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Chevelle - Wonder What’s Next 

Best Nu-Metal Album

The following was originally published in our Artist of the Month section. 

by antiGUY
Before I get into Chevelle’s new album “Wonder What’s Next” and how they came to be artist of the month, I’d like to give you some background on my experience with Chevelle’s music. 

I first heard this band when their debut album, “Point #1” was released by Steve Taylor’s Squint Records. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t exactly blown away by that CD. I liked it but after a few spins it was replaced by other discs in my collection and I quickly forgot all about this band named after a classic car by Chevrolet. 

Fastforward a few months and our Special Features editor, Debbie Seagle, calls me up one night and said she had an extra ticket to Anthrax, who were playing literally down the street from me. She asked me if I wanted to come down and check out the show and help her out by keeping an eye on her photo case while she photographed the bands. My answer, “is the Pope Catholic?” Pass up a chance to see Anthrax, who I hadn’t seen live since ’88 when they opened for KISS?  I was so there! 

That was a pretty busy tour for Anthrax and they had something like four bands on the bill that night.  The opening local band was a laugh riot. It was almost painful watching them use every cheesy cliché in the book for an 80’s style metal band. But the next band was explosive! They charged out and grabbed the audience's full attention and we forgot for 45 minutes who we had actually come to see. The music was metal in the tradition of Biohazard meets Tool.  I was duly impressed and after they finished their set I asked Debbie if she know who they were? She didn’t know, so I asked someone who worked for the theatre and they responded, “Oh that was a band from Chicago called Chevelle”.  Imagine my surprise to hear this, I mean at that point I remembered hearing their album and not being blown away, it appeared like the band that just played was a totally different group! 

So later that night when I got home, I searched for the Chevelle CD and popped it in and low and behold I was able to appreciate for more after witnessing their live assault. However, it still didn’t come close to measuring up to the energy of their live show. But my interested was piqued and their CD started to receive regular rotation in my CD player. 

Fastforward to the Summer of 2002.  I open up my email one morning (ok afternoon) and there is an email from Epic publicity that had a listing of upcoming releases. Scanning the email, I came across a familiar name, Chevelle. According to the email the band had their major label debut “Wonder What’s Next” scheduled for release by Epic in the Fall.  I asked our managing editor if he could ask his contact at Epic to send an advance copy of the CD.  I knew I wanted to write something on them, since the memory of that live show still lingers in my mind and I was curious to hear what kind of changes had overcome the band with their move to a major label. 

Before we continue let's talk about the Sophomore Albums, which are always hit or miss affairs. In some cases, when the band records their debut album, it is the culmination of years of being together and gigging to land the deal, so they had a long time to fine tune their music and know which songs would be best received. Unfortunately for some bands, when it comes time to write music for the follow up CD, they rush to write the material, not having the long period of time to fine tunes the songs and the second album just doesn’t measure up to the debut. 

On the other hand, some bands take a giant leap forward with their second album, utilizing all of the experience gathered from recording and touring behind their debut and the resulting album takes them far beyond where they were with their debut. Once I received an advance of the Chevelle’s new CD, “Wonder What’s Next”, I quickly saw that they fell into the “great leap forward” category.

Frankly, I was amazed at this album, even without comparing it to their debut. This time around Chevelle managed to harness the energy that I had witness during their live performance. Because this album is heavy and modern, some will automatically lump it into the nu-metal category. Not so fast! Yes it is heavy and yes it has certain elements that we have come to expect from “nu-metal” bands but Chevelle also goes far beyond those constraints with songs focused on dynamics not crunch. True, the songs are heavy but they also have a progressive nature, not quite in the territory of Tool but skimming the edges. The most inspiring thing about this album is the songwriting. From start to finish, Chevelle takes the listener on a music journey into different realms, and to be perfectly honest there doesn’t appear to be one weak track on this album. The overall message of the lyrics is positive as well, so this isn't one of those cry baby, "my daddy didn't love me because he didn't spoil me rotten" groups. Each song has it’s own compelling nature that makes it stick in your mind like you’ve been hit in head with a sharp object! In other words, the appeal is hard to ignore and the songs stay with you long after the CD has ended. 

One of the key selling points of this band up until this point has been that it features a trio of brothers. Musical siblings are nothing new in rock. Jjust look at Oasis, The Black Crowes, The Beach Boys, Nickelback... the list goes on. Maybe knowing each other so well, is the magic ingredient that puts it all together for Chevelle. No matter, the bottom line is this band has found something from within that allowed them to create one of the best hard rock albums of the year. So even if Chevelle’s first album didn’t really do it for you, “Wonder What’s Next” has a lot going for it.  It will be hard for Chevelle to top this effort but until we reach that point we can rock to this CD and we won’t need to “Wonder What’s Next” for quite a while. Chevelle is here today! 

Ok I did just spend 90% of this article talking about my personal experience with Chevelle's music. What can I say, it was the only way to make the point that this album hit home and made an impression and with every new exposure to this band's music I have, the more I appreciate what they are doing. You want a to-the-point review of this CD? IT ROCKS! Plain and simple, no need to elaborate on that.  So now that you've read about my experience with Chevelle,  you should go out and check this album out and begin your very own experience with Chevelle's music. Come on what else are you gonna buy? Kenny G? j.lo? What are you still doing here? Run along now before the record store sells out!  Remember the album is called “Wonder What’s Next!” and the band is called Chevelle and the music is "kick ass"! 

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