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Whitechapel sure had a lot to live up to after releasing the "classic" "The Somatic Defilement" in 2007. Exactly a year later, the dudes would drop their sophomore full-length album "This Is Exile", which is often acclaimed by many fans as the band's crowning achievement. Personally, I still find "The Somatic Defilement" to be the band's finest hour. However, "This Is Exile" is exactly what you would expect from Whitechapel at the time: finely crafted deathcore with an amazing collection of riffs, crushing breakdowns, and it seemed on this album, soloing would become more common than before. Well, to an extent, anyway. This album is not as brutal or crushing as its precursor, but it is still pretty damn good, and an essential listen for any deathcore fan.
Although I said this album is not as heavy as the previous effort, make no mistake. This album will still blow your balls off. "Father of Lies" gets things kicking with a straight up death metal riff accompanied by a blast beat and the three guitarists add so much atmosphere to the overall heaviness throughout. The solo in this song is probably the most impressive on the album although, at this point, solos were still fairly atypical in Whitechapel's music, and this solo is not super technical or really all that impressive. "To All That Are Dead" contains a more technically proficient solo but still, I think I prefer the solo in "Father of Lies" above all just because it seems better placed and more effective for what it is. There is a fine mix of melody and aggression in these guitar riffs. The title track seems to be the fan favorite of this album but with songs such as those I mentioned earlier, as well as "Possession" and the epic closer "Messiahbolical", the title track seems to fall behind in comparison. The eerie intro to the instrumental piece "Death Becomes Him" is perhaps the most atmospheric on the entire album and these three guitars really work quite well to bring the album together as one. This album is definitely more accessible and "listener friendly" than the previous and although it's certainly not as heavy, it's still, as I said before, essential. And of course, since we are discussing a deathcore album here, it is only appropriate to include some of this album's finest breakdowns. "Father of Lies" surely has it's fair share, and the breakdowns in that title track are crushing, but where lies the best breakdown? Honestly for me, the second and final instrumental number "Of Legions" holds the best breakdowns. They are accompanied with extremely atmospheric guitar passages and just sound absolutely amazing.
Overall, the drumming here is quite similar and familiar. Double bass, blast beats, and impressive fills are all ever present on this release. He is one of the highlights of this band and always has been and, on future releases, this will continue to remain the same. There is some technicality to the drumming when he is not following along to a breakdown and even those who detest Whitechapel or deathcore in general seem to be on familiar ground with this. "Exalt" contains some of the best drumming you will hear on the album but really, you could take any of these songs and the drumming would remain impressive and proficient.
Phil's vocals seem to be a bit more refined and clear this time around, probably due to the crisper and much clearer production. This album is definitely not as dirty sounding as the previous which definitely makes it easier to hand for those who generally stay clear of this style of extreme music. Fear not, however; his gutturals are amazing on this album. He uses his typical extremely low growls and grunts and more so on this album, utilizes an almost blackened scream. This gives the music an overall much more blackened atmosphere. Phil is probably my favorite vocalist in the deathcore genre, seeing as he's pretty much the closest to death metal you can get. There are no pig squeals on this album and I'm sure a lot of people are extremely appreciative of that.
If you enjoyed "The Somatic Defilement", even though this album is better produced and overall more melodic, I'm sure you'd still enjoy this too. This is often seen as the band's breakthrough album due to its "easier listening" and while that may be true, it is still a crushing, brutal piece of deathcore that certainly contains that heaviness and destructive quality Whitechapel is known for. This is the album many people get into the band with and because of its accessibility, this makes a lot of sense. Enjoy this piece of melodic yet destructive deathcore!
Pretty much anything can go down the drain, and this includes death metal. By the way, this is not real death metal, this is deathcore, which is sort of the evolution of death metal into a lower being.
I hate to sound like a stupid, annoying elitist, but This is Exile is a terrible album from a terrible band. It does have a few moments which I admit are catchy, but overall, the album is very annoying and unpleasant to listen to. Sure, it's brutal, but what the fuck does that mean. Simply having catchy, heavy breakdowns does not make music good. What makes music good is a balance of technicality and musicality, which this obviously lacks. It has a few technical sections, but everything is very poorly written. This is like some Slipknot fans learned to play death metal, and so deathcore was born.
The vocals on here are boring as fuck. Luckily, pig squeals are not the main element, but the growls are flat and boring. There is little emotion behind them, other than a bit of anger that appears to be angry at nothing. High screams are used to a lesser extent, and they are honestly quite good, and could have been used a bit more here. The low "brutal" vocals get very annoying.
Most of the riffs on This Is Exile are generic beyond belief. We have the typical "chug chug chug chug" type shit with the occasional quasi-lead fill. When chugging and filling is not being done, annoying melodic metalcore riffs and tremolo riffs are being played in low tunings. The guitar playing is definitely not interesting. The same goes for the bass, but to an even greater extent. I can't even really hear the bass, but my guess is that it is following the guitar.
I am sure my overt negativity towards This Is Exile is getting annoying, so why not share some of the albums higher points? The drumming, I admit, is good. The drums are perhaps the highest point here. Some great drum fills are played, but like everything else on the album, it gets repetitive and annoying. The one good song on the album is Possession. It has some nice vocal lines, but the lyrics are fucking stupid.
This Is Exile sucks because it tries to hard to be badass. Music is about much more than just being badass. Whitechapel need to stop focusing on being brutal, and they need to start focusing on the music itself, and making it pleasant to listen to.
I’ve heard music that sucks way, way more than this, but I haven’t heard something this disappointing in a long time. Whitechapel may be one of better deathcore bands (they actually are among better deathcore bands), but how much does that fact mean? Considering most deathcore I’ve heard sounds downright awful, this is actually pretty good, but is otherwise not much of an album.
Phil Bozeman is a competent vocalist, no two ways about it. In fact, he’s one of few deathcore vocalists that actually sound like death metal vocalists and I can appreciate it. He can growl and he can shriek. However, let’s not kid ourselves, he cannot compete with George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Glen Benton (Deicide) or Piotr Wiwczarek (Vader) in any way. Still, he is the highlight of this album, because everything else pales in comparison for many reasons.
Let’s start with guitars. Seriously, three guitarists? It works great in Iron Maiden, but that’s because Iron Maiden guitarists do not stick to playing the same riff (also because Iron Maiden songs have cool solos), while the three guitarists in Whitechapel do play the same exact riff, so one guitarist would have been enough for this band. Speaking of which, most of the riffs found here sound awfully similar and are pretty uninteresting. As a result, the songs feel awfully similar, if not the same. Here and there, it is possible to hear some sections that try to break the monotony (a short solo in Father of Lies being one example), but more often than not to no avail. The drums are standard for deathcore: some blast beats here and there (for instance, at the very beginning of Father of Lies), following the other instruments in most other situations. The bass? Don’t come looking for it, you will not hear it. The breakdowns found on this album are not nearly as bad as they can be in deathcore, but it still doesn’t mean much.
Overrated, dull, boring, disappointing, monotonous, feel free to choose your pick among these adjectives, because this album really disappointed me. It seems deathcore is definitely not for me. Most of the points go to Phil Bozeman and because Father of Lies still feels better than the rest of the album. Unless you’re into deathcore, no need to look this up. If you have to check it out, proceed with caution.
Deathcore took a really long time for me to get into, and even today I really don't care for it much. This is the only Whitechapel record that I like, own, and plan on ever owning. As of today, no Deathcore band has more than one album that interests me, other than Rings of Saturn. Whitechapel's one album happens to be this one. I saw Whitechapel live one time with two of my friends in a small club. It wasn't a terrible performance, worth the 20 dollars or whatever I paid, but by no means do I need to see them again. Why? The biggest reason being because all of the songs sounded almost the same, which I will hit hard about this album. The only ones that didn't are the ones that stuck out to me on this record.
That's a great place to start my actual review; the good parts of this. The title track "This Is Exile" is phenomenal if you ask me. The intro with the faded in and isolated vocals grabs the listener's attention without remorse and throws them into a mental moshpit in their head. To be honest, this was the only song I moshed to when I saw them, and it was the last song that they played. Why? Because it sticks out, and is superior to most of their work. It has a recognizable chorus, and the instrumentation seems more musical to me, while a lot of their riffs are usually repeated power chords used over and over and over. Another one that stands out is the track right after it, called "Possession". There's not much to say about it, as my reasons are the same as the first song mentioned. The only difference would be that this one does not open the same way as the title track.
