Chevelle broke into public consciousness with their disquieting video for "Mia", a video that bears an almost plagiaristic likeness to the video Adam Jones created for Tool. The similarities don't end there as this band is evidently very influenced by bands such as Tool and Helmet as shown by their mastery of dynamics. Lyrically Chevelle is a bit lighter than Tool, offering a few glimmers of hope in an otherwise dark world of hopelessness. Expect to take more than a few casual listens to decipher the visceral word pictures contained within. The music is heavy, dark and aggressive, combining delicate interludes with abrupt blasts of distorted guitars and noise. Their first single, "Mia", opens with a scant, rubbery riff that quickly opens into a fast-paced song about finding fulfillment and is easily the best song on the album. Other songs such as "Open" and "Blank Earth" continue in their vein of heavy riffing that breaks for the soft, vulnerable vocals of Pete Loeffler. My big beef with this CD is that there seems to be a lot of plain old guitar riffing, and most of these riffs use the same rhythms, making for an overall bland forty-two minutes despite the changes in dynamics and lyrical creativity. On the positive side, this Chicago-based band is comprised of three brothers who apparently can read each other's minds because this band is TIGHT. "Long" is a prime example as the band steamrolls soft passages into walls of sound, all bathed in the emotive vocals of Pete. This perfection may be due in part to the hand of Steve Albini in the recording. The drums are crystal clear, the guitars thick, and the bass wonderfully woven into each mix. I expect that if as much attention had been paid to the writing of the songs as was spent in practicing and producing them, this would have been a phenomenal debut album. As it stands, everything works excepts the songs themselves and even the most skilled studio guru can't fix such an Achilles heel.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, June 2001.