Rediscovering: Chevelle’s Wonder What’s Next

So this is it. We’re finally at the bottom of the pile now. I’ll reserve my comments on how the Rediscovering has gone for tomorrow’s wrap-up, but it’s a great relief and long overdue. This project has changed the way I listen to music, for better and for worse, and it’s finally cleared me out of that big backlog of stuff I simply couldn’t touch any other way. Bless the Rediscovering.

Chevelle's Wonder What's Next

Bless Chevelle! We’re ending on a high note, boyos. Chevelle’s Wonder What’s Next, their breakout from 2002.

My previous experience, if any

I love Chevelle. They have such a distinctive brand of leaden, rhythmic metal with just enough melody to stick in your head, and they have this sense of space and cinematography that just makes me shiver if I’m in the right mood. I dug the crap out of Point #1, their debut, and the singles from basically all their albums, but yeah, you know the drill by now.

The history lesson

“The Red”. “Closure”. “Send the Pain Below”. Three instant classic tracks as soon as they dropped. Point #1 laid the foundation for their sound, but Wonder What’s Next tuned down real low like the group had hit puberty–which it practically did. With their new focus on texture and an appreciation for drop B tuning, Chevelle moved two million copies of this one (though sadly, the band didn’t make any money from it–fuck labels).


And yeah! It’s really not hard to see why. This thing rips. They have a pretty expert sense of dynamics, tossing in lighter vocals, climactic screams, heavy riffing, and spooky noises exactly where they should be, and it makes for some fantastic 2000s metal music.

“Family System” is the perfect demonstration of what I’m talking about. These haunting clean guitars get supremely crushed out of nowhere by that thick, massive, grimy tone, and it’s full speed ahead and stomping until the surprisingly melodic vocals come in. For more eeriness, I’d definitely recommend “Comfortable Liar”, which has one of the best grooves on the entire album. That crazy heavy riff drops to some surprisingly weird harmonies and booming drums on the chorus.

Pete Loeffler’s vocals are great. They can sound weak and beaten down when they need to be, and strong and growling when they need to be. He has incredible range to let out these insane climactic screams, like at the end of “The Red” (with one of my favorite videos I’ve ever seen to boot) or on the chorus of “Don’t Fake This”. If you’re wondering how much of it is studio trickery, the true closer of the album, “One Lonely Visitor” is a surprisingly distant home-recorded acoustic demo that the band persuaded their label to use in place of the studio version, and he gets just as loud and powerful there.

I imagine the bombast might not work for some, but I love it. Every song feels like Chevelle writing a song for the end–the world or otherwise. You can see it in the song titles, “Closure”, “Wonder What’s Next”, “Forfeit”, not that the concept makes them happy in the context of the title track. It’s both one of the best riffs on the album, some of the best sonic carnage, and an angry screed about how much bureaucracy hangs over the music business.

For the final Rediscovering, I sure don’t have a ton to say here. (I guess I could mention my copy’s one of those CD Extra enhanced discs, which I have admittedly yet to try out…) It’s just excellent. What you hear in the singles truly is what you get for 45 minutes here. It’s consistent, it’s crunchy, it’s tight, and yeah, I’m gonna need to come back to it when this project’s all over. Which!

Are you keeping it?

I absolutely am.

And yes, I do wonder what’s next!

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