As far as the rest of the album goes, it's good for a while. It's easy to jam to, but after 5 or 6 tracks, it starts to get boring, and by the time you hit track 7 or 8, you just think "God, this needs to fucking end already", because it just drags on. All of the songs somewhat sound the same, and they ultimately get boring. It's not that they aren't musically good, but they aren't musically great. They're just like any other Deathcore song that uses the same style over and over again, and there's really nothing special to it.
In a way, I'm summing up the entire band here, but this album is the main focus, simply because it's the only album that appeals to me at all and that I can talk about the most. It has its highlights, and clearly it was good enough for me to buy, so it's not a bad album. But I would not recommend it to people who want a solid metal album. If I were to recommend something similar, but with more dynamics and substance, I would recommend the death metal band "The Black Dahlia Murder". The live performances of the songs that I liked were good, but the problem mainly lies in the fact that they all sound almost the same. The vocalist is still talented, as are the rest of the band, and I would never bash anybody who passionately makes music. But it's mediocre, and could be a lot better.
Whitechapel....Good ol'Whitechapel...is gone! "The Somatic Defilement" featured one br00tal moron gurgling, snarling, or whatever he did, over the decent (at times really good) death-metal influenced riffs played by three skilled guitarists. Magnificent drumming was also included and the bass work...well....was good. Their second effort, entitled "This Is Exile", features a fucking moron screaming over breakdowns. Magnificent drum-work is gone and the bass-playing...well...it's the same.
I really don't know how to describe this album. It's a fucking abortion, it's a downfall, but.....it has something redeemable, that will make you think "OK, they are not that bad". I had a very bad experience listening for the first time to this album. Mainly because the band turned very generic and approached the genre from a commercial point of view (I mean, they made this album for scene kids, who think that Black Veil Brides or Bring Me The Horizon are the best bands in the world). But after the second or third listening, the scene kid in me started to rise up and the album became pretty enjoyable, but still bad.
There are many wrong things and a handful of good things on this album. First off, the music. The guitars are 80% breakdowns and 20% actual riffs, that can be catalogued as "pretty decent". The guitarists never compose passages that require more than 3, maybe 4, strings and they never adventure above the 5th fret. The main reason behind this compositional simplicity is br00tality, which can be done in many other ways. For example, look at Dying Fetus and Behemoth, they use all the strings of the guitar and go far beyond the 5th fret, but still manage to be brutal and heavy as fuck. I never really understood the purpose of the 3rd guitarist. They want to be heavy and brutal or at least leave this impression? There are a ton of ways to sound brutal and heavy (or at least leave this impression), without adding three 7-string guitars to the mix. One way, could be the production. The guitars could have been equalized better, by turning the mid and low buttons a little bit higher, or they could've been higher and louder in the mix (of course, without totally mixing out the drums and the bass). Look at their peers from All Shall Perish. They have a loud production, that enhances the sound of the not-particularly heavy guitars, so that they leave the impression of heaviness and brutality. But the production on this album is so sterile that even the worst band of the world, Waking The Cadaver, manages to be heavier than Whitechapel at times. The only good thing about the guitars are the melodic parts. They use the harmonic minor scale, which gives those parts an exotic, almost oriental feel, like in the title track, where one guitar plays a melodic bit and the other guitars play a breakdown over. I have to admit that all the riffs in "Possession" and "This Is Exile" are decent and enjoyable. I said the riffs...not the breakdowns.
The breakdowns are traditional deathcore breakdowns. They are actually one note, usually the low A, played over an odd rhythm. Whitechapel manages (I don't know how) on this opus to create the most generic, shitty, boring and uninteresting breakdowns to ever reach our ears. If it was only one every song or two, it would've been a small issues. But these breakdowns are 80% percent of the music and that's unacceptable.
A music based on breakdowns is not necessarily a bad music. Dying Fetus, Suffocation and many slam bands (a slam is to an extent a form of breakdown) have a music that is 25%, 50% and sometimes 75% breakdown, but they are not bad bands. They just know how to make a proper breakdown and incorporate it skilfully into their music.
Now the drums...The drummer manages to be heads and shoulders above his bandmates, in terms of skill. He is the best musician in Whitechapel, no doubts, but with the new approach of the genre, his drumming became very generic. He alternates between the horrendous blastfest that plagues every single deathcore song and the slow, groovy, cymbal-driven drumming, mostly present during breakdowns or during slow to mid-paced riffs. The drum-tone changed, from a slam-like tone on the first album to a more polished and sterile one. The snare and the toms sound different, not as raw as on the first album, but as I said more polished and sterile. The only improvement in this department is the cymbal sound. The cymbals sound better than on the first album.
The bass player is fucking redundant in this band. He is there because the standard death metal line-up comprises two guitarists (in this case three), one bassist, one drummer and one vocalist. I feel very sad for him. He could've been used better on this album, he could've increased the heaviness of the band.......but no, the other fucking morons in this band said that three sterile guitars are better than one nice and meaty bass. By the way, although he was pretty inaudible, in "Possession" he has a spot where he plays alone and I could actually hear his bass and the bass production. And it's pretty good, but as I feared....he's totally mixed out.
Now about the vocalist guy. His vocals are very generic and less versatile on this LP. The gutturals (more deathcore, than death metal) are predominant and highs are always layered over the growls, which pretty much sucks, because they don't know how to use layering properly. When done by Vital Remains or Behemoth they sound ok, but when done by Whitechapel they sound pretty much like shit, because you lay one bad vocal part over another bad part and the result is a low-quality thing. His lyrics also worsened. On the previous album, he wrote gory and poetical lyrics. Now, using the vocabulary of a 5-year old boy who just discovered the word "fuck", he creates lines that are suitable for the targeted audience, the scene kids, whose brains are washed by the shitty scene music that floods the market today.
I gave this album a 50% rating, because I used to be a scene kid. Now judging from the point of view of a metalhead, I pretty much understand why they did this. In the world today, kids are brainwashed from early childhood by greedy bastards, so they don't know what is bad, and what is good. Whitechapel wanted to make a living out of music, easy and fast. And they turned to scene-oriented deathcore. Good guys, Whitechapel! Now go fuck yourselves and sell albums to morons...*fuckin bastards*.
After an excellent start in The Somatic Defilement and gaining a pretty large fanbase, Whitechapel used their momentum, signed to Metal Blade Records and began work on a second album. Did the momentum in their favor go to their head and make them sell out and make a commercial deathcore album? Well, yes and no. While easily more accessible than it's predecessor "The Somatic Defilement", it's still hardly got mainstream appeal (maybe to scene kids, but slap growls and breakdowns on anything and they'll jump on it). While the sound Whitechapel started with is very much present, they've added a few new parts that work in their favor.
The band have dropped their heavily brutal death metal influenced riffage in favor of a more melodic tone. This is hardly As I Lay Dying style melodic leads, but they are more melodic than, say, Devourment. There is also a lot of soloing on this album. A common problem with deathcore bands is THEY CAN'T SOLO! This is not the case for Whitechapel. The solos found in songs like Possession and To All That Are Dead are brilliant, and a few more would've really helped the album a lot. There are probably more breakdowns on here than there were on The Somatic Defilement (a lot), but once again, they never use the same one twice.
Phil Bozeman is still a good vocalist, but he doesn't bring anything new. Just more gurgly low growls, mid-ranged grunting and raspy high pitched screams. However, this isn't a bad thing, as he still sounds incredible and unique, and his higher vocals have improved a lot from the last album. His lyrics have also got worse ("Subconciously, I am aroused"), and there's a lot more random outbursts of "FUCK!" That might sound cool to a scene kid who thinks "omfg he said fuck! so hardcore!" but it sounds a bit childish, really.
Guy Kozowyk from The Red Chord also pops up on Exalt. He makes a good change from Phil's grunts and screams for all of two lines.
No bass. Again. Poor Gabe. He must be upset about getting mixed out all the time.
The drums, once again, are excellent. The blasts are fast, the fills are expertly done, the breakdowns are groovy, the tone is great. The drums are just exactly what you need from drums on an album. A perfect rhythm with lots of tempo changes and fast parts.
