Chevelle – Point No. 1

4 out of 5

Label: Squint

Produced by: Steve Albini

Hey y’all: I love this album.  I loved the video for ‘Mia,’ accepting it for all of its Tool-ness but loving how Chevelle just kinda went direct with rock and aggression where Tool might swerve into artiness, and I loved the entire album, from start to finish, despite acknowledging that a lot of the tracks have sections that sound similar.

Some years later, when kids were going gaga over Wonder What’s Next – which I enjoyed but didn’t love – I kept waggling Point No. 1 in the kids’ faces, saying, “if ya like that…”  This pattern continued through the next album, and then on Vena Sera, it felt like the group had shed some of the spotlight baiting of the then-popular nu-metal scene that had led them slightly astray, leading to a string of mostly badass albums thereafter.  The lessons learned along the way have been important: modern day Chevelle is an influencer, not a soundalike, and each member has emerged with their own defining contributing sound, with Pete Loeffler’s lyrics – while maybe never particularly deep – able to convey legitimate emotions, with some occasionally interesting quirk.

And none of that quite existed on Point No. 1.  While Loeffler avoids the general ‘fuck you all’ lyricism of his metal / rock peers, his thoughts at the time are pretty vague, with open-ended imagery or phrases repeated for the entirety of any given track.  The group rocks out, but it’s absolutely indebted to not only Tool’s Opiate / Aenima, but also a youthy , grungey need to just bristle with explosions of distortion.

…But man, it all sounds so, so good, and I suspect we have producer Steve Albini to thank for that, keeping the boys on a very straight, forward momentumed track, with the low end bristling all over the disc and making every rip of guitar a lightning burst of aggression and energy.  Songs’ core strum and drum approach is cut-and-pasted throughout Point No. 1, and yet each song somehow manages to be memorable, thanks to making sure that that template soon finds its way to some burst of energy, or to a notable twist or breakdown.  The power of this is well proven: while I’m forever overjoyed by subsequent Chevelle releases, I still go back to listen to Point No. 1 pretty damn regularly, and it’s not the ring of nostalgia that carries me through, but a legitimate love for how these songs managed to sweep their influences and mimicries ‘neath a cover of amazing sounding, sincerely performed, Rock.