Darkened tones

American alt-metal act Chevelle is facing some interesting conundrums as it releases La Gárgola, the trio’s seventh studio album.

You might even call it a life-or-death scenario.

“We’re not sure if we are going to be the ones being killed or the ones killing,” drummer Sam Loeffler said of the short horror film they are writing that will act as the group’s next music video. “We’ll probably be the ones getting murdered. Pretty violently, I might add.”

Doom and gloom isn’t usually too far out of the Chevelle playbook, but La Gárgola — which translates to “the gargoyle” — willfully dives deeper into that blood-and-guts head-space more than any disc before it.

The trio’s usual brand of melodic hard rock draws cues from classic horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Thing. La Gárgola amplifies the influence of industrial metal gods Ministry, with its spiky riffs and creeping distortion making for one of the band’s heaviest efforts to date.

“It’s nice to pull from something like that … it’s just fun,” Loeffler said. “The darkness that creeps in, it comes from imagining the type of music going on in the background as a person is being chased around by an axe-wielding murderer.”

Loeffler thinks it’s just the right amount of twist in the formula to continue the trend of subtle evolutions between albums. It’s an
evolution that has carried through since “The Red” and “Send the Pain
Below” broke out and made 2002’s Wonder What’s Next a platinum
smash in the midst of the hard-rock wave that made Linkin Park,
Hoobastank, Puddle of Mudd and Staind some of the biggest names in
American music.

Chevelle has enjoyed a steadier road and critical success a decade later than most of its early aughts’ alt-metal peers, a path the band credits to a willingness to shake things up just enough to keep it interesting but without being overworked.

“At this point, we’ve published over 80 songs, and I hope that no two songs sound alike. And I don’t think they do,” Loeffler said. “It’s a hard thing to accomplish, especially when you aren’t trying to be different for the sake of being different.”

And La Gárgola stays true to that, offering some strikingly soft and pretty moments to pop through the otherwise-dreary night sky, a fitting move consistent with its quandaries of life and death.

“Getting out of our box, it’s something that’s almost expected of us,” Loeffler said. “The bands we loved, they did their own thing and paved their way. Those are the ones we look toward.” 

Joshua Boydston

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