Written By: Tim Bannock
Label: Epic Records – Rating:
After five records, several impressive hits on the mainstream rock charts (including #1 for “Send the Pain Below” and “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)”), and a very-close-to-stable rock trio lineup, Chevelle’s newest release probably should have either been the experimental one, or the one in which everyone calls them “predictable.” When it comes to a dynamic band like Chevelle, however, neither of those is the case. “Sci-Fi Crimes” stays dead-on the same track as the previous albums, but shows that the band is becoming an even more solid unit, with each of the band members able to shine on their own or work together to create the crushing crescendo’s that Chevelle is known for.
For the production nerds among us (you know who you are), this album sounds absolutely brilliant. The production – handled by Brian Virtue and co-produced by Chevelle themselves – is incredibly huge for a three-piece band. There’s nothing lost in the background, even as the band reaches an anthemic, crashing walls of sound in their songs; even the quiet parts are filled with crystal-clear melodies and low, rumbling bass lines. As always, Chevelle’s music is slickly-produced and presented in super-sharp sound that audiophiles can enjoy.
The first thing to note is that Chevelle has retained their style, but have greatly improved upon their songwriting and their dynamic sound. Album opener “Sleep Apnea” kicks in with a great rock anthem-style riff, but suddenly bursts into a melodic thrash riff, complete with double-kick pedal-action to pick up the pace. Like much of the album, there is a sort of frustration or ferocity that seems to seethe right under the surface of most of the songs, unleashing at the end of several tracks in a raging, melodic chorus at the end (check out single “Jars” and “Roswell’s Spell,” which also features a grinding, Sabbathesque riff that could put most stoner rock bands in their place). “Mexican Sun” and “Fell Into Your Shoes” feature some of Pete Loeffler’s best singing to date, while “Shameful Metaphors” sports thundering, distorted bass rhythms and album closer “This Circus” ends with a hammering drum outro. Clearly, every member of the band is showcased in full on “Sci-Fi Crimes.”
If there’s anything that comes out of left field on this album, it’s really “Highland’s Apparition,” a great acoustic number where the production really captures the guitar as if you are right there, able to feel the resonance of each individual string. While this reviewer is not one to pay much attention to lyrics, this song features some appropriately haunting words, sung in a way that reminds one of being told a story of a long lost time.
If there’s anything that detracts from this album, it’s “Interlewd,” a meandering instrumental that’s got a neat feel to it, but ends before it really gets off the ground. Yet, that’s the only bad thing to be said about “Sci-Fi Crimes.” The rest of the album is just beautifully produced melodic rock, with moments of thrashing rage, seething ferocity, welling sorrow, and above all, Chevelle’s trademarked catchy choruses. The songs flow as smooth as silk from riff to riff, and the rhythm pounds away and drives it ever forward. Chevelle have crafted yet another memorable album, and leave fans ready to devour whatever they put out next.