While Chevelle are a band whose ceiling is admittedly low when it comes to experimentation and progress, their fourth album, “Vena Sera” just might prove to be the album that takes them to the next level and show that they have what it takes to stand out from the crowd. Brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler are delivering their first album without their bassist/brother Joe and with newcomer/brother-in-law Dean Bernardini entered into the fold, and the changes can definitely be felt. “Vena Sera” isn’t introducing a sound that will alienate fans of previous releases, but rather, sounds more confident, energetic and flat-out better.
Opening with the addictive “Antisaint,” which wears it’s Tool influence proudly on it’s sleeve, “Vena Sera” is, from start to finish, the heaviest and richest album Chevelle have come up with. Combining elements from all three previous albums, this is hands down, their best to date. The goal they set for themselves during the making of This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In of creating songs that were faster and would sound better performed live has definitely paid-off here. There really aren’t any mid-tempo hits to be found that resemble “The Red” or “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)” and honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air. Granted, the previous album was great in it’s own right, but showed a band stuck in the mud, beginning to repeat a formula. On this album, however, they sound fresher than ever. Not only are the songs heavier and broader, but Pete has definitely fine-tuned his melodies to perfection. The layered “I Get It” is possibly the most radio-ready of the crowd, and makes good use of Pete’s ever improving vocals. Another example would be the way he magnificently caps off the first single, “Well Enough Alone.” Much of the lyrical content is obviously dealing with the exit of Joe, who was reportedly unhappy with the band’s constant touring schedule, with prime examples being “Braniac” and “Humanoid.” “Saturdays” breaks the tradition of closing an album out with a somber, acoustic number, but suits the album well. Chevelle obviously don’t want to be pegged as a rock-radio band, writing ballads that are purposely made for the masses. That’s not to say that some of these songs couldn’t be hits, but you get the impression that the band is putting their best, most honest effort forward.
The album’s only true downfall is that the mid-section tends to sag a bit. But when it’s sandwiched in between some of the band’s best material to date — “Antisaint,” “I Get It,” “Braniac” — it’s an easy fault to forgive. If you loved the Chevelle you got used to on the last few albums, you might find this album a bit hard to swallow. But honestly, if they had went and made something on the same level as Wonder What’s Next I would personally be very disappointed in them. “Vena Sera” is hardly an instant hit, but it’s easily the best thing they have done since Point #1 and it’ll be interesting to see if they can pull off putting another foot forward on the next album.