The North Corridor review by Chevelle

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  • Released: Jul 8, 2016
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.1 (23 votes)
Chevelle: The North Corridor
2

Sound — 8
Chevelle burst onto the music scene around the same time that nu-metal was making its waves on MTV and the radio, and is a band that's far too easy to lump in with their contemporaries like Korn and Limp Bizkit, simply for being in the right place at the right time. But listening to their music reveals that there's far less influence from those groups as there was from one of the pioneering bands in the alternative metal scene at the time: Tool. With muscular drop-tuned riffs, a very melodic Maynard James Keenan-esque vocal, pounding drums and groovy bass, the band seems to have been the most successful Tool clone out there, and very little has changed about the band since their debut, "Point #1."

Brothers Pete (vocals/guitar) and Sam (drums) Loeffler, along with Dean Bernardini (bass) crash through tracks like "Door to Door Cannibals" and "Enemies" with a lot of intensity and energy. "Joyride (Omen)" still packs a lot of intensity, but the band does find some breathing room and space for groove. These tracks, the three opening songs, set the tone for the rest of the record, with very little being heavier or softer than these.

The Tool comparison may get a little tired after a while, but it's very hard to deny the influence on Chevelle, even this far into their career, with many of the tracks sounding like they could have fit onto Tool's first two records with ease. But while Tool focused more on atmosphere and some semblance of musical complexity, Chevelle opts for a bit more of a song-oriented radio-friendly approach. That's not to say this album is full of big choruses and cheesy antics, with many of the songs lacking any real verse-chorus structure and still a lot of cool wah-inflected guitar "solos," which are really just single notes being tremolo picked, filling up the record (though there's a particularly good solo on "Young Wicked" that sounds more "traditional"). There's even a brief flirtation with weird meter in "Last Days" (the bass riff opens the song in 9/8 time). But the individual songs on this record are much easier to digest than any Tool record, with only album closer "Shot With a Cannon" exceeding the five-and-a-half minute mark.

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There are a couple of breaks in the formula on the record, to keep things interesting. "Punchline" is a near-electronic piece with a sort of creepy atmosphere about it, perhaps a bit reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, but with Chevelle's trademark melodicisms all over it. "Got Burned" has a cool sort of major-key vocal line in the chorus that just sounds kind of cool and upbeat to me. "Shot From a Cannon" is an eight-minute behemoth of a track with a very sludgy, slow groove that plods along through the journey, and actually does give the album a slightly progressive flavour.

The production is clean and crisp, everything sounds right as it should, as would be expected from a band of Chevelle's tenure. The guitar tone is quite excellent on this record. The bass tone has some excellent moments as well, such as the album closer, and the intro of "Got Burned." No complaints there.

Lyrics — 7
There seem to be a lot of the same metal lyric cliches from album to album nowadays, and if you're hoping Chevelle has gone beyond those and presented us with fresh new lyrical content... I hate to disappoint you, but the lyrics on this record cover the usual topics: anti-religious sentiments ("Door to Door Cannibals"), the pitfalls of technology (mentioned in "Enemies"), personal demons ("Got Burned," "Shot From a Cannon"), and pretty much just word salad that doesn't seem to mean anything at first glance (pretty much the rest of the album). All in all, pretty standard metal lyrics in this day and age, and a far cry from the comparisons to other bands made in the previous section. Nothing wrong with any of the lyrics on the record, but they're nothing special, either.

Vocally, Pete Loeffler sounds as MJK-ish as possible much of the time, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as he shows a great deal of vocal versatility as well, from gentle singing (such as on "Rivers") to full on screams (as in many of the songs on the record). He's got a great tone at both extremes of his vocal range, and that kind of consistency is hard to find in a lot of metal vocalists these days.

Overall Impression — 8
With Tool fans all over the world waiting for a new record and eating up every piece of news coming at them, there are plenty of bands carrying their torch that may go unnoticed, running the gamut from bands like Chevelle to more unknown groups like Soen, and Chevelle has managed to put out a good record that harks back to the early days of the whole movement that bands like Tool helped to create, and if you're looking for an album to whet your appetite for good alternative metal, this could be an album that satiates you. On its own merits, it's also a pretty good record, with lots of good meaty guitar riffs, attention-grabbing atmospheres, and solid grooves. If this is a band you've passed on for years because of their connection to the nu-metal scene, you might want to give this album a chance, and you might find yourself enjoying it.

It's a pretty good record, and definitely one of the best alternative metal albums released in 2016 so far. I'd easily recommend this album to anyone who's a fan of the genre.

