The typical rock narrative is that a band generally starts out strong and then, after years of overstaying its welcome, calls it quits as a shadow of its former self. Chevelle, however, have found a way to avoid the perils of age and complacency, with the band somehow growing more into its own with each album -- a trajectory that led to the group's impressive sixth album, Hats Off to the Bull, in 2011. Continuing their upward trend, Chevelle return with La G?rgola, which finds the band once again working with Hats Off producer Joe Barresi, whose work with prog metal-leaning acts like Tool, Isis, and Coheed and Cambria helps to guide the band's sound away from the post-grunge world toward something more credible. Though Chevelle might be a more palatable, radio-ready take on the art metal world, the creativity at the heart of their sound is readily apparent. Looking past La G?rgola's heavier moments (which are as tight as ever), the real key to the album lies in open and ambient cuts like album closer "Twinge," where the heaviness is implied with ominous, reverb-drenched guitars and mysterious, almost mantra-like vocal repetition, creating a subtle tension that just can't be accomplished by distorted, in-your-face guitars. Chevelle's work with Barresi has been something of a renaissance, with the band putting out some of its tightest work to date under his watchful eye, and if Chevelle fans are really lucky, it's a partnership that will continue for a long time. ~ Gregory Heaney
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