Chevelle - NIRATIAS review
|Release date:||March 2021|
02. So Long, Mother Earth
03. Mars Simula
04. Sleep The Deep
05. Self Destructor
06. Piistol Star (Gravity Heals)
09. Test Test…Enough
11. Remember When
12. Ghost And Razor
13. Lost In Digital Woods
They used to say that if man was meant to fly, he'd have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to.
American rockers Chevelle are back after a five-year gap since their last studio album with their ninth record Niratias (Nothing Is Real And This Is A Simulation), a concept album befitting the year 2021 with its themes of space travel, mistrust and uncertainty. Having only ever had name recognition of the band, Chevelle are someone who I'd never taken the time of day to listen to; it was only due to a chance listen to the single "Self Destructor" that I found myself actively looking into the band and seeing if there was more to it than just the one song.
To my surprise, there was far more than just one song; in fact there was a whole album that manages to immerse you in its story and sound without necessitating your full attention or that you listen to the album in order (while it enhances its appeal, you are able to select and skip tracks without picking the album apart at the seams). From the opening distorted guitars of "Verruckt" through to the wormhole of "Mars Simula", the lamentations of "Remember When" through to the closing decompression of "Lost In Digital Woods" Chevelle grab and hold your attention without requiring much in terms of effort in return.
Niratias does venture close to formulaic in terms of song structure in places, but they ensure they skirt those pitfalls without falling in headfirst. "Mars Simula", with its mid-song build ("Black hole, black hole!") breaking the song into two, not only makes for a great song but breaks the standard radio rock structure. While Niratias is not the most diverse record, the concept nature of the album segueing of tracks into one another compensates for this lack of diversity by creating what sounds like different movements in what is a long piece of music; it is ironically the track that offers the most diversity in "Endlessly" that breaks this immersion for the worse.
Brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler are both more than capable musicians, with Pete creating a sonic aesthetic on both guitar and bass that blends Muse and shoegaze into a melting pot that, while not the most original, is damn well captivating. The understated riffs of "Pistol Star (Gravity Heals)" to the building "Peach" are built on a backbone of strong distorted guitars with a focus on melody, with the bass pushed to the fore. The return of Joe Barresi as producer gives the album a familiar but unique feel from his previous work with the band, blending the sci-fi nature of the album with a good understanding of the band's traditional sound.
The flipside to the album sounding like one long piece of music is that it does mean that those who are not taken in immediately are unlikely to find much else to change their mind, rendering the album a 'take it or leave it' proposition for listeners. Having worked my way backwards from this starting point, I can also hear that the album is very similar to the band's prior output; if you are not a newcomer to the band then Niratias will sound all too familiar to offer much unique or new. Given tgat Chevelle have been at it since 1995, I can see that wearing on some people.
Chevelle are unlikely to win over many sceptics with Niratias, but they provide an album well-suited to newcomers and existing fans of the band, and as a concept album, Niratias works extraordinarily well, managing to walk the fine line between falling down the rabbit hole and creating an easily digestible album that is fun and engaging.
||Written on 20.03.2021 by|
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