36 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nzhead
    Chevelle was always a bit of guilty pleasure for me - I was almost a little embarrassed that I liked them in the early days. I thought up to and including This "Type of Thinking" they were pretty generic and boring with some good, and some ok songs. I thought they turned a corner on Vena Sera and truly developed their own sound and they honed that further on Sci-Fi Crimes and I thoroughly enjoyed Hats Off and La Gargola. They won't win any awards for originality or technicality (not that is everything) but they are solid and you know what you get - a good album to drive to haha. Not my favourite from them but enjoyable none the less...
    strictly-diesel
    Don't know why they get so many Tool comparisons they sound more like Helmet
    travislausch
    To be honest, I've heard very little Helmet, and maybe they do sound more like Helmet, but with my basis of comparison being what I know, I still have to go with Tool. And there are some obvious connections. Both Adam Jones and Pete Loeffler love their wah "solos", and the vocal styles between the bands are very similar.
    BassFishin
    I hear bits of Tool, sometimes. But it's really only bits, I wouldn't call it an obvious similarity by any means. Hell, if nothing else Chevelle rarely experiments outside of 4/4.
    AC0RN
    Good review except for the Tool comparisons. It's fine once but like come on, this is their 8th album. Tool hasn't released any new music in ages, at this point when they do release an album they'll be 'ripping off' Chevelle. And door to door cannibals is one of their best songs!!
    JSmith38
    Might want to fix the review. Sam plays drums, Dean plays bass. Dean does play the drums but I think the only track he recorded drums for was on La Gorgola.
    travislausch
    Shit, you're right. I even double-checked the lineup as I was writing it and completely forgot it while I was typing it up. Good find! Unfortunately, I don't have the capability of editing my team reviews.
    leo4sf
    The words Tool and Chevelle are both written 9 times in the article. I am a fan of both bands and the only similarity I can find is the tone of Pete and MLK's voice. The riffs and song structure bear almost no resemblance, and even the vocal delivery is very different. To compare the two bands so closely is an insult to both bands. My guess is your average Tool fan is not a Chevelle fan, and vice versa.
    jbird2246
    I actually think this album is pretty solid. Better then La Gargola but thats just my 'opinion' lol. Can't always knock them out of the park. But this albums cool.
    mikesocarras
    these guys always put out good riffs. Good riffs dont have to be technical and technical riffs aren't necessarily good. The reason guitar players think this way is because its boring to play sometimes but it doesnt mean its a bad riff. if you play it with a whole band in a live setting all of these riffs would be fun. but us guitarists always want something really technical because its FUN to play and a challenge. I always love me a chevelle riff as well as very technical riff. enjoying Joyride' so far...
    an.interloper
    I've been a Chevelle fan since Point #1 when Pete was just starting to get a handle on his vocals, all the way through the up and down ride that was La Gargola, but I can honestly say that this is the first album they've ever put out that I don't care for. That's not to say it's a 'bad' album, but it was just bland to me overall.
    BassFishin
    I listened to the whole thing and I don't really remember anything from it. By comparison, I was hooked on "Jawbreaker" the first time I listened to La Gargola.
    AlbertCamus
    Really? I think it's way better than Hats Off to the Bull, and probably Vena Sera too. As a fellow longtime Chevelle fan, I recommend giving it another chance.
    GoToSleep
    I like the overall direction they went in for this album. It's a bit more direct and less melodic than their previous albums. I've seen a lot of people complain about this because their usual catchy and melodic choruses are basically gone this time around. But it's got a different sound going on and actually has quite a bit more experimentation than I'm normally used to hearing. Like Punchline, what a cool song.
    RCA1186
    Chevelle has to be one of, if not my favorite band. You pretty much can expect an enjoyable good album on every release. That being said, this one is just "pretty good" in my opinion. It is a good album, but not a whole lot stands out from it really. The songs all sound pretty much the same (excluding say punchline and the bonus track). I do really enjoy "Got Burned" though. Good album, definitely not their best though.
    tied_in_bronze_chains
    I don't think this band has ever written a a decent riff, and nothing vhanges with this release.
    BwareDWare94
    Sometimes people have opinions, and sometimes people are wrong but hide behind the term opinion. You fit into the latter group.
    vppark2
    Nothing overly technical, and stuff I can play by ear, but they're not bad.
    travislausch
    Decent riff =/= hard riff, though there are plenty of awful technical riffs too. Thing is, I think these guys do pretty decent riffs. No law saying you have to agree with me, though Thanks for the input (from everyone)!
    curmudgeon5462
    Define "decent riff" then. I'd say bands like Deftones, Chevelle, and Will Haven have some of the best in the business. They make the hair on my neck stand up. Can't say the same for thrashy bands who focus too much on speed and complexity.
    thebigal
    I'm a massive Chevelle fan. This is an an OK album but not up to the standard of "this type of thinking" or "La gargola". Years on I still cant stop listening to still running, get some and the clincher.
    Patrijz
    I really liked Chevelle once. But the formula is the same for 80% percent of their songs. Here you have a simple, but nice, riff and let's keep repeating this over and over and over till you don't like it anymore and let's do this for almost every song on the album! Then I hear people say they've made progress and developed their sound. Well, it must be me then... (Which could very well be the case, just saying)
    JimBonJovi
    Joe Barresi's production is superb on this one. This is the first Chevelle album I've actually gotten into and thoroughly enjoyed.