The album also contains some bits between tracks where a distorted demonic voice is heard. I have no idea what it's supposed to represent, but it doesn't last long and really only serves as brief interludes. The final track also contains an ambient section that lasts most of the song, before going back to the Whitechapel sound with Phil growling "I AM THE END!" over and over, as low as he can. A great end to a great album.
The flaws? Apart from the lack of bass, poor lyrics and the shortage of great solos, the second-to-last track Of Legions is VERY unnecessary. Consisting of a slow build-up and a bunch of spacey sound effects before a mediocre breakdown that lasts the entirety of the rest of the track. It's just not really good enough to be there, even if it does fade into closer Messiahbolical and shouldn't have been included.
Highlights: Father of Lies, Possession, Eternal Refuge, Messiahbolical, Somatically Incorrect
The way Metal Blade continue to churn out deathcore bands these days reminds me somewhat of the way Roadrunner had a production line of Nu Metal wannabes throughout the mid-nineties. Not that Whitechapel are comparable musically to Coal Chamber of course, far from it - thank fuck. I never quite understood the hatred that Job for a Cowboy got from internet bitchers, apart from the fact that they seemed to exemplify a lot of what is wrong with commercial end of extreme metal nowadays, they seemed like a fairly proficient death metal band to me. However, with hundreds of bands jumping on the bandwagon, I can see that this new metal fad will undoubtedly get extremely tiresome sooner rather than later. I mean, c’mon – check out the font that Whitechapel use on their band logo – it’s almost identical to Job for a Cowboys. They could’ve at least tried to be a little bit original!
So, let’s see what we have here. Perfect production? Check. Breakdowns aplenty? Check. Can’t decide whether they want to be Suffocation or Hatebreed? Check. Generic? Naturally. OK, so perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but Whitechapel really don’t do much for me at all. There are the occasional interesting pieces of riff interplay, or crushing Dying Fetus-like riff breakdown – but they just end up getting coupled with downtuned ‘chugga chugga’ crap that really ruins songs for me. Fear Factory did that 10 years ago, there’s no need to dig it up again now and couple it with death metal. There’s even a few nods toward At the Gates in the more melodic sections you’ll be surprised to hear too(!). The best thing about Whitechapel are the vocals for me, with Phil Bozeman’s range reminding me a lot of Svencho of Aborted, so if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll probably dig this guy too.
The main word that sums this album up for me is ‘sterile’. It’s the metal equivalent of pre-packed meat. Perfectly cut into shape via pro-tools, sitting on its clean polystyrene tray of production, ready for sale on a mass scale. Yes, it’s got its brutal points, but it’s not brutal in the true death metal sense of the word. It’s just missing teeth for me, which is kind of like watching a Rocky film with all the fight scenes cut out. Good enough, but there’s scarier, uglier and dare I say it… more interesting stuff out there. Boring.
Originally written for http://www.metalteamuk.net/
It's albums like this that make my hate for deathcore decrease a lot even to the point where This Is Exile is played in my iPod at least once a day. You can tell these guys know what they're doing and seriously have lots of talent when you blast this album at full volume.
This Is Exile might be their best release so far, flooding your ears with both melodic guitar passages and brutal death metal chugs in a very low tuning, but unlike other deathcore bands, these guys know how to keep it crunchy and aggressive without using excessive breakdowns or boring dissonant chugga chugga fests. This album sounds very understandable and clean (not clean as in computerized fl studio-ish sound but rather clean as Lamb Of God), so you won't miss any of their riffs, drum fills, solos or even the bass-line, even with Phil Bozeman's never stopping vocals.
Phil Bozeman's vocals are certainly not unique but they're not bad at all. He sure knows how to growl and enunciate the words properly at the same time, and very fast as well. He's no Corpsegrinder but still sounds brutal and will make you love this album even more everytime you hear it. The only bummer i found is the fact that the lyrics are kind of mediocre. They try too hard to be philosophical/satanic/intellectual and yet end up using ''fuck'' so many times that you'll almost think their lyricist was Corey Taylor from Slipknot. The fact that the word ''fuck'' is used to many times makes the lyrical content much less aggressive and very childish. I wouldn't mind it this was some kind of parody or if they would've done this for the sake of being funny, but since the album concept is supposed to be serious and epic, it kind of ruins the whole atmosphere. Oh well, nothing too bad since, again, Phil's Vocals sound pretty awesome in most of the songs.
The bass is almost inexistent as you can barely hear it except for a couple of melodic fills such as in Possession, so there's nothing much to talk about their bassist. The bass pretty much follows the guitars melody all the time so don't expect Cryptopsy-like bass parts or anything Slaughterbox would play.
A standars is one of my favorite tunings in metal, and these guys knew how to use it with their 3 guitarists. That's right, 3 guitars. That doesn't mean it's over the top heavy or a savage wall of noise. in fact I've heard bands that sound heavier with just one. The real purpose of having so many guitarists is to keep the ghastly atmosphere at all times and in some occasions to make it even ghastlier with ghost-like leads mixed with brilliant heavy guitar passages. Basically, one guitar can play palm muted guitar riffs while the other two play phantasmal leads (Death Becomes Him comes to my mind). So overall, the 3 guitarists do their job perfectly and make your head band most of the times.
Even though the drumming incorporated in this album is nothing unique or special, the sound of the drum kit is very solid and keeps up with the riffs and the vocals at all times, specially the bass drum; I like how the bass drum sounds like a click and yet manages to add its part as a bass drum, creating a very equilibrated clean sound, unlike many bands who either just go for the lowest drum bass sound and bury its sound below all the instruments or go for the ''clickier'' sound and make it sound like a computer mouse click.
Now, without any kind of rant intended, let me talk about their most despicable aspect for most metallers. The ''breakdowns''. Of course, most of deathcore breakdowns sound ridiculously boring, but just try not to think about Bring Me The Horizon when you listen to this album, instead think about Suffocation. This Is Exile has indeed several breakdowns, but not in the vein of karate-kid temper tantrum dance breakdowns you might be thinking about. Possession, This Is Exile and Messiahbolical (my personal favorite) incorporate these slow tempo breaking down parts in a very enjoyable and catchy way. Of course, their best parts are when they play fast and brutal Bloodbath-esque death metal riffs, but the breakdowns are not that disappointing either.
The only real flaw I found is the old school hardcore chorus that they use in Messiahbolical. I know I said it's my personal favorite, but I can't help it but laugh everytime I hear the whole band yelling ''this is what... we've become!''. Those kind of vocals only sound good when you play hardcore punk, thrash or crossover, you know, something political and against the system. When you use them in something that's supposed to be demonic and obscure, it's just hilarious and pointless.
If you are willing to accept and enjoy their ''core'' passages, you will not repent for getting this album. It's not that brutal or that heavy, hell, it's no Condemned or Nile but you should still get your hands on this release.
Transferring from their deal with Siege of Amida/Candlelight over to Metal Blade, the more secure home of fellow deathcore mavens Job for a Cowboy, Whitechapel returned to the millstone to churn out their sophomore This is Exile the year after their debut hit the shelves and ipods of cool kids everywhere, and its contents hit and bruised the pretty faces of many an anguished youth during the band's breakdown centric live performances. This time, no expense was spared, as the band commissioned some better artwork and had the album recorded and mastered in New England, the latter job handled by the infamous metalcore production guru Zeuss out in western Massachusetts.
Considering this, the result is pretty astonishingly similar to the debut album, with perhaps a larger flair for melodic death metal running in currents through the band's brickhouse chug off breakdowns. Some added technicality is to be expected, and thus the album is busier overall, what with the band keeping their three guitar approach to composition (that is really only felt in the leaden bottom end and full rhythm segments behind the breakaway melodies), but it still feels like a mix of the same mosh core and trendy melodic death, with vocals that once again conjure up a mix of Vader, Behemoth or Morbid Angel guttural aggression with the layered on snarls you expect from a lot of modern brutal death. The breakdowns are here, still, and very rarely any good, tending to leech away the bursts of the title track or "Exalt", the latter of which has some decent little lead licks and atmospheric touches that disappear into a wall of fist fucking djent fury.
