La Gargola review by Chevelle

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  • Released: Apr 1, 2014
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (49 votes)
Chevelle: La Gargola
2

Sound — 9
Chevelle formed in 1995 as a trio of brothers and while there has been a single lineup change since they formed, you still have 2 out of 3 of the brothers joined by their brother-in-law, Dean Bernardini, on bass guitar since 2005. I just realized that this marks more albums being released with the current lineup than with their original lineup with brother, Joe Loeffler, who left or was fired depending on who you ask and when you asked them. "La Gárgola" is being released on Epic, and contains 10 tracks with a total runtime of over 47 minutes; the shortest track on the album is just under 4 minutes. "Take Out the Gunman" was released as the first single from the album in early February 2014.  

The opening track is "Ouija Board" which is carried by a groove-saturated riff. This track also has their bassist, Dean Bernardini, guesting on drums for this one track. "An Island" is next up, which does open up with a Tool-esque riff, which brings to mind Chevelle's tendency to sound like Tool, but later in the track they do pull back from that abyss. Next is their single from the album, "Take Out the Gunman," which has a really cool intro - when the drums first come in it had won me over and there was little the track could do wrong from there. "Jawbreaker" is an interesting track, with an almost NIN feel to it at places, but Chevelle has got a lot better at "owning" their music and putting their own stamp on it. "Hunter Eats Hunter" has a twisty little riff in the intro on guitar but when the drums come in and it gets heavy it goes back to the sweet spot of groove. "One Ocean" opens up with some serious reverb on the guitar and the bassline holding the track together. "One Ocean" has a lot more space in it than some of their material, and sounds like they took a little inspiration from The Cure to my ears. "Choking Game" is a faster track, which almost doesn't sound like it belongs as the rest of the album is much more mid-tempo or slower, but after a few listens it began to grow on me. "The Damned" has a driving bassline, an interesting little riff on guitar, and a very interesting passage in the middle that helps tie the track back into the general "vibe" of the rest of the album. "Under the Knife" has a fast groove driving the track forward with some of the most interesting lyrics from the album, to me, personally. The album closes out with the track "Twinge," which welcomes back the over-the-top guitar reverb with a strong groove underneath created by the drums and bass - the entire tapestry of sound creating an awesome ambience for the vocals to rest on. Awesome track for the album to close out on.

Lyrics — 9
Pete Loeffler has a distinct voice, but has a tendency to sing in a way that makes him sound reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan, but he does a lot less of this on "La Gárgola" and lets his own character shine through on the album. The lyrics are strong on the album - they evoke a lot of creepy imagery and have some actual depth to them. As a sample of the lyrics, from the single "Take Out the Gunman": "Awoke when the light/ hit me right in the temple/ felt something cold/ touch my toes as it passed/ might not be the face you'd expect/ but he's clearly insane/ got me pegged in the back/ just need a bit of luck/ get em up/ point the gun at the eyes/ or at the knees/ had to shoot, had to fight/ gonna take out the gunman/ eyes huge, so little left if something/ cracks and clues/ he's crazy as a straw/ why denied, does no one care or nothing/ how, you ask, I ever last so long/ cause I, I went blind, a blinding riot/ he's regretting every word/ those empty lies/ one more tonight, a blinding riot/ as I summon every nerve."

Overall Impression — 9
Honestly, this is one of the strongest efforts I've heard from Chevelle in a while, and it has me excited about their music again. Chevelle's strengths have always been great mid-tempo riffs, ambience and groove and they deliver all three in spades on "La Gárgola." I couldn't find a track I didn't like. If I had to pick one, I would say that at first "Choking Game" didn't seem like it fit with the rest of the album when I listened to it, but after a few more listens it is fitting in a lot better. My favorite tracks would probably be "Take Out the Gunman," "One Ocean," "Twinge" and "Under the Knife." This album was a pleasant surprise for me. I expected it to be good, but nothing special. Instead I found possibly my favorite Chevelle album to date.

