tracks: 11
The sixth studio album for alt metal group, Chevelle, "Hats Off To The Bull" is more melodic hard rock that sounds kind of like a happier version of Tool.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 7.8
 Overall Impression: 7.8
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (4) 40 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
Hats Off To The Bull Featured review by: UG Team, on december 06, 2011
3 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sound: In the spring of 2010 it was announced that Pete Loeffler had begun writing new songs for an album to be released in fall of 2011. It ended up being winter instead of fall, but the sixth studio release by Chevelle was finally announced to have a release date for 12/06/2011. The single "Face To The Floor" was released in October and began to get some radio play. The album has eleven tracks and clocks in at just under forty five minutes, which is a respectable length. The song Indifference' is included as a bonus track on iTunes, and the songs "Glimpse Of The Con" and a live version of "Still Running" are included on the Best Buy version of the album. I have the standard edition of the album without any of the bonus tracks, and that is what I will be reviewing.

Chevelle has named Helmet, Tool and The Cure as their main influences which is a pretty weird combination. Listening to this album and trying to hear their influences, it all starts to make sense. The Cure has a much more subtle influence, and seems mostly to have its impact to vocal melody and the few quieter guitar passages on the album. Tool and Helmet are much easier to see with the actual vocal delivery being extremely similar to Maynard's, and the music itself coming off as a hybrid of Helmet and Tool in sound. At the end of the day, they do sound like their own band more than a collection of their influences, but the similarities to Tool sometimes are pretty strong. I keep listening to Chevelle waiting for them to blow my mind. When I discovered them in 2002 or 2003, which was several months after the release of "Wonder What's Next", I was very excited and went back trying to find their first album which I eventually located. Since then I've listened with an enthusiasm that has slowly faded to more of a consistent enjoyment of their music. I would really like to see Chevelle decide they don't have to write music for the radio stations, but until that happens they are still a solid band and this is a solid album.

Regarding the mixing, thought the drums, bass and vocals were great, but often times the guitar seemed much too compressed to me. Riffs are heavy and the songs don't all sound the same, though you do know you're listening to Chevelle throughout the album with the very slight possibility of being thrown off by "Prima Donna". // 7

Lyrics: For me, Pete Loeffler's voice required some getting used to. His voice and vocal delivery are very similar to Maynard, but different enough to be slightly jarring to me. It may be because I'm a Tool fan, as well as Puscifer and A Perfect Circle, and Pete's voice was just similar enough to initially be annoying to me. Like I said, his voice has grown on me and I've really begun to enjoy what he does vocally. The vocals on "Hats Off To The Bull" are delivered powerfully, with good use of dynamics. Pete's use of melody is exceptional when compared to most contemporary bands. The lyrical content finds a good balance between having actual content and still being listener friendly. I think "Clones" is possibly my favorite song from a lyrical standpoint. // 8

Overall Impression: Chevelle's sixth studio album, "Hats Off To The Bull", isn't a breakthrough album. It doesn't really explore new ground as a group but instead relies on the foundation of hard rock, sounding vaguely Tool-esque, which has served them so well in the past. While their sound has stayed consistent, they haven't really become stale or derivative of themselves. There is only so much you can expect from a radio friendly band like Chevelle, and in the range allowed they have created a solid album. The album as a whole was very listenable and at times was really good. Pete Loeffler's vocals have grown on me, and I've come to appreciate what he does. The riffing is nice and the riffs are very heavy.

My favorite song on the album would have to be "Revenge" due to this song is where the band probably sounds their most original with the exception of the bass line which really comes across as an almost clone of a Tool riff. I also enjoyed "Prima Donna" a lot, though it doesn't really sound like Chevelle to me. I've had much more appreciation lately for songs that are acoustic or that would at least sound good as an acoustic track, and "Prima Donna" is a good example of a good rock and roll acoustic track. The track "Clones" also deserves a mention this is an awesome track to close out the album on. I didn't really dislike any of the tracks on Hats Off to the Bull', but again even the tracks that stand out aren't phenomenal. I've got into a rut lately waiting for bands that will be like Led Zeppelin or The Beatles are today, but 20 years from now. So far, I am pretty sure that Trent Reznor, Tool and Jack White have managed to pull off this type of legacy. Chevelle isn't going to make it on this list, which I've been sad about, but I still enjoy their music. Finally, this comes down to would I recommend buying the album? Yes. // 7