One area in which the band have clearly improved is in the lyrics. No more will you find the sadistic sexual surgery of the debut. The band seem to have moved on to higher brow concepts like sacrilege and undead social rebellion. Granted, they can hardly be dubbed 'poetic' or even all that interesting, but it seems a little more fitting to the band's aural aesthetic. The mix here is brighter and bloodier than the debut, and perhaps more welcoming since the band have upped their melodic ante considerably. Ultimately, I feel like This is Exile is a slight step up from The Somatic Defilement. It's more thoughtful, but still pretty frustrating, with the best track being a 3 minute melodic chugging instrumental... ("Death Becomes Him") and almost everything else flipping its lid between forgettable thrusting rhythms, semi-tech showmanship and trendy beat downs. This is one dance partner you're not going to remember in the morning, regardless of what venereal ailment you've picked up.
Can an explosion be moderated? Can spontaneous combustion be contained or controlled? If “This is Exile” is anything to go by, adding accuracy and composure to flaming rage has incredible consequences, for this is a manic tour de force the likes of which I have never experienced from Whitechapel’s piss-weak peers in the generic genre of deathcore.
Generally, deathcore is a metal-by-numbers kind of genre, an easy transition into heavy music for scene kids who are tiring of their Trivium albums. Bands like Belay my Last and Carnifex all have the same formulaic approach to creating pseudo-death metal sounds with adolescent aggressive lyrics, chunky percussive guitar riffs and drums loaded with double-bass. Whitechapel, however, have just turned it all on its head.
Don’t mistake this for an album that is genre-defying, though. It is still undoubtedly deathcore, with all the aforementioned shortcomings. I don’t know when the bands, and more importantly, the fans, will tire of the chug-chug palm-muted guitars and drop-tuned riffs that define this genre. But Whitechapel does it all with a twist, there’s a sense of real urgency and sincere anger on this album. Some of the songs feature very interesting structures and ideas, something that is clearly amiss with the thousands of other deathcore bands out there. Songs like “Possession” and “To All That Are Dead” even feature some melodic guitar-work and very progressive interludes. This album also did away with the obligatory one-minute album intro consisting of distorted synths and/or horror movie sample/serial killer interview that every deathcore band seems to have(including Whitechapel themselves on their debut album). So “This is Exile” isn’t genre-defying, but quite possibly genre-defining instead.
Right from the first few seconds on the opener “Father of Lies” the brutality rears its metal head and it doesn’t let up until the end. This album incorporates all the best elements from its genre, sometimes even leaving the cursed “-core” suffix away altogether, using excellent songwriting and irresistible rhythms to generate bursts of compulsive fury from start to finish. Utilizing even doom riffs and time signatures at times, the atmosphere on “This is Exile” is very heavy. Every song puts the listener on a precipice, expecting Whitechapel to drop you mercilessly into aural assault, head-first, which they do. Again and again. Every song is memorable and addictively aggressive, but not in a mindless Cannibal Corpse way. The clever songwriting will ensure repeated listens even after you have grown numb to the brutality.
As with most deathcore songs, the songs here have “hooks”, those memorable, somewhat anthemic sections that get stuck in your head. This is part of deathcore’s appeal, undoubtedly what attracts millions of teenagers to the genre. So maybe the lyrics aren’t too original, and deathcore isn’t ideally anyone’s favorite genre, but this album is irresistible! The breakdown on the title track, amongst many others, is monstrously heavy and impulsive headbanging cannot be helped. Narrow-minded pretension will prevent many from enjoying Whitechapel, but honestly, if you refuse to hear an album based on the fact that it is deathcore and that the songs have breakdowns, you are no better than the black metal elitists.
The vocals are infinitely better than any other deathcore band, even the higher-pitched vocals, usually a scathing irritation in deathcore, are bearable and at times enjoyable. The growls, however, are the truly excellent part here, being guttural and deep, true death metal with better range than even real death metal bands like Nile or Cannibal Corpse can muster. The deep vocals sound awesome, with immense power and aggression throughout the album. The three guitarists create a very interesting sound, enhancing the rhythm guitar sections, making it all sound enormous. There is hardly any need for bass with the amount of brutality the two rhythm guitars convey! The drums are pummeling and perfectly tuned, with double-bass and blast beats being particularly impressive.
Unfortunately, certain deathcore weaknesses occasionally stain through the immense tapestry of sound. There are riffs, like near the end of “Somatically Incorrect”, that are downright irritating. Also, the instrumental “Death Becomes Him” is not very strong, rather redundant. But the utter worst element of deathcore, bad enough to almost cause me to disregard the entire genre, is hardcore shouty vocals! The group shouting is nauseating, it is an infectious disease that ruins songs and sometimes entire albums. Thankfully, Whitechapel managed to rein in their desire to use this effect, and they let it out only once, on the 7-minute closing track “Messiahbolical”, and even there it almost ruined an excellent track. There will undoubtedly be sections of this album that will get on your nerves, as all deathcore does, but I urge you to look beyond this and see Whitechapel’s colossal achievement here. Every song is enjoyable and the innovation is unremitting. Whitechapel is by far the most talented deathcore band out there today.
So while “This is Exile” probably won’t replace your favorite Behemoth album, and its playcount on your iPod will slow down after a few weeks, it remains an excellent effort as far as deathcore goes. Whitechapel is a class act and I hope they continue to release quality albums. So, is deathcore the new death metal? God I hope not. The repetition and feigned anger will kill me long before becoming a scene kid will make me kill myself. But perhaps Whitechapel will kill the “core” in their sound eventually , and even if they don’t, at least they create hope for the genre.
Two seconds into the first track, we're greeted by a guttural growl which is united with a simplistic but somehow almost memorable riff. At 0:20, we start getting some layered vocals of black metal-reminiscent highs and generic but somehow appreciatively good lows. That's a basic summarization of Whitechapel's second full-length, This Is Exile. It has two groups of songs: a few tracks that stand out and make you stare in disbelief, and then the rest of them. The problem is, that "rest of them" part's content all feels either repetitive, boring, or just plain stupid.
Let's get down to the most important part of the review: the musical content. The second-best song on this album is the title track. Almost immediately, on top of a bunch of mindless, unimportant guitar riffs, you hear a fast set of vocals...Wait, rapping in deathcore? (I've seen everything now.) Admittedly, it sounds a bit stupid, but it's still ten times better than the "br00tal mast3r" vocals of Wanking the Cadaver's vocalist. Then we head into the "chorus", if you can call it that (it appears exactly once in the whole song), The song then proceeds to go into a breakdown, and then an even SLOWER breakdown. It's quite well performed, though, so it's not as much of a bother as it sounds. Then the song picks up tempo again, and Phil Bozeman showcases his black metal vocals. Then the song slows down AGAIN (seriously, what the fuck?) and we get a breakdown until the end of the song. Great. But where the album really shines is the last track, "Messiahbolical". It's the slowest song with vocals on the album, and it quite efficiently serves the purpose of being the epic closure to this album. It resembles a slam-death song quite well as it chugs along for about three minutes, reaching the climax of the song at 1:50, when Phil Bozeman goes as guttural as possible while backed by a streaming double-bass pedal but a forgettable guitar riff. Everything stops at around 3:30 and the song goes into an ambient guitar riff for about two and a half minutes. This ambience would be appreciated if it were better spaced; instead, it develops all the instruments in two separate parts, instead of steadily adding onto the instruments already playing. Near the end of the ambience, it all breaks down into...well, a breakdown, which continues until the end of the song. I might add that this is the only song on the album that utilizes the guitars with memorability; the rest of the time it's either melodic to the point of cheesiness or background noise.