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    fras1788
    Chevelle is a great band. You may have thought they didn't make any progress, but maybe they felt they were getting too "poppy" so they decided to sort of revert to Vena Sera sound. I think they're one of the few authentic bands left, and I respect everything they do. If you force yourself to listen to them, I guarantee you will like songs that you didn't the day before.
    sideslick
    The fact that they don't use any post-correction in the studio is something that I've always really admired. The vocals, guitar, bass, and drums are all actual people. No auto-tune, quantization, or anything like that!
    House_Of_Flies
    Great album, one of the first really good albums I've heard this year (not saying other good albums haven't come out, just none that I've given a listen).
    a drummer
    User raring of 4? That's unfortunate, this is an awesome release and probably Chevelle's most rounded/complete sounding album to date.
    Redfinton22
    This is their heaviest record since Vena Sera came out seven years ago. At first I wasn't overly impressed with it, but it's only been a week now and I am totally sucked in. Chevelle are my favorite!!
    Mainer
    I didn't hear Take Out The Gunman when they first released it, but I DID hear Hunter Eats Hunter and loved it! I got this album and listened to it all the way through. I'm diggin' it!
    strictly-diesel
    Interesting, Choking Game might be my favorite song on the album but definitely their best work since Vena Sera
    sideslick
    Seriously! By far my favorite track off of the album. The bridge in-particular was pretty cool. I've always had a thing for funky-triplets over a four-on-the-floor-style drum part. It left me satisfied.
    JSmith38
    After hearing Take out the Gunman and Hunter Eats Hunter prior to release I got myself really over excited. The day of release I went to Best Buy, snagged up a copy, brought it home and sat down to listen to it all the way through. I am having a hard time deciding now if this or Vena Sera is their best. I loved Vena Sera and thought they would never top it. La Gorgola though is just insanely good. Pretty sure the user rating is just people who don't like Chevelle giving it a 1 and moving on without any real reason. This is my favorite album of the year so far (although that won't last with Mastodon, Machine Head, In Flames etc etc etc)
    TwisterAce
    Excellent album! Chevelle have never made a disappointing record, and they seem to genuinely care about their fans.
    thrashriff90
    Hunter eats Hunter was my favorite track. I love the creepy, horror themed vibes oozing from this album.
    sideslick
    Chevelle is the main inspiration for my band. This album only vindicates our choice of inspiration. This really is a great album. Great job Pete, Sam, and Dean! Totally nailed it!
    enjoipenguin
    This album is amazing and i think is their best effort going back to their harder material on Wonder What's Next and broke through going even harder. with Pete's soul reaching yelling and in your face guitar riffs this album will most definitely put hair on your chest!
    mattjamesrenn
    Never heard of them, but I enjoyed those two songs. Might of found another gem for me UG.
    JSmith38
    How old are you? Either you are incredibly young or you never listened to the radio much back in the late 90's early 00's. Welcome to the bandwagon though. Go grab this album and Vena Sera. You will not be disappointed. After that go grab everything else they've done. Very talented dudes.
    RCA1186
    There hasn't been an album I haven't liked from them. I really enjoyed the last two, I don't get why people didn't. This is a really good album as well, my only complaint is the songs feel too long, like they could have been shortened and not lost any substance.
    TOOLeffingTOOL
    I'm so glad someone reaffirmed my thinking about Jawbreaker. I keep hearing MIN basslines in it.
    Firebreather01
    Interesting that so many reviews of this album are positive. On first listen, I was disappointed. To me, this album is missing that melodic side I've come to love from Chevelle. I don't mind them going heavy like they did, but I miss the softer/catchier elements. I'm not going to disown this album right away. I'm too big a fan of these guys to judge how I feel based on first listen. I'll give this one a couple more rotations to hopefully grow on me.
    fras1788
    I definitely agree, this band shines when they want to be "catchy" and I DEFINITELY enjoyed their catchy moments, and who knows maybe their next album will go back to that. Great guys anyway! Glad you're willing to give the album a chance.
    Firebreather01
    Absolutely. Their best mixing of catchy/melodic/heavy are found in WWN and TTOT. And as far as me letting thus album grow on me, so far ouijia board and an island have gotten a bit better to my ears.
    Paroxysm
    Hats Off to the Bull was a disappointing album and I was afraid that was going to be the direction of their music. It was just too soft. But La Gargola is amazing (except I don't like Under the Knife).
    Rockford_rocks
    I'm incredibly disappointed in this one, honestly. They trashed all the melodic progress they made in their last two releases to become some 3edgy5me hard rock band. I don't really think much on this album is unique with the exception of a couple songs. In hindsight, maybe finishing a whole album in a year was a bad decision.
    Slayton101
    I liked it overall, but I will say that the lyrics can get pretty weak at times. There is also a lot of vocal layering on this album and I can't decide if I like it or not. I do enjoy that Chevelle evolves and grows unlike many other bands. I'm giving this album more time, but overall this album is good, not amazing to me.
    vppark2
    Guess Im the only one whos disappointed. Sounds like they stayed with what they had in sound from their last album and continued with that... EDIT: I do really enjoy the opening track though.