Chevelle’s North Corridor

It’s no secret I’m a HUGE fan of Chevelle.  I follow the trio religiously on Twitter and FaceBook, have every song I can get my grubby little hands on including cassettes.  I bought a PRS guitar because of Pete (dammit he uses a Fender now) and have studied his pedalboard to come up with my own nearly identical version.  If only I could play guitar half as good as Pete… I have fun trying.  My oldest son plays bass and studies Dean religiously and my youngest son plays drums, who unfortunately is going through his Green Day phase, which we all go through and admittedly I like Green Day too, but we’re hoping we have our future Sam soon.

I’ve seen Chevelle live no less than half a dozen times in the St. Louis area and I’m giddy every time I go.  Admittedly, my favorite concert was at The Pageant when I took my son (also his favorite band) for his very first concert to see Chevelle, and they never disappoint – Best.  Forfeit.  Ever.  And the live version of The Red is hands down my favorite, although my favorite song of the entire Chevelle catalog has to be The Clincher.

So it might go to say I was little excited when The North Corridor was released.  So excited I proudly contributed to crashing Chevelle’s site placing my pre-order.  In fact the order was placed twice, which I tried to correct after the fact, but Chevelle sent me BOTH orders and a refund of the one order.  Their dedication to their fans is just awesome!  Thank you Chevelle!

One of the things I love about Chevelle is the first song on every album sounds like it was written to be there.  It’s Chevelle’s greeting and one of their calling cards that says wake the fuck up, you’re listening to Chevelle; “are you up for anything.”  It’s when you press play and listen to the song for the first time and go holy shit, this is gonna be awesome!  As a fan I look forward to this moment every time and Door to Door Cannibals doesn’t disappoint.  It’s probably my favorite song on the album and makes a hell of statement of what this album is going to be like right out of the gate.  This album’s gonna be heavy, we’re gonna shove it down your throat, and you’re gonna like it!  Yes!

Having been one who’s tried to contribute to Chevelle’s Wikipedia page in the past and gotten rejected for not been ‘encyclopedic’ – my middle finger to Walter Gorlitz – I liked Enemies more for the message, but it took me a few measures into the song to like the music too, and then a few more listens to learn to really enjoy it.

Joyride (Omen) is the lead single and the charts tell the story how awesome this song is.  If you like heavy rock music, you love this song.

Rivers ranks right up there with Cannibals to me.  I just like Pete’s screaming on this one and it’s what I feel, is the closest we get to emotion on the album (more on that later).

Last Days is my son’s favorite song on the album because Dean’s all over the place with the bass, in a hella awesome way.  In fact my son has this song rehearsed and ready to to play at any given moment.  This is another one where I just like Pete’s screaming.

Oddly enough, Young Wicked is my 6-year-old daughter’s favorite song, which we listened to on repeat in the van on our vacation West for two weeks at the end of July.  So this one’s firmly engraved in my whole family’s head, which is fun to watch my wife roll her eyes every time we play it.  I think my 6-year-old likes it because of the kids singing in the background toward the end of the song, but that’s aside from the fact the song’s kinda sticky and will play in your head all day, which is a good thing.

I love Warhol’s Showbiz because I want to scream “cuz that’s showbiz” after each and every time I listen to it.

To all the people that keep saying Punchline sounds like Tool, just stop.  What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard.  At no point in your rambling incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.  Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.  I’ve listened to and picked through every Tool album as a Tool fan and there is nothing, not a damn thing that even resembles a common similarity between the bands in this song.  You’re neither a Tool fan or Chevelle fan if you think otherwise.  This probably won’t be anyone’s favorite song on the album, but it’s a nice darker, slower change of pace song that keeps the album moving.

Got Burned picks up the pace again before leading into Shot from a Cannon to close the album off, but in a very “I’m tired of banging my head, but I love this shit so damn much I’ve got one more in me” kinda way.

A Miracle is a bonus track in the end and I love it.  For some odd reason though, every time I listen to it I want to dub Duran, Duran’s Come Undone over the top of it, which doesn’t make me think any less of the song, but that song always pops in my head every time this track plays.

Overall, the album is excellent!  Only if you’re a die hard Chevelle fan is there a core missing component.

One of Chevelle’s (maybe just Pete’s?) calling cards is the ability to identify with emotion; slowly pull the emotion out of you and then come to a moment when all your guts are on the floor and you can dance on top of your emotion for a few moments before the song’s over and you have to put it away so you can do it again.  It’s a great feeling… a unique and personal rage, that I believe is what Chevelle fans connect with and yearn for.  For all the people who compare Tool to Chevelle I think this is hands down the defining difference.  Tool is very much a musical experience; Chevelle is both musical AND emotional.  And although to me Chevelle sounds very different than Tool, The North Corridor is Chevelle’s first solely musical album.  This isn’t a bad thing, but listening to this album I miss that emotional connection that drives me to want to listen to the song again, so I can get the same feeling again and again.  The screaming used to serve a purpose – an emotional climax if you will – and in The North Corridor it’s just not there.  It’s kind of like a roller coaster at a theme park, you kinda get that “this is awesome feeling” the first time and then it fizzles out because you’ve already done it once, then twice, etc.  Chevelle kinda pushes this album as a return to their “roots” and I kinda disagree.  They’re almost there, but let’s skip Point #1 and if you listen to Family System, Comfortable Liar, The Red, Forfeit, Grab Thy Hand, etc., we’re meant to wait for the rage during the song’s buildup until the perfect moment to release.  This Type of Thinking, Vena Sera and Sci-Fi build on that formula.  I wouldn’t say that formula is lost, as we saw in La Gargola’s An Island, Take Out the Gunman and Hunter Eats Hunter, but it’s certainly evolved over the years; to the point where The North Corridor has nearly abandoned that formula.  I hope in a future album Chevelle can give us an album as heavy as The North Corridor with the emotion of past albums that we all know only Chevelle can deliver.

Although I don’t think this is Chevelle’s best album, I put it in the top 4.  A solid four out of five stars from me.  And I couldn’t be happier Chevelle’s still cranking out tunes after all these years and hasn’t sold out like many of my other used-to-be favorite bands of the past.  Can’t wait for the next album.

Rick

Professional firefighter since 2008 and web developer since 1999. Husband, father, musician, writer, Scouter... I'm the swiss-army geek in your back pocket.

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