It’s not every day that an album begins with an instrumental track. Most of the time when that occurs it’s a short intro. On Chevelle’s most recent album NIRATIAS (which is a great album by the way and TOOL should thank them for making the album they should’ve), the opening track “Verruckt” really sets the tone for the album to come. The sludgey and stoner/doom riffs that accompany the song are quite engaging. Just when you think the vocals are about to chime in, they go a different direction. There’s a subtle Mastodon prog vibe to this song in parts too mixed with a bit of Tool and Helmet. Chevelle one of the most consistent rock bands of the past 20 years and this album proved it in a big way!
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.
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.