I’ve been contemplating on what to do with certain things as of late in regards to Audioeclectica. I have a giant list of things I want to do and bunch of new topics on the way. The radio show will be making a return soon. I finally found the right person to do the show with. It’s going to be awesome and the playlist for the show is superb. In the meantime before all that happens, I thought it would be quite fun to start putting out playlists for you all to enjoy! So, what you have below is a link to the first Audioeclectica Playlist. On it you’ll find new music by artists/bands you know of and some you might not. If you’ve been keeping up with the articles on Audioeclectica, you will probably recognize a good amount of the bands. So, without anymore delay, here it is!!!
Consistency in rock music is very important. A band can deviate and experiment all they want but, as long as the album or songs don’t stray too far off path their career longevity will for sure continue. Which in the case of Chevelle, consistency is one of the best words to describe them. Since their inception, each album they’ve released has been a solid rock album after another. Some have seen the band try new things and add different elements but, through and through, they’ve always delivered a solid piece of work. So, it’s no surprise that on their new album, NIRATIAS (Nothing Is Real This Is A Simulation), the band stretched their wings a bit more and fully embraced their past, present, and future on this one.
It’s a little strange to start the album off with an instrumental but, “Verruckt” is one hell of a way to start this one off. The hard charging riffs and rhythms are the perfect guide to take you to the absolute banger that is “So Long, Mother Earth.” That track needs to be a single and added to the setlist. Then “Mars Simula” hits you again and there’s nothing left to do but, turn the volume up even more. “Self Destructor” was the first single released and it’s still one hell of a track. It’s very classic “Chevelle” with a bit more of a melodic palette. “Piistol Star (Gravity Heals)” is the song Tool should have released on the snooze fest that is Fear Innoculum. This track is very heavy on the Tool influence but, it’s done in a very tasteful way that makes you wish Tool would write songs like this. “Peach” is another banger of a song and one that will and should be a live staple for years to come. “Endlessly” is an absolute standout on this album. The songwriting on this song is impeccable. Definitely pay close attention to this one. “Remember When” is another hot track on the album with great riffs and a crushing rhythm. “Ghost and Razor” is one of my favorite songs on the album. This track is so damn good. I’m not going to say anything else about this one, just listen to it! Closing out the album is the ambient/piano drive spoken word track “Lost In The Digital Woods.” This is an eerie one but, interesting. It’s a culmination of all the thematic elements that were touched upon through the lyrics and it’s a nice little coda to end things on.
NIRATIAS is one hell of a great heavy rock album. It’s got all the right parts to make this a stand out in the band’s catalog. The underlying conceptual elements on the album make the listening experience quite enjoyable. The interludes help carry the songs over and gives you a moment to reflect on the previous songs. Lyrically this is an expansive album. There’s definitely a science fiction theme to the album with all the mentions of space and time. It makes for an introspective listen and makes you think enough to put the album on again as soon as it’s over. The tones of the instruments and vocals are top notch. Chevelle really found the right producer/engineer in Joe Baressi. His ability to capture the band is astounding. There is something kind of funny about this album too. As I mentioned in the album/song description about Tool, Chevelle has always had a Tool element to their sound. This album does have some straight up moments that are right out of their playbook but, considering how underwhelming the last two Tool albums have been, hearing Chevelle rock go there on certain songs, makes up for that by miles and miles. Chevelle have said too that this is everything they could throw at an album and that it doesn’t do well, they’ll hang up this project for a while. Well, let me tell you, this is one hell of an album and they should be proud of it. It’s definitely one that will be on rotation for a long long while and will be in my top ten at the end of the year.
Overall Rating: A
Chevelle is one of the most under appreciated and underrated bands out there. For over 20 years now, they’ve been one of the most consistent rock bands out there. Now in 2021, Chevelle is gearing up to release their ninth (yes, I said 9th) studio album, Niratias (Out March 5th). The first single and video for “Self Destructor” is out now and it’s a banger for sure. When we can go out and enjoy live music again, I guarantee that when they play this song live, it’s going to kick some major ass.
