"I'll stand for nothing less or never stand again/These are the limits when one's buried / The body's left the soul/…The brain needs oxygen/Can't sneak around this bait/His catacomb has got me by the chin/Could we have known?/Never would I, helped to nail down/With nothing to gain/Here's the clincher, this should be you."
—from "The Clincher"
Criticized by conservatives, embraced by many Christians, and supported by rock enthusiasts in all walks of life, there probably isn't a band more entrenched in the "are they/aren't they?" debate than Chevelle. Given the "Christian band" label the moment their Squint Entertainment debut Point #1 hit store shelves, the band of brothers acquired the title by default, not necessarily because they wanted to. "It's something that's probably going to follow us around forever and that's fine," drummer Sam Loeffler once told Entertainment Insiders. "It's pretty simple. We originally signed with a record company that was backed by Word [Records], so the record was in Christian bookstores. It was really an accidental thing."
Since they were a Christian band by association rather than by choice, the Gospel Music Association (GMA) almost mechanically touted them as one of their own, even after Squint collapsed and folded into its parent company. The trade organization honored them with multiple Dove awards—the GMA's equivalent to the Grammy—and their songs began receiving airplay on Christian radio. Unbeknownst to the trio, the industry kept claiming them throughout the lifecycle of their Epic Records debut Wonder What's Next, and the album eventually became the #3 best–selling title in the Christian market in 2003.
All along, Chevelle kept doing their own thing in the mainstream market. They continued to push their album nonstop via relentless touring and successful singles "The Red" and "Send the Pain Below," both of which ended up in year–end radio charts. Wonder What's Next sold more than 1.2 million units during its chart–run. Epic also landed the home–schooled boys from Chicago a spot in Ozzfest, the controversial, Ozzy Osbourne–led concert extravaganza. At this point, many skeptics were certain that the group had forsaken its roots, for what upstanding Christian band would tour with devil–sympathizers Marilyn Manson and communist–leaning System of a Down?
The doubts are bound to continue with This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In), the band's second Epic effort. As with albums past, this outing is enveloped in dark sonic motifs and even darker, hard–to–decipher poetry. Whereas previous tracks like "Point #1" and "Grab Thy Hand" hinted at their Christian connection, Thinking is more elusive and enigmatic. Frontman and principal songwriter Pete Loeffler is a cryptic songsmith, his choppy rhyme schemes and fragmented sentences being quite a task to untangle. Closer inspection, however, reveals that Thinking is an interesting, somewhat conceptual look at the twisted, misinformed mentality of our culture, which places emphasis on silence, guilt, and cheap substitutes to help it along.
First single "Vitamin R," for example, looks at the increased abuse of ADHD drug Ritalin (code–named vitamin R in street lingo) among people in America: "It's typical/Create world/A special place of my design/To never cope or never care/Just use the key 'cause he's alone/Over and over a slave became." "Panic Prone" is directed at people who dabble in shame and sinful practices, always hiding them but never addressing them: "Gave in again…/Can't keep refusing rights/So he'll loan the cash/But the sin is on the hands of you/So to care or plead silence, weak hands are calling/…To end this catastrophic scene, awake and breathe in … face all that's shameful."
"Tug–O–War" looks at a person pulled in different directions, coming to grips with the conflict in his heart: "Go back and forth until it's learned/To suffer now or nothing's gained/…Push and pull, collecting doubt…/Lost inspiration, panic on the rise/A severed attempt ignored, the reason never outweighs the truth…/The liars club cometh shame/So hand it off, don't care enough/Ignorance is in blissful reach."
Perhaps the most "Christian" song on the album is "The Clincher" (excerpted above), a driving rocker with lots of spiritual imagery (could this be their take on The Passion?).
While it'd be an overstatement to say that these songs are inspiring declarations of faith—especially considering a couple of minor profanities interspersed throughout the record—Chevelle aren't producing overly depressing teen–angst anthems, either. The guys are still Christians—or "recovering Catholics," as they once jokingly told an interviewer—and this is hinted at in the veiled hope of these songs.
Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.