- Brandon East (c) 2011

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overall: 7.7
Hats Off To The Bull Reviewed by: natuMzzri, on december 23, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Chevelle has always been a band smart and talented enough to tweak their sound just a little bit each album, while loyally bringing their own consistent style to the rock genre. "Wonder What's Next", their Epic Records debut, featured Pete, Same and Joe Leoffer's chugging, palm-muted, and bass driven riffs coinciding with angst lyrics that made songs like "The Red", "Don't Fake This", and "Send The Pain Below" some of the most renowned by the band. On "This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)", the trio decided to bring more melody to the table, all the while keeping the temper and heaviness plentiful. Pete continued to challenge all those who dared interpret his lyrics while straying away from personal subjects to slightly heavier subjects. From calling out American Idol and the medicine industry to discussing humanitarian aid, Chevelle began to display one of the most gifted lyricists in modern music. Of course some fans, like myself, discovered Chevelle in this era through one of their biggest hits - "The Clincher". In 2007, after a line-up change involving their bassist, the two brothers and brother-in-law released the ever more sarcastic, angry, and aggressive "Vena Sera". Songs like "Antisaint" and "The Fad" explode with bass riffs and Pete's bitter vocals, proving that change can only inspire them further. Arguably their heaviest album to date, screaming, distortion, and feedback are far from sparse, however "I Get It" and "Saferwaters" showed the sanity and uniqueness in Chevelle's all-out fury. The 2009 release "Sci-Fi Crimes" exhibited a loss of that bitterness and rage that they had harnessed over their career. Instead, "Sci-Fi Crimes" explored a lighter, almost comical array of subjects including sleep loss, a haunted house, and theft. To say that it wasn't heavy would be false, but it was no "Vena Sera" or "Wonder What's Next", but rather a subtle attempt at more radio friendly rock included in their natural progression of sound. Now taking into consideration this brief summary of Chevelle's career, one could not predict what they would put out next. Having grazed the thought of a completely acoustic album further deepens the mystery of the Leoffler/Bernardini thought process. But when "Face To The Floor" was debuted, anticipation lessened as the leading single off of "Hats Off To The Bull" provided a sweet reminiscence of both the radio friendliness of "Sci-Fi Crimes" and the gripping riff work of "Wonder What's Next". Just when we thought we were safe to expect a classic Chevelle album, "Same Old Trip" and the title track sent an unforeseen turn in the band's sound. The former is yet another classic Chevelle song, but ends up being the song rumored to feature bassist Dean Bernardini's wife on backing vocals. The title track has an unusually upbeat sound for a Chevelle song, but does bring back the bass that was lost on their previous release. Though I hate comparing them to Tool (besides Pete's vocal style), songs like "Ruse", "Envy", and "Revenge" have obvious influence while still being unique in their own way. Has always swept the edges of being a "mainstream" band, but they have their own creativity that allows them to avoid sharing the same reputation as other mainstream rock bands like Nickelback or Shinedown. The songs "Clones" and "Face To The Floor" have the formula of a typical mainstream rock song by continually repeating the same riff but Chevelle just knows how to do it right. Finally, anyone who bought the Best Buy version of the album could never ignore the bonus track "Glimpse Of The Con". Another acoustic track, the band comes dangerously close to writing a pop rock ballad, yet the beauty of it and the heaviness of Pete's vocals makes it Chevelle's own ballad. // 8

Lyrics: As always, the vocals are the highlight of any Chevelle song. Whether it's a heavy, aggressive song such as "The Meddler", or the Middle-Eastern style acoustic "Prima Donna", Pete Leoffler makes his presence known. His crescendo and half-whispered verses only build up to the forceful choruses that scream sincerity. Sarcasm and the patronizing attitude returns to each song, especially in "Hats Off To The Bull" and "The Meddler" while "Envy" casts a brooding feeling from Pete's harmonized, echoed voice. Of course the aggressiveness of wanting to shove Bernie Maddoff's face to the floor in "Face To The Floor" along with the cussing and subtly sexual references in "Piata" could only complete a Chevelle album. "Clones" gives me the impression of them exposing the fraud of other bands who are only making music for money - ("It's all chemicals, by and large it's not you or your excitement") - while stating that they are sincere - ("But this sadness you saw in us comes honestly from foreign worlds/There's too many muddy feet/It's far too easy counting"). Does anyone else feel a reference to "Panic Prone" there? Overall though, I feel that Pete's lyrics are lacking something in this album. The guy who wrote "I'll ask my curious side to follow you to a bed of angels/can't help this wandering eye/so lucky you/the Devil made you look" (from "Piata") was the same guy who wrote "Visit again white elephant, who sent you to the loom/shall we sever everything/ponder this while we ponder why/he's starting to follow crows/and climbing the ladder somewhere out to/really begin to scare/and plotting to comb the ground with a fine tooth comb" (from "Antisaint"). Pete uses more rhyming in his lyrics which something he's rarely ever done in the past, and to me that's why they stood out against other rock bands. The metaphorical and puzzling lyrics are still there, however, and lyrics in songs such as "The Meddler" ("I don't belong here/don't fit your style/felt your left foot/now meet my right") and "Arise" ("You either fail or you rise/and reach to all the world/right through the needle's eye/come take your first look inside") brag that Pete's still got things to talk about and ways to write about them. // 7