Sadly, as a Whitechapel fan, I must admit that those are the only high marks I can give to this album, besides the cool album cover, which is pretty memorable. The rest of the album is ridiculous for one reason or another. "Father of Lies" lacks no hook in the instruments or the vocals whatsoever; "To All That Are Dead" has a good beginning and a decent ending coupled with (you guessed it) a breakdown but has nothing outstanding otherwise; "Somatically Incorrect" starts as a breakdown and sounds just like "Father of Lies" with gutturals; and "Eternal Refuge" is slow but it comes across as less "epic" and more "we're too lazy to bring up the tempo although we're perfectly capable of doing so". Later in this song, we come to the slowest breakdown of this album. Not Emmure or Bring Me The Hairspray "slow", but slow enough to where it's not able to be taken seriously. "Exalt" has a decent double-bass and pretty good riffs, which might make it qualify as the third best song, but there's an awkward moment midway where Guy Kozowyk from The Red Chord chimes in. Even amongst the growls he's perfectly able to hit, he raises his voice to speaking level and sounds like a teenager who has just discovered his first pubic hair and is cheering happily for joy, which ruins the song not only metaphorically but literally, as the rest of the song has nothing else of notice. "Possession" starts promising with an extremely addicting polyrhythmic beginning, but it fades after 20 seconds and the band drops all the momentum and potential the song had, sets it on fire, and stomps it to ash, then continues wherever their "creative genius" leads them, which, in this song, turns out to be nowhere. The instrumentals are extremely boring, as Whitechapel's guitarists seem to lack any real melody even when they are the only thing really standing out. "Death Becomes Him" is a slow snorefest as the guitarists repeat notes over and over again until you almost want to stab the CD. "Of Legions" is the intro to "Messiahbolical", but it's too long, it tries to be ambient but fails, and to the listener, it appears to be just random noise while he/she waits for the music to start. Then, halfway in, the music DOES start, and guess what it is? That's right; a BREAKDOWN! Ugh, seriously, haven't there been enough of these on this album already? The Somatic Defilement was full of breakdowns, but they were well-placed and only used when necessary. Here, they're everywhere for no real reason. But I digress. The worst song on this album, by far, is the "great" song "Daemon: The Procreated". This utterly shittastic song starts with a breakdown, then as soon as that's over, Whitechapel tries really hard to create a melody but fails so utterly, it's laughable. It sounds like they put every single note from a guitar onto their MP3 player as an individual song, shuffled it, and played whatever came out. The layered vocals then shout "Daemon" over and over and OVER. We get more breakdowns and forgettable riffs, then the end of the song arrives. A breakdown, of course. Phil shouts "This is the end of all life". If this was performed properly it would have given the song a redeeming quality; however, they even had to fuck THIS up by putting a fade-in effect on the vocals. So now instead of an angry Phil-Bozeman Demon growling this, we have what sounds like a constipated man on the toilet shouting "THIS IS THE END OF ALL LIFE", which is so terrible that it's hilarious.
Another weak point is the lyrics. Apparently, after dropping the subject of Jack the Ripper, Whitechapel realized that they have nothing worthwhile to actually talk about. So they go on and on...about nothing. At some points, the lines are so cheesy and stupid you wonder how grown men could even think of them without putting marujuana into the mix. Take for example this beautiful gem from "Possession":
"I am glad to inform, you're all in a world of shit,
Coprophagia would be the only solution,
Open your fucking mouth and ingest what you are"
Like, what the fuck? It might have been a good spur-of-the-moment line, but seriously, did none of the six members look at this (two of the three guitarists stand around doing practically nothing; they probably could have done it while they were sitting on their asses) and say "this sounds like something a seven-year-old would say"? It's just pathetic. Some advice for Whitechapel: please don't fool me into thinking you let some random brain-damaged wiggers write the lyrics to all your songs, because I would just as well believe that.
Overall, if you're a wigger or a scene kid who buys music to prove how hardcore you are, this album is a prime choice. However, if you're a person who looks to music for enjoyment, try one of Whitechapel's other two albums, or even better, a Behemoth or Nile album. If you're buying on iTunes, only buy the title track and "Messiahbolical", as the rest will only serve to bring down your view of those two songs. And please, for your own good, try to ignore the (majority of the) breakdowns, and your life will be that much sweeter.
So this is the follow-up album of "The Somatic Defilement", by infamous deathcore band Whitechapel. Little girls and boys who look like girls wear this band on their shirts all the time. Only one little problem: this is NOT deathcore. This is blackened death metal at its finest. The "metalheads" who constantly bash this record have not looked at it from a musician's perspective, and since I am a vocalist/bassist/keytarist, I know the talent of these guys. Anyways, on to the review.
When I first popped this album in, I pressed play and expected a breakdown. I got a full on death metal ear assault. The opening track "Father of Lies" ripped through my speakers and hit me with the lowest growl I have ever heard. Oh, did I mention this is only the first 5-10 seconds of the song? The rest of the album rips just as well.
The guitar department is certainly one of the heftier ones in death metal. Lead guitarist Ben Savage and rhythm guitarists Alex Wade and Zach Householder bring some killer riffs. On songs like "This is Exile" and "To All That Are Dead", Zach and Alex riff away with harmonies and chugga-chugga riffs (in the enjoyable way), while Ben Savage adds ambience effects and killer harmonics and solos to add this "blackened" feel to the music. All songs have this, including the closing track "Messiahbolical", a 7 minute epic. The guitars build along with the killer bass and drum lines up into the climax of the song, and you are stuck wondering "How can scenesters enjoy this?". Truly fantastic guitar performance.
The vocals are certainly nothing to laugh at either. Phil Bozeman has a fantastic range, and his dual vocals compliment each other very well. His high growls in "Posession", "Eternal Refuge", and "This Is Exile" make your bones shake, and ask you "Does Shagrath know about this?!?". His growls are insanely gutteral (listen to the opening growl for "Father of Lies"; sets the tone for the album). Phil gives his best, and it pays off.
I wish I could say something more than "Where is the bass, Gabe?" for Gabe Crisp's performance. That's the reason this didn't get a perfect score. You can't hear the bass on any song. "Father of Lies" is a pure guitar assault song, and so are the rest for the most part. In "Messiahbolical", he adds a bass line behind the guitars in the mid-song clean break that gives a chill down your spine and leaves you craving more bass sounds. I know Gabe is a fantastic bassist, and hopefully, the next release will be his shining moment.
The drums are fucktardedly fantastic. Kevin Lane is the star of this record. His jazzy-influenced playing on songs such as "Exalt" and "Somatically Incorrect" make for a damn good death listen. His intro rolls on "This Is Exile" and "Father of Lies" create an expression on your face that will be hard to get rid of. His drumming is competent, intense, and chaotic; yet, he keeps it all contained. Best drum performance on a metal record in a long time.
As a whole, this album is fantastic, and a refreshing and original listen. While some "deathcore" bands like Emmure and Bring Me The Horizon are giving this genre a bad name, Whitechapel will lay them to permanent rest. Everything on this album, every song on this album, even the artwork, is necessary to create the atmosphere Whitechapel was going for. Buy this record today, and you will love every goddamned second of it.
Good job lads! Can't wait for the next one!
This is what gets people so angry? Really? Seems a bit strange, compared to many a modern metal band this isn't really so bad. Funny how people have no problem accepting various folk and symphonic metal variants, yet this is considered to be rubbish. I'd take this over Nightwish or Korpiklaani anyday. At least it's got short songs and doesn't have all of these grand pretentions. No operatic female vocals, either.
It basically sounds like a more slapstick version of death metal, I guess; everything's exaggerated a bit, made a bit cartoony. Breakdowns are more, well, breakdowny, vocals are pitch shifted for a bit more gutturalness, most riffs are made solely for the purpose of getting kids all violent and energetic. Honestly, I wish we had this stuff when I was 13, it's a hell of a lot better then Limp Bizkit. For simple stuff-designed-to-sell-to-angry-teenagers goes, this really isn't so bad?
Not to say it's amazing, but you could do worse then this album, yeah. There's no bree bree, the vocals aren't too pitch shifted (although dual vocals were a terrible idea). There's riffs and a few melodies, somewhere in between the copious, guitars-as-percussion breakdowns. Drums don't seem terribly triggered, there's a bit of a mix in tempos. I'm of the opinion that if Whitechapel were willing to get out of the half time feel they're almost permanently stuck in, they'd be a decent enough band.
As it stands, though, they fall short of decent. Dual vocals, for one thing: that's an automatic 10% deduction. Lack of solos isn't a huge thing, but a few more widdly widdly bits would certainly go down well; most of the time the guitars are stuck to the bottom 5 or so frets, doing their best to sound like distorted bongos. It's no surprise that the best song, "To All that Are Dead" has a solo. It's just a nice distraction from the stringed percussion. Probably the main thing is just a simple lack of real memorable riffs. Nothing really sticks in your head here, seeing as most of the faster riffs are hopelessly generic DM ones- or that Metalcore sort of riffing with a bit of extra distortion, and it doesn't take too long before every breakdown sounds like the one before, and short of listening to this 50 or so times (not recommended) you'll have no idea which song is which- save perhaps "Messiahbolical", which stands out by virtue of it's gang vocals and detour into, I dunno, slowed down deathcore with synths (slam doom?).
