Chevelle have always been an interesting product of the post-grunge era. Imagine if Tool had a clean-cut younger brother who, while bearing a strong family resemblance, went off and played ball for a state college instead of going off to art school before eventually getting lost at Burning Man. What’s made Chevelle such a surprise is that, rather than wither in the shadows of an influence that was also one of their contemporaries, they’ve managed to take their sound in their own direction and fully refine it on their sixth studio album, Hats Off to the Bull. Heavy and dramatic, the album is packed full of tightly coiled, muscular riffs, giving the album a controlled feeling more like a slow burn than an explosive, cathartic release. Chevelle always seem to be in control of the songs, which makes the album feel intense in a way that has an austere, stiff-upper-lip quality. This makes the big releases of pressure, like the title track “Hats Off to the Bull,” feel more earned than if Chevelle had just jammed every song full of breakdowns. All in all, Hats Off to the Bull is a finely crafted album from a band that has really grown into its own over the years, and definitely serves as a reminder that these guys are one of the best hard rock bands out there right now.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney