To the untrained listener, the genre known as HEAVY METAL can be a worrying, confusing place.
A place full of grunting and shouting, awash with drums that seem solely designed to make soft delicate ear flesh weep in pain, and chock full of high pitched guitar solos – often utilising audio frequencies that can only be truly appreciated by dogs and wolves … and these threaten to go on-and-on until the end of time.
To make things even more tricky, if you accidentally mix up your metal sub-genres, say, innocently mistaking a Viking metal track for a piece of melodic death metal, you risk serious tutting and hoots of derision from those in the know about your lack of musical insight. Yes, to be a true metal fan you need ears of a hardy constitution and a Masters Degree in Applied Audio Pedantry Studies.
So where do American outfit Chevelle fit in the crazy, topsy turvy world of HEAVY METAL?
More importantly, is their new upcoming single Hunter Eats Hunter any good?
Formed in Illinois in 1995, Chevelle were originally a trio of brothers (Pete, Sam and Joe Loeffler). Due to their clean livin’ ways and affiliation with old-time-religion-disguised-as-rock-record-label, Squint, their early career was dogged by rumours that they were actually a Christian metal act in disguise; a genre so, so wrong, it’s plain awfulness is surely one of the few things God and The Devil would be in agreement about.
To compound the Christian metal controversy further, It’s said that if you play the last track on the vinyl version of their debut album, Point #1, backwards, it’s a note and word perfect rendition of All Things Bright and Beautiful. This of course has always been denied by the band…
In an effort to shrug off the Christian metal tag, Chevelle had a full-on Gallagher Brothers-esque spat in 2004, getting rid of younger sibling, Joe, for the heinous rock crime of, wait for it……. being late for a few gigs and having doubts about whether he wanted to be in the band. Sadly, no hookers/drugs/Red Snapper usage* to see here folks…
Fast forward to 2014, and it would seem that in America at least, Chevelle are now established non-secular, alt-metal royalty. With Millions of record sales behind them and a US Billboard top 5 entry for their latest album, La Gárgola, it would seem bland band disagreements and toe dips into the world of Christ rock are behind them. Next step. Total. World. Domination.
To this end, Chevelle are soon to tour the UK and have a new single, Hunter Eats Hunter, prepped to lead the charge in an effort to capture the hearts and ears of UK metalateers.
Hunter Eats Hunter actually has all the components in place to make it a big roaring alt-metal anthem, it just – to paraphrase Eric Morecombe – seems to have them in the wrong order. Drums smash. Guitars provide the prerequisite amounts of Sturm und Drang and vocals rasp like the death rattle of a lifelong smoker, but the combination just seems flat and, dare I say it, boring.
Alt-metal can be many things, but if it’s not making you feel like you’ve stuck your head in a pot of boiling molasses while bees sting your bare bottom, it’s doing something wrong.
You only have to compare Hunter Eats Hunter to pretty much anything the mighty Tool has ever produced to realise that this is the aural equivalent of a weak lager shandy.
I suspect non rock lovers will find that Hunter Eats Hunter isn’t really their cup of tea, and couldn’t tell if it’s war, crust or indeed sludge metal if their lives depended on it.
For those with ears attuned to hear the nuance within the noise, Chevelle’s new single is probably going to be a bit of a disappointment too, and probably won’t do too much to raise their stock amongst UK metal aficionados.
*For some truly horrific tales of Red Snapper use, check out Stephen Davis’s Led Zep biography Hammer of the Gods.
Words: © Stephen Murphy 2014
Hunter Eats Hunter is released on 20/10/14 through Epic Records
Chevelle tour the UK in October 2014
26/10/14 – Manchester Academy 3
27/10/14 – Birmingham O2 Academy 2
28/10/14 – London Electric Ballroom