It also doesn't really seem like they're trying terribly hard, either. It's always a bitch move, labelling an album as "uninspired", but this album really fits that term. Whereas, say, Waking the Cadaver seem to put everything they have - which isn't much - into their breakdown-fests, Whitechapel seem to just coast along, never really sounding angry, never playing to their full extent. It sounds like a bunch of session musicians playing a death core record. The faster sections don't really sound aggressive or visceral enough; Whitechapel always seem to play in their comfort zone, instead of perhaps getting a bit faster, meaner, and riffier. Maybe it's just the large amount of breakdowns that make this seem tired - when they launch into their next breakdown (for there's always another breakdown with Whitechapel) you get the feeling that (surprise surprise) they're just going through the motions, said motions being heavy palm muting on open strings.
I wouldn't recommend this. If you're a kid who wants something designed for your unbearable, world-is-against-me angst, I'd suggest Korn's Follow the Leader, which to this day is easily the best record of its' kind. Honestly though, as far as mainstream metal goes, this band is the least of your worries.
What the fuck happened? That’s the first question that comes to mind upon listening to this album. Whitechapel’s first album could be summed up as: decent death metal riffs with a slight core influence, that were unfortunately ruined by a shitload of breakdowns. This album can be summed up as: a shitload of breakdowns.
Each song has a variety of riffs…and a ton of breakdowns. The saddest part is that their old decency isn’t totally gone. Every once in a while a good riff appears. In fact, there’s usually one every song or two. Sometimes, get ready to be blown away, there’re TWO good riffs in a song! These are usually intros. The intro to Possession is great; I’m not even going to attempt to deny it. It sounds Meshuggah influenced and is heavy and intriguing. Unfortunately, the rest of the song fails to live up to the high standard set by the intro. They took the best riff on the whole album and than made an utterly shit song out of it. Good job, assholes.
All the songs are pretty damn similar. You have your intro riff, perhaps a filler riff or two, followed by a breakdown. Than you’ll have a more melodic bit and than another breakdown followed by a bit more filler. Not every song goes in that order, but every song contains those parts and just sews them up in a different (and just as stupid) order. Well, that’s not totally true. Some are dumber. Some START with breakdowns. That’s the absolute low of breakdowns. I mean, think about it for a fucking second! It’s a break - down. Look at those words and think about what they mean. It means that you’re breaking down from something. A scientist would breakdown a composite to find out what it’s made of. A businessman would break down his plan into the most essential parts before showing it to his boss. A breakdown in a good song extracts the essence of everything that had gone before and than bludgeons you over the head with it. It takes away all the fancy trimmings and shows you the relentlessly primitive core of the music. It contrasts what has gone before it. What does a breakdown at the beginning of a song do? What the fuck is it breaking down? The silence before the song? The last shit song? I honestly don’t know. It’s a breakdown for the sake of a breakdown. It’s the band going, ‘hey, scene kids could dance right here! They’d love it!’ and sticking it in for absolutely no musical reason whatsoever. Then again, there’re worse things than starting with a breakdown. Like starting with a breakdown and having it FADE IN. What the fuck were they thinking? Fade ins and breakdowns make no sense together.
That’s pretty much the pattern with a ton of these songs. There’s a good riff, which draws you in and makes you think, ‘hey, maybe this song will be good!’ Unfortunately, no song manages to be good – or even decent – the whole way through.
I’ve already mentioned (several times) that a huge majority of these songs are composed of breakdowns. That on its own doesn’t mean that the album will be bad. Dying Fetus and Devourment are about fifty percent breakdowns, yet I love both of those bands. That’s because they write GOOD breakdowns. See, it’s not enough to write a breakdown. That alone doesn’t make a song brutal, or heavy, or whatever the fuck Whitechapel is trying to accomplish. See, breakdowns, like riffs, aren’t made equal. There are good breakdowns, and then there are bad breakdowns. These are bad breakdowns. They’re pointless, breakdowns for the sake of breakdowns. Utterly worthless. There’s MAYBE two good breakdowns on the whole list and when I say good breakdowns, I don’t mean great. I mean tolerable. Somewhat tolerable. That’s what, a point o’ one batting average (considering the stunning amount of chugging displayed on this CD)? For a band whose sole focus seems to be breakdowns, that’s not a good thing.
The guitars on this album are technically proficient, but, for the most part, are completely un-enjoyable to listen to. The majority of the riffing is comprised of endless chugs. There are a few decent riffs, but they’re few and far between. There are also several melodic passages. Some of these are surprisingly good. In fact, I’m willing to say that they are the ONLY improvement over the first album. Of course, several of them have breakdowns playing behind them, which completely nullifies the whole concept of a melodic riff (not to mention the concept of a breakdown). I just have to ponder the thought process behind this. Did the lead guitarist start playing a melodic riff and the rest of the band start to feel left out? Even assuming that the breakdowns were good – rest assured, they’re not – combining them with a melodic riff is a downright stupid idea. Do they believe that two good things simply ALWAYS equal a better thing? Would the band members like chocolate and barbecue sauce? After all, they’re both good, why wouldn’t they be better together?
Whitechapel apparently believe, ‘the same more is better!’ thing about guitarists. If two guitarists were heavy…then three would be like, really brutal! Dur! Three guitars are flat out not necessary for the majority of this. The music alternates between having two guitars chug and one play a melodic lead and having three guitars chug. The band apparently tries to have the two chugging guitars and the lead guitars interact and harmonize. On paper, this actually sounds like an awesome idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out quite as well as it sounds. See, the total of times that all the guitars did ANY sort of harmony is in the single digits. The low single digits. In fact, I think it’s two. Maybe there’s one or two more I missed, but I don’t think so. Well, ‘what’s the big deal with using three guitars?’ you might say. I guess you’d be right, as it doesn’t cause any specific new breed of awfulness. It doesn’t propel them to new heights of shit, I suppose. Does it make the riffs heavier? No, but it doesn’t make them actively WORSE either. Hell, without the third guitarists odds are that the melodic bits would be removed and all that would be left would be the breakdowns. Still, the third guitar completely and utterly drowns out the bass. As to why no deathcore bands have audible bass I honestly have no clue. It would make them a bit heavier, which seems to be their entire purpose in life. Alas, as of yet no band has incorporated the strange and (apparently, to them,) useless instrument into their music.
Like most deathcore bands the drummer is by far the most skilled musician of the group. Unfortunately, he, like the majority of the album, is significantly worse than he was on the first album. His beats are more generic and he relies on blasting as a crutch far more. On the positive side he CAN blast without it sounding awkward and forced, a skill which many of his compatriots have yet to master. Double bass drum driven sections are far rarer than on the first album, and the drums sound far worse to boot. On the upside, the cymbals sound better. On the downside everything sounds more triggered and just overall more generic. Good tradeoff…if listening to supposedly brutal metronome esque clicks gets you off.
This brings us to (one of) the worst let downs of the album: the vocalist and the lyrics. On the first album the vocalist was great and was one of the highlights of the album. That certainly isn’t the case here. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the vocalist suffered a stroke in-between recordings. In the first album the vocals were varied and enjoyable. Low gutturals, high shrieks and more mid level assaults all traded places rapidly. Here ninety percent of the vocals resort to the guttural style. Not only that, but they’re a dozen times worse than they were before. They’re the epitome of generic deathcore gutturals. They’re ‘tuff guy’ personified. The other styles are used rarely and almost every time they are there’s some form of double tracking going on. One or two vocal lines are layered to the point where it just sounds like a computer trying to take a shit on you. The main offender with regards to this is one of the best melodic bits on the album. I guess the vocalist didn’t like being left out, cause the second he came in the riff turned to shit.
The vocalist also never shuts up. He frequently ruins good riffs by holding one of the ever prevalent long, drawn out shit notes that –core bands love. This reminds the rest of the band that they’ve been playing a decent riff for far too long and that it’s about time for a breakdown. And then, if the vocalist is in a particularly tuff mood, another breakdown after that! Not all the singing is guttural, or even harsh. During the last track, Messiahbolical, there is an example of a clean gang style chorus. Now, I listen to hardcore punk quite frequently. Gang choruses can have their place. They can give a song more energy and an empowering feel. Not so here. They just feel out of place and awful.