Chevelle- Self Destructor:
There are bands out there that get a bad rap for no good reason. And the more you really delve into the band’s albums, you realize that said band is quite good and really consistent in releasing quality material. Over the last few years, I’ve personally noticed that the band Chevelle falls into this category of underrated bands. Not only do they release consistently solid albums but, they’ve upped their game on each album. Rather than just stick with a “radio friendly” formula, the three guys in Chevelle, bucked the trend and went on to create what they wanted to.
After their platinum selling second album, Wonder What’s Next, which featured songs like radio staples “The Red” and “Send The Pain Below,” Chevelle realized that they needed to separate themselves from the rest of the bands of that time. Drawing more on their influences of Helmet, Tool, and The Cure, Chevelle managed to carve out their own little niche. Since Wonder What’s Next, Chevelle has been consistent in putting out solid albums. This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In and Vena Sera, are very melodic and heavy. Sci-Fi Crimes is a bit of an experimental album for them, as they were toying around with bits of prog rock in their new tunes.
When they made Hats Off To The Bull, that’s when they really found their sound and style. Working with producer/engineer Joe Baressi, was the best thing they could have done. Joe not only has a great ear for production but also tones, and structures. Hats Off, while, not the band’s best effort, was the push in the right direction. When it came time to work on their follow up, La Gargola, Chevelle made a statement with that album. Not only is it an “album” but it was sonically bombastic and written so well. It was the perfect album at the right time. Not long after, when it was time to go back in the studio, Chevelle upped the ante by writing their heaviest album to date, The North Corridor. This album is 10 songs of unrelenting syncopated rhythms and a darker tone.
Chevelle are the type of band that deserves the recognition of being one of the best heavy rock bands since the turn of the century. Their catalog represents that as does their live show. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them in different times of their career, and they have never disappointed. One other thing that makes Chevelle such an underrated band is that they are a great band to recommend to someone that is wanting to get into heavier music but, doesn’t want it to be “too heavy.” Chevelle is and will always be a melodic heavy rock band, and they do it so well.
Give them a chance if you haven’t before. You’ll be surprised at what you missed out on.
Wonder What’s Next:
This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In:
Hats Off To The Bull:
The North Corridor:
I’ve always been intrigued by bands that have 3 or less members. Sure some of them when they play live add members to fill out their sound, but the core remains those three people. So with that in mind here is a list of the best three piece bands. Note This list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Jimi Hendrix Experience
High On Fire
Crosby, Stills & Nash
The Police (Even though Sting is a douche)
Chevelle has been been one of the most consistent rock bands to come around since their successful album Wonder What’s Next. Throughout their career they have have pretty much stuck to their guns and charged ahead putting out solid rock albums. Here is a ranking of their albums from not their best to their best.
Hats Off To The Bull:
The North Corridor:
This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In:
Wonder What’s Next:
This is not part of the 1st annual Audioeclectica Awards. This is just a list of the top 10 concerts I’ve attended this year.
1. Nine Inch Nails @ Hollywood Bowl
2. Failure @ El Rey and Fonda
3. Abloom and With Our Arms To The Sun @ Velvet Jones
4. Corrections House and Author & Punisher @ Echoplex
5. Mastodon @ Club Nokia
6. Royal Blood and The Last Internationale @ Roxy
7. Chevelle and Black Map @ Wiltern
8. Palms @ Troubadour
9. Down @ Wiltern
10. Placebo @ Club Nokia
This weeks top 10 songs to enjoy
1. Abloom- After That Quiet (from Abloom Demos)
2. Chevelle- An Island (from La Gargola)
3. Failure- Daylight (from Fantastic Planet)
4. Mastodon- Ember City (from Once More Round The Sun)
5. Black Map- I’m Just The Driver (from Driver EP)
6. Placebo- Meds (from Meds)
7. Wovenwar- All Rise (from Wovenwar)
8. Godsmack- Something Different (from 1000 hp)
9. Incubus- The Warmth (from Make Yourself)
10. Down- Nothing In Return (from Down III: Over The Under)
By: Brian Lacy
I thought I’d try something different today. I’ve selected a few songs that I’ve been really into as of late. Some are new and some are old. Enjoy!
