Whitechapel
Whitechapel

Evolution in metal is an interesting beast, and one that has three distinct paths for bands who decide to travel down its twisty road. Evolve too far and you risk alienating your fan base, and in extreme cases become a virtual laughingstock (Morbid Angel, Machine HeadCryptopsy – you all should know exactly which albums I’m referring to,). Choose not to evolve or stray too far from the path, but pull off your respective style better than 90% of your competitors (Napalm Death, Kataklysm, Behemoth). Or evolve just far enough to push the boundaries, and gain new fans while taking your style in a new direction (Gojira, Ion Dissonance, God Dethroned). The new Whitechapel album definitely falls between the latter two options.

This is the fourth full length by the Tennessee sextet, and the lineup is virtually the same, save for new drummer Ben Harclerode (ex – Knights of the Abyss)taking over for Kevin Lane (who was phenomenal). He’s a worthy replacement, showing off great control and syncopation with the three-pronged axe attack. Whitechapel have been roundly criticized for featuring three guitarists since their inception, with many reviewers and listeners asking the question – “two guitarists could totally pull this off, what is the need for a third?”; and to a large degree it was true. This is where the new album really branches out, and though we got a taste on A New Era of Corruption, the guitar work is much improved on this LP. You get the first nice solo in the opening track, “Make It Bleed”, which helps to make an otherwise forgettable track much better. Then there’s the djent style guitar interplay of “I, Dementia” and “Dead Silence”, with its thrashy bridge, to the darting staccato riffing that peppers “Section 8”.

Now don’t assume that this is a riff-fest, which it isn’t, or worse yet that they have forgotten how to bring the hefty breakdowns. These guys have always been among the breakdown elite, but absent is the chug-breakdown-chug formula that plagues many of the repeats in this genre. Most every song features one or two, but they are used as additions instead of substitutions for good song writing. Adding to the guitars, Phil Bozeman punishes the microphone with one of the best death growls in all of metal, even mixing in some higher register vocals on “The Night Remains”, a medium-fast track that is easily one of the best songs in their catalog.

That track leads into instrumental “Devoid”, bringing back the pianos that were first seen at the beginning of track one. It’s an interesting effect, and one that shows up for the final time during the outro section of the final song. It’s an odd musical choice but one that somehow works, and the brevity that is shown with its usage adds much more to its enjoyment; too much would have killed the momentum of the album.

The album is mastered by Alan Douches (Converge, Mastodon), which is always a good choice, and comes packaged in a sharp looking, textured digipak. Whitechapel won’t win over the deathcore haters, but this album is much more death than core and shouldn’t be dismissed without at least an objective look. It’s not perfect, and they still have a lot of growth potential in the guitar department, but there is much more depth and emotion in this latest endeavor. As my colleague Erik Thomas wrote in his new Dying Fetus review, will anyone remember this album in 20 years? Maybe not, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable right now.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kevin E
June 21st, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Love the packaging this cd came in. I hear some Acacia strain like heft here- more more restrained than previous releases. good stuff


  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this band sucks. deathcore sucks. fuck bro metal.


  3. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    Insightful as always Nick


  4. Commented by: xiweinx

    I never liked Whitechapel. But always open for another view.

    But you forgot Bolt Thrower in your list.


  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    seriously, what’s the appeal of this style? breakdowns don’t justify the existence of bands, and that’s the only thing that deathcore brings to the table whatsoever. jud jud bree bree.


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