The Somatic Defilement’s lyrics all focused on Jack the Ripper. Being one of the coolest serial killers of all time he undoubtedly boosted the albums score significantly. The lyrics were well done and (while some liberties were taken with the facts) portrayed a grim tale of horror and murder. After all, a true tale that contains grisly murders is infinitely more disturbing than fantasy murders. What’s darker than reality? Well, apparently, the answer is fantasy. Generic, shitty, done to death, fantasy. The lyrics here are –core to the core. Let’s take a little excerpt from Possession: ‘We love the disease!’ Or maybe, ‘We (chug) are (chug) the (chug) disease! (chug) disease! (chug) disease!’ Well, isn’t that just super! Got any other intricate tidbits of philosophy? Well, they do. ‘Fuck your faith! Fuck your kind! Fuck your ways! Fuck your world!’ God damn it, it’s like misanthropy for scene kids.
Go back, and skim through what’s been said so far. As you do so look for references to the bands first album. They’re everywhere. It’s as if I was comparing Divine Intervention to Reign in Blood and saying how it failed to live up to it. There’s only one problem with that comparison. Reign in Blood was a great album. The Somatic Defilement got a forty-five. If your standards are THAT low and you fail THIS hard, than something is wrong. The band went from innovative, and somewhat melodic, death metal with breakdowns to generic Deathcore. It’s dumbed down from the first album in EVERY way. The drums are simpler. The guitars chug more and have less interesting riffs. The vocalist is a generic tough guy moron. The songwriting sucks. Breakdowns are everywhere. The band started at decent, made a U-turn, and drove off a fucking cliff. It all provokes a simply question:
What happened? WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED!?
I can only think of one reason why this happened. After Whitechapel finished recording their twenty minute first EP (sorry, album) they had a problem. See, their pals, the good old-fashioned Deathcore crowd, didn’t like it. It was too complex. The vocals were too interesting and devoid of –core influence. The lyrics were too intelligent. And what the fuck were all those things between the breakdowns? Ugh! So, Whitechapel had a simple choice. They could either be an innovative and slightly interesting death metal band…or they could be Deatchore. They chose the latter. They jam packed the Somatic Defilement full of breakdowns, and in the process defiled the charm that the album once possessed. They added in what felt like ten minutes full of shitty breakdowns and called it a day. Any death metal fan that was in the mood for some mildly unique and pleasant music was required to wade through swamps of shitty breakdowns to get to it. Still, the majority of the musical terrain was made up of super slick and enjoyable highways and the times when it was required to push your own vehicle through a swamp of shit were rare.
Well, the proportions are a bit different here. Now the whole thing is a fucking swamp and at (rare) times you see an old and half rotted away Rope Bridge hanging above the filthy water. Every time you grab onto it and think that you’ll escape, the bridge breaks in half and breakdowns rush in at you from all sides. See, apparently, Whitechapel’s friends still didn’t like them. The album was still far too musically complex. Why did there have to be all those long shitty bits where the music wasn’t just a series of mosh-able (sorry, danceable) chugs?
So, Whitechapel changed. They dumbed their sound down. They took every intriguing element of their music and strangled it before shitting on it and throwing it into the swamp of human feces that is made up of the breakdowns of this album. Bits of ripped flesh drifted to the surface and that was all that was left of the now deceased decency of this now idolized band. You know what I think? I think that if someone went through this whole thing they could actually make a halfway decent four-minute song out of the parts. Unfortunately, this album isn’t a four-minute song. It’s a forty-two minute album, and every other minute of it is filled up with Deathcore. You know what those little bits are? It’s Whitechapel spitting on their few old death metal fans. It’s them saying, ‘we still CAN write good music, we’d just rather write generic deathcore cause it sells.’ It’s there fuck you to their fans and I’m more than happy to respond in kind. FUCK YOU TOO, WHITECHAPEL!
This album is awful. Do not buy it. Don’t even download it. If you’re interested if it’s possible to see deathcore done right, go buy the Somatic Defilement and take a long drawn out shit while the breakdowns play. If you loved the riffing in the Somatic Defilement, don’t get this, as said riffing is lying dead and mutilated in breakdown swamp. There is absolutely no reason to get this album, short of being a fan of generic deathcore, of course. You know what the sad part is? This band once held promise. That is dead now. Whitechapel is dead now. The last hope that Deathcore ever had to redeem itself is dead. And for god’s sake…STAY AWAY FROM ITS PUTRID CORPSE.
My second foray into the "detestable" genre of deathcore (the first being THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEAD, who I also thoroughly enjoy), upon both my curiousity to see what all the hate is about, and hopefully to find a more interesting form of extreme music. I'd been up to my neck in black metal since the late 90s, with almost daily exposure, and though I still love black metal and find it my favourite genre, bands nowadays are doing little to nothing in terms of keeping the style interesting; if nothing else they're obviously retreading familier territory, only cheaper and more hackneyed. So off I went, quite disenchanted, to various websites to sample newer bands who would hopefully pique my interest and help me continue my enjoyment of extreme music. TTEOTD's "Bloodlust” was the first album bought that got me interested in deathcore, as was WHITECHAPEL’s “This is Exile”.
Not that I need to defend myself against naysayers and further musical detractors, but I will mention that I am NO deathcore “fanboy”, as I obviously know the difference between death metal and deathcore; never will I think JOB FOR A COWBOY’s “Genesis” is a “death metal classic” on par with “Blessed are the Sick” or “Butchered at Birth”. The thing is, I love music that interests me, and it’s not always metal. When it comes to metal music, however, I dig bands that try a different approach in which the final outcome is entertaining (after all, that’s what makes metal the amorphous, immortal beast it is, its ability to be altered and reshaped, but still be considered metal). My new interest in deathcore is not without a critical ear, though...obviously a few deathcore bands are simple hacks definately not worth the hype (JOB FOR A COWBOY, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER), or just plain god-awful shit (EMMURE, WITH BLOOD COMES CLEANSING), but WHITECHAPEL is a band who ended up overcoming the shitstorm and puts out some rather interesting and caustic music, apparently more “death” than “core” for me.
My interest in WHITECHAPEL also came about due to my long-running fascination with Jack the Ripper (THE best serial killer in my book, as his victims deserved their fate), and that connection paid off in full. “This is Exile” is an album that’s seen a lot of play time in my CD player and helps paint a bleak, unforgiving musical picture peppered with claustrophobic guitar work, sledgehammering drumming and insideous vocals churning out some rather well-written lyrics (a rarity in both death and extreme metal these days), with a production that leaves the music as dark and unforgiving as it can possibly be. And yes, I forgive the band’s usage of breakdowns, as at times they can be used intelligently and help the music flow well into the more deathy riffs (“Possessed”, “Father of Lies” and the title track being prime examples). Said riffing is also well performed and, actually, quite memorable, both the crushing death metal bludgeoning and melodic calisthenics now somewhat common in the genre. Another high mark given to the band is their lack of “pig squealing” vocals, which is a definate plus; nothing but non-stop bitter growls and screams, very above average for such a young band, spouting the aformentioned well-written lyrics that have more frightening imagery of death than most modern death/grind bands out there (I’d prefer mind-fuck death lyrics over graphic surgical procedures any day; it shows more creativity).
So in the end, I seem to have been immersed into deathcore and continue to live to tell the tale. “This is Exile” isn’t the end-all-be-all death album, but I’ll be damned if I don’t find it a very enjoyable distraction from the menial “talents” of modern underground metal. It’s any wonder why deathcore strangles metalcore in its sleep to be the more dominant genre these days; some of these bands deserve the attention. These guys are one of them.
What we have here is what I personally would call the perfect combination of the Death and Core elements.This is a good and bad thing.That being said the album has a ton of energy and is actually quite enjoyable. However it does suffer its problems (as expected in any core related metal release ) Time to "Break" it "down".
*I for one enjoyed the contrasting styles the vocalists shows in this album. He manages to throw a variety of styles at you. These include gutturals, death grunts, mid ranged growls,shrieks, and of course the Hard Core screams/ chants. The nice part is each style is never overdone and the vocals change often never leaving you bored.The lyrics aren't bad (nothing special but not totally uninteresting) and the vocalists makes sure you can comprehend him the majority of the time (minus a few gutteral moments).