Seether- Crash from Isolate and Medicate:
Mastodon (ft Scott Kelly of Neurosis)- Diamonds In The Witch House from Once More Round The Sun:
Down- Conjure from Down IV Part II
Chevelle- Ouija Board from La Gargola
Black Map- I’m Just The Driver from the Driver EP
Abloom- After That Quiet from their 2004 sampler
Dekades- Malnurished from the 1.1 EP
Failure- Daylight from Fantastic Planet
Killswitch Engage- You Don’t Bleed For Me from Disarm The Descent
Royal Blood- Come On Over from the Out Of The Black EP
Black Light Burns- Stop A Bullet from Cruel Melody
Nine Inch Nails- Right Where It Belongs from With Teeth
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark Engles and Ben Flanagan of Black Map before their show at The Wiltern as part of Chevelle’s La Gargola tour. Here’s what went down.
Thank you guys for sitting down talking and hanging out. My fiancé and I were at the Viper Room Show and even with technical difficulties, which made it punk rock, it was still a great show.
Yeah glad it was towards the end, we had a good time, we had a good show. Last 2 songs were totally fucked, but I still left the stage thinking that was good show, even though we couldn’t play the last 2 songs.
Being that this is your first tour as Black Map, what has the crowd reaction been like and what are the ups and downs so far?
It’s been amazing. Spoiling even. Having a headliner who’s so kind. I already had a relationship with them, from when Dredg did some touring with Chevelle. So that part is spoiling. We walk into the venue on the first show and there is no awkwardness and just start talking right away. Some tours it takes weeks to even talk to each other. On this tour we are playing great venues in front of great crowds. The crowd is very open-minded. The Chevelle crowd wants to listen to some rock n roll. And if you’re good at what you do they’re gonna accept it.
This crowd wants to like us and the other band Highly Suspect who is great. It’s been nice getting out there. It’s warm from the get go. And it’s been our job to elevate that. Their fans are a bunch of sweethearts. It’s been great
Nothing’s been thrown at us so that’s a great start.
The Driver EP came out earlier in the year, I bought it when it came out. My fiancé has it in her car, we both can’t stop listening to it. With everything that’s on your plate, I know you’ve been working on your full length. What is the time table on that?
We are close to done with it and that some Tuesday in mid October we hope to release it. We have one more full song to record and some tweaks, mixing and mastering. We’re about 85% done with the whole thing.
What made you want to be in a heavier band considering that you’ve been in more of experimental/alternative melodic bands?
We’ve been talking about it loosely for quite a while, when we’ve been out to dinner at a bar or watching a baseball game. We both know that we have the type of chops the way we play music. We know we are capable of it. I grew up listening to heavy stuff, we both did. Also, having Chris Robyn being down to do it, he’s a heavy hitter, it’s what he specializes in. So with all that, why not go back to a power trio or simple rock band. It’s just fun. When we walked in the room the first day, we said let’s just have fun. We had a 12 pack of beer and just rocked like we were 18 again.
There is kind of a void to fill. I loved and still love the type of music the Trophy Fire is, the lighter alternative rock. I miss when I was younger, just playing the drop d brutal just kind of heavy riffs. Getting in a room and be able to do that as very cathartic, and then to still apply that sense of melody that we have in our other bands, brings out a really good feeling.
What bands really brought you together, especially in the writing?
The obvious are our former bands. There are elements of Dredg, Far and The Trophy Fire. And other things from that era. Failure came up a couple times. Sepultura and Entomed on the guitar side of life, Helmet’s in there. I think all the stuff that influenced us in the mid nineties. Even the stuff that we looked as that was kind of underrated, like Faith No More, bands that did well, but weren’t the big pop radio hit bands.
