In the past decade one has been hard pressed to find a truly unique hard rock band that rises above mediocrity.
Too often bands seem to recycle and borrow the same sound with little creativity.
Chevelle is surely one of the exceptions, staying true to their unique vocals, hard guitars and meaningful lyrics with every album released in the past 10 years.
While each of their albums has their own distinct feel, “Wonder What’s Next” is the most well rounded of all of them. Released in 2002, the album rocks hard from top to bottom.
At the time, brothers Pete, Sam and Joe Loeffler were all that comprised the band.
While the lyrics tend to be abstract, many of the tracks are born from the turbid moments in their personal lives.
For instance, the opening song “Family System” likely alludes to struggles brought on by an unstable home. The lyrics deal with the pain and hurt associated with relational issues and divorce: “Endless pain we never quit/ the fight within that pride’s begun/ Saying it’s too late/ what a man got he’ll learn to hate.”
Combined with a haunting opening build and powerful chord combo, there is no better way to lead off the album.
“The Red” contains a similar theme—one of the inward anger accumulated from contentions with others.
The angry build in the song is accentuated by the barking guitars and finds its climax in the repeated “Seeing red again!” lyrics.
While every song is more than deserving of high praise, a few more tracks stand out as well. “Comfortable Liar,” “Send the Pain Below” and “Forfeit” are all strong points on the disc.
All contain themes of betrayal and hurt concurrent with broken relationships.
The collective angst is aptly summed up in “Send the Pain Below” with the key lyric “Much like suffocating”—showcasing the feeling of being smothered by the weight of problems.
“Wonder What’s Next” is the perfect rock album in many respects. It is more than the typical angry band, hopelessly butchering their instruments.
There is a certain musical poetry in the way they put the struggles of life into powerful, driving guitar chords, rhythmic drums and well-placed screams.
The emotion can be felt in every note and lyric from the first song to the last. It is truly a wonderful listen.