Overall Impression: Now that all the pros have been stated, here is where you get a glimpse of the cons. While other albums contained material that was mainly suited for three people, "Hats Off To The Bull" has layered guitars so songs on the album have solos and harmonization. Personally I think the sound would be fitting if it was for another band, but considering that this is a Chevelle album, having more than one guitar sounds slightly out of place. The bridge on "Hats Off To The Bull" features harmonizing guitars while in "Piata" the guitar solo is played while the rhythm section continues. It's not just the guitars that are layered; in "Revenge" parts of the chorus has three different Pete's singing at once. "Envy" and "Revenge" include an organ as well. All these extra effects sound good, but I feel like it would be hard to perform these songs with the full affect they have on the album. Chevelle songs in the past were generally kept with one guitar, one bass, and the drums, with few exceptions. Quite honestly, that's the only major problem I have with the album. It's a fitting addition to Chevelle's constantly evolving discography and any Chevelle fan should be able to enjoy it. And finally if it went missing I would have to buy the Best Buy version again to get "Glimpse Of The Con". // 8

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overall: 8
Hats Off To The Bull Reviewed by: curtisrocks22, on december 14, 2011
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: I have been a huge Chevelle fan since the beginning of there careers and by now know that this band likes to experiment and alter there sound and genre a little with every new album. With there newest album "Hats Off To The Bull", I must say, I am impressed. They really found a solid sound on this new album using bits and pieces of their sound from Sci-Fi crimes while being able to go back to the roots of there original sounds from "Point #1", "Wonder What's Next", and "This Type Of Thinking". The album starts with an excellent groove from the opening song and first single "Face To The Floor". Then progressing through you can hear the excellent melodies of "Pinata". Ending the album is, maybe my favorite song from the album, "Clones". This song really wraps up what Chevelle is with the heavy, hard hitting grooves with diverse and ranging melodies. // 9

Lyrics: Lyrically I found this album to be pretty good. Pete is an excellent lyricist and can really make lyrics to match the guitar tones behind them. In "Pinata" and "Ruse" I found maybe some of the best lyrics I have ever seen from Chevelle, but with songs such as "Same Old Trip" and "The Meddler" I found the lyrics to be a bit more shady. Over all the lyrics were all meaningful and relatable. // 7

Overall Impression: Overall I thought this album was great. I would recommend everyone to buy it. By no means is it the greatest thing I have ever heard and maybe not the greatest thing I have ever heard from Chevelle, but its new and its exciting. Buying this album expect to get your moneys worth and a nice solid forty five minutes or so worth of music. // 8

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overall: 8.3
Hats Off To The Bull Reviewed by: project.mayhem, on january 11, 2012
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Hats off to Chevelle for putting together a rock album that is far above average. The "rock" illustration fits nicely, too, because "Hats Off To The Bull" is solid and monochromatic. Chevelle's formula is simple: fuzzy guitars, nicely audible bass, ordinary drumming, and the vocalist's unique tones. This is the recipe for their secret sauce, which they unashamedly slather all over this record. Everything tastes the same because the "sauce" overwhelms the palate, but you will still appreciate the tang. Chevelle knows their audience's flavor profile and they cook up the goods. // 8

Lyrics: Vocalist Peter Loeffler, whose upper-register wail is the band's signature, takes the "less is more" approach. His great screams and sexy falsettos are sparingly sprinkled throughout the tracks. What a shame these underutilized nuggets are hella tasty. Lame foodie references aside, the lyrical themes aren't anything special. Most modern rock bands delve into the same subject matter. "You're a liar, I don't like you, and I'm going to kick your ass because you hurt me." However, Chevelle deserves big props for articulating their message in a different way. Stimulating vocal rhythms and implied messages inject new life to the same old issues. // 9

Overall Impression: "Hats Off To The Bull" is a lot like eating your favorite meal. Even though it would be the same damned thing over and over again, you'd still consume it every single day and enjoy it just the same. "Hats Off To The Bull" is appetizing from beginning to end. // 8

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