What’s the driving factor of being a power trio? What really encapsulates your sound?
I really like the fact that Ben is playing bass. He’s a guitar player and we really lock up on riffs and it allows us to get more intricate. I think when a trio is tight, it sounds so much tighter than that of a quartet being tight. You can really back up what you are playing. That was a fun part for us at first. Let’s write things that are very tight and intricate. It’s just simpler that way. And when you load into shows you have a lot less gear and all that other shit that goes with it too. It’s great.
While in Black Map, do you have any ideal tour mates or what’s your ideal bill?
I think any band we enjoy that’s a loud, guitar-driven band would be great for us. Chevelle is actually one of them. Ben brought up months ago, before we were offered the tour.We’d be happy to play with any band that sounds similar or we’ve been influenced by. With my previous band, we’d over analyze things more. Like if someone offered us a tour, we’d think is this good for us. It this a good look? With this band, if the band is loud and we respect them, we’d probably say yes.
Personal Influence wise, who is the one that made you pick up the guitar and sing?
It’s pretty simple for me and actually cliché. When I was 11, I got Nevermind. I basically wanted to be Kurt Cobain. That’s why I started playing guitar. So definitely that started it and went in a million different directions after that. I almost got a little sentimental the other day when we pulled into Seattle. We’re on this tour and it’s going great and I was kind of back to where it all started for me wanting to play guitar and be a singer.
I gotta go with a lot of the metal from the 70’s and 80’s. I was listening to music at a young age. I had an older brother, but it wasn’t until Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Randy Rhodes, that sort of thing. That whole group of bands really made me want to start playing.
That’s really cool actually. Ok If you could pick your top 5 favorite albums and I know its one of those crazy put you on the spot questions…
How much time do you have?
Until you need to go to sound check
It’s tough for me, because whenever this question is asked I automatically go to certain albums like Dark Side Of The Moon and OK Computer. Then I start thinking of genres and different stages of life too. For me Pink Floyd and Radiohead, bands like that came a bit later, even Portishead. But early on it was the metal stuff. Sepultura Chaos AD is in there. Though it all becomes very convoluted in my mind. Like when I was 10 this album changed my likes, then you go through a renaissance of other styles in your 20’s and makes you listen to other things.
We’ve talked a lot about different bands with their records that influenced us like Fantastic Planet by Failure, King For A Day Fool For A Life Time by Faith No More, The Shape Of Punk To Come by Refused. Albums like that. From start to finish they are beautifully executed and tell a story.
I know one for you and me too. California by Mr. Bungle.
Did you get a chance to go to any of the Failure reunion shows?
Saw them twice got to see them open for Tool and their headliner.
Them opening for Tool was cool but their headliner with the 2 sets was fucking cool.
Oh I’d throw Tool Aenima in the mix too.
You guys mentioned that you are going release the album in October. Are you going to do a fall winter tour or wait till the next year to get out there?
It’s all up in the air. We are trying to get anything we feel would be productive. We are definitely thinking about what we could be doing and what not. There are things in the works but nothing confirmed so I really can’t say much about it…
Ok for my one cliché type question, what’s the status of Dredg and The Trophy Fire? I know you Mark went with Dredg over to Europe recently.
Europe was great and successful. We all agreed we have another record in us but there isn’t a rush to do it at this point.
Same with Trophy Fire. Love the guys and we all get along, I’ve just been focusing on this and there are only so many hours in the day. Cool thing about being in a band is that there is no boss looking over your shoulder telling you to clock in.
Ben and Mark:
We’ll do it when we feel the time is right to go back to those projects.
Thank you guys for sitting with me and letting me ask you some questions and taking the time.
Ben and Mark:
Oh you are welcome, it’s our pleasure.
Interview by: Brian Lacy