Whitechapel - Whitechapel
Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Deathcore is not exactly a friendly genre for casual audiences. Whitechapel knows this. Why wouldn’t they? Through the growth of a rabid fanbase with a love for tracks like “Visor Excisor” and “Breeding Violence”, the band has steadily risen to the peak of an often challenged genre. Now, the band attempts to solidify themselves not only as leaders of said distinction – but to push us into their whims of textural meddling and much more risky thoughts of pianos and at times less frantic instrumentation. Despite a few hiccups, Whitechapel is smarter, less jagged and all around just as unapologetically vicious as before – making this slight shift towards accessibility adventurous and amicable for a group of guys with a scene arguably in their hands.
Opening a record with the solemn piano fronting “Make It Bleed” is an interesting pacesetter, providing a hint of the sharp contrast presented briefly throughout this record whether it be the absence of screaming in the vocals (“Hate Creation”) or the incorporation of pianos and a mimicking in the songwriting through slow, deliberate melodies that don’t seem to need vocals to keep your attention (“Devoid”). The occurrence of these different textures help accentuate and buildup the musically compressed passages instead of constantly bludgeoning us with blast-beats or breakdowns. It is admittedly strange at first listen to hear these things going on, but with repeated listens the incorporations start to make more and more sense in the bigger picture.
Tracks like “(Cult)uralist” give us a taste of some differently approached guitar licks, reminding a bit of Nile at times while still finding ways to inject the typical Whitechapel punch without overshadowing it. “I, Dementia” follows up with a sludgy base and thundering drums, as Phil Bozeman barks his usually sharp misanthropy (“Blame yourself for what you’ve become, the mind is a powerful thing set to self-destruct”) over the droning yet effective riffs housed here. It further shows the sonic variety of this record that not everything needs constant slamming or an obligatory breakdown to succeed even by Whitechapel’s standards.
That isn’t to say this is a complete departure of what most people have come to love about this band. “Section 8”, a re-appearing track from the band’s Recorrupted EP, still hits just as hard as a generally mid-tempo, groove-based number with a few bits of blistering instrumentation thrown in. The set up for the ending breakdown was always something of great anticipation when this track first surfaced, and some odd number of months later the creation of tension – and its eventual release – still stands out as a memorable moment on Whitechapel. The grooves of earlier works by the band are still as present (“Make It Bleed”, “The Night Remains”), but just done in a way that compliments the very sinister vibe these tracks stew in.
Bozeman’s less focused lyricism generally takes us in different directions this time around. Brooding more upon the nature of people opposed to constantly foraying into topics of past such as religion, Whitechapel gives Bozeman a chance to kind of be all over the board when it comes to spouting his signature growl – while still giving him just as much room as the music to do a few things the band hinted at on Recorrupted. That isn’t to say we don’t get to hear his thoughts again on the already visited topics of past records (“Possibilities of an Impossible Existence”, “Faces”), but sticking to not following some sort of lyrical agenda keeps this record from getting overly repetitive or stale in its rather varying musical tendencies. Vocally, Bozeman sounds just as crisp and perhaps a bit more decipherable this time around, shifting our ears towards something that will sink in a bit quicker than the quirks of this album.
It would be very easy to dismiss this record as something very different and admittedly risky considering the band’s fanbase. But Whitechapel makes good on giving us an expanded palate of sounds without dropping the preceding premise of the band in the process. Whether you were on the fence with A New Era of Corruption or not, any hesitancy should be subsided with Whitechapel – this record takes everything the band has done in the past and gives it to us in a rather different, yet just as captivating way.
Finally they get a staff review! Great record although I don't think it's better than Corruption. Maybe on par, but different. Phil is still a monster although I preferred his stuff on Corruption and I actually think the lyrics were more decipherable on it than on this record. Kevin Lane is also sorely missed although the new drummer isn't bad by any means.
Exile is still my favorite from these guys. I just think it has the best musicianship and some really cool riffs/grooves. This album seems to be going for that same "groove" feel - I think I will like it more after listening to it a few more times