*These guys have thrown in some very interesting riffs within their songs. They have some nice melodic portions, \ death metal influenced riffs,darker more black metal sounding riffs, and of course the less intense (but not THAT bad )metal core sounding sections. I enjoyed the majority of the riffs when these guys weren't playing breakdowns. In fact a majority of the stuff played here is well done and very catchy and nice on the ears of metal . However some of the riffs are far from perfect,... but not terrible. You are going to find a ton of influences in this band ranging from Nile to many others.
*Of course you already saw this coming with a death core release. The lame uninspired breakdowns that are found throughout this album. Don't get me wrong I'm no metal elitist that hates anything core related, but come on we don't need a breakdown leading into a breakdown. These aren't interesting breakdowns , I'm talking your standard generic core break downs with one note, and the vocalist chanting something. To the band: WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR THIS IN EVERY FUCKING SONG! Most songs are often packed with (but not entirely enough for me to hate the music as with some bands) of these breakdowns.
*Three fucking guitars? That is totally unnecessary for a core band to have this many guitarists, or any band for the matter. The bass is totally covered by guitar and often I can never hear it, minus in a few spots in a few songs.
*Shitty electronic sections, do I even need to explain? Cheesy string synth at times as well, this has no place in death metal.
*The song "Of Legions", an instrumental. The riffs are for the most part boring and overplayed and the breakdowns rear their ugly head most of the time.
*White Chapel has shifted away from their former lyrical content of Jack the Ripper and moved onto other things. The lyrics consist of Armageddon, new world order, the purging of mankind, and the traditional death metal subject of murder and hunting down someone, and watching them die. I for one am glad, as the earlier subject of Jack the Ripper consisted of mutilating prostitutes, and I for one believe this subject matter is generic,boring, overused and misogynistic. So good job on that guys.
These guys get a 70 as a final score. If they took out the breakdowns the said score would be much higher. If you're into Death Metal give this album a listen and you "may" like it. Any fan of Death core I assure you, you will really enjoy this album. While Death core (in my opinion) is a flawed genre these guys actually pulled it off quite well.
I had the misfortune of seeing Whitechapel on Summer Slaughter ’08 tour, well actually I blame myself for going to that shitty tour but it’s hard to miss the chance to see Vader and Kataklysm aye? So anyway Whitechapel was opening and I knew they were deathcore so I wasn’t expecting much. I was against the railing in the venue and there was a small guy standing next to me, decked out in a sideways hat, sagging tight jeans that were definitely girls pants, a Job for a Cowboy shirt and an arm band that said ATL. Wow, where to begin… he turned to me and said, “Dude I’m so fuckin’ ‘cited bout fuckin’ Whitechapel man! So fuckin’ brutal bro, you like death metal?” I preceded to turn around and ignore him knowing full well he knew nothing about death metal. I finally told him politely to go back to listening to rap or listen to real death metal like Vader and Kataklysm.
Anyway the show began and it was literally 15 minutes of breakdowns and pathetic fans headbanging to every brutal breakdown and throwning the ‘claw’ and making those stupid fucking expressions, like as if you were actually holding a hot burning piece of coal. So I take it the horns is gone? Yeah who needs to horns, that’s for old guys like Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi and Lemmy Kilmister…
Oh yeah, Whitechapel. So they’ve released their second pathetic effort in deathcore/wannabe death metal ‘music’. It’s obviously so fake, it almost comes off right away as a brutal death metal act, since pretty much every song starts off with deep gutturals that might, just might be a brutal death metal band but end up then turning to high shrieks and more Black Dahlia Murder wannabe switching vocal approach. The instruments here are pathetic; I have never witnessed more of a pathetic guitar tone or even lead guitar. Wait, there is no lead guitar; nothing here other than brief spites of melody and stupidity in ‘lead’ guitar showmanship. The guitar tone is so weak it’s brittle as a stick, anyone saying this falls under the category of ‘brutal’ deathCORE don’t know what ‘brutal’ is. The guitars are compromised of weak guitar riffs that barely find themselves lost behind the drumming annoying vocals; especially in Somatically Incorrect the guitars are only heard about a quarter into the song when the drumming starts. Other than this the only time guitars make a comeback is every other 30 seconds with another god damn breakdown. Breakdowns should be used sparingly like in real metal, Slayer uses them at times but not overwhelmingly, and it makes it good. Fuck this breakdown laden album. Seriously, the only thing heavy on this record is the drumming which at times seems to be competent. That’s the only thing Whitechapel has going for them; and even still it shouldn’t be the case where you listen to any random deathcore band for the drumming, there’s plenty of good drummers out there I could listen to in a real death metal band.
The bass is there probably who the fuck knows or cares it won’t do anything special if it were or not. The worst part of Whitechapel other than the fans and the breakdowns is obviously the vocals. He goes with a similar approach as what the Black Dahlia Murder does with one vocalist changing styles every once in a while except this faggot takes it further and changes every 5 seconds between 4 different styles. It always starts off a song with ultra low and guttural almost semi-brutal death metal then jumps to high shrieks and then back to typical –core vocals all around and then to completely dumb and unnecessary digitalized vocals that something Chris Barnes or nu Anders Friden would do or something so it’s like almost industrial or fake nu metal tough guy shit. It really makes for something you don’t want to listen to unless you like that fake tough guy façade with those electronic-esque vocals; but to most metal fans they’ll see right through the bullshit and realize how annoying this guy is. It’s really apparent in the title track featuring some more frantic changing of pace with this guy mixed with more breakdowns, yipee.
This may seem like a raging anti-deathcore review in pure spite, well it’s not really. I want to warn you that Whitechapel is deathCORE to the very bone, ignore the idiots saying this is enough metal to be legitimately METAL, when it’s not. Fuck this pathetic band, they are brainwashing people and commercializing extreme music by the masses with it’s accessibility in the sound, it’s pathetic and I can’t understand how any real metalhead can be fooled by this. I want to seriously warn people because I see folks going around all the time telling others that Whitechapel is the band to stick with because it’s brutal deathcore or some form of lies. This is the most stereotypical form of breakdown laden deathcore with an edge of wanting to be ‘brutal’ by adding in other fake elements in an attempt to trick real metalheads; fortunately we’re smart enough to realize this… not so much with the other easily brainwashed folk.
As you know, there is little to no good deathcore. It was an abomination made by those fake hardcore kids who didn't even know what death metal is, and butcher and painfully masturbate the techniques commonly found in said genre. However, the bible belt's own deathcore heroes called Whitechapel, on the other band, threw in a rather listenable bang for your buck to their even more tolerable recipe for brutality (as far as the core goes). Showing plenty of influence in death metal, and then some. Its like death metal with strategically placed breakdowns, and some of these breakdowns are peppered with the influence of Meshuggah, believe it or not (check out 'Possession' and be the judge yourself).
Now I will sway from the comparing and contrasting, and move on to the more vital part of this review: constructive critique.
There is plenty of intensity to be found. However, that intensity is coming from an excessive abundance of guitarists, and all those guitars are seven stringed. Now, one may consider this a mode of 'cheating' to achieve this intensity. Perhaps not based on the sole purpose of the use of seven string guitars, as that would be an invalid speculation. Instead, the peculiar instance that they find it necessary to have three guitarists when they could have just settled for just two. Or, to impress a few people, only one. With that said, the guitarwork of Wade, Householder and Savage is notable in the name of deathcore, but nothing a cut above.
To better clarify this criticism, I do not ENTIRELY condone in disagreement with the angel Whitechapel have chosen to take. I do praise them for their brutality. As far as deathcore goes, but by no means brutal within the generality of death metal. As previously stated, you will find some strong death influence. Also, pure grind influence. Which may appear to be minutiae, or completely oblivious to a handful of people.
I was also surprised to learn that the drummer has some good chops. Skillful, if not technical; the blast beats and d-beats alike are fast, comprehensible and can be heard clearly. I was surprised because not that many deathcore-based drummers know how to blast beat. They are often slow and extremely inconsistent with the tempo of the guitarwork (which isn't any better). But when they are not slow, they are only being abused. However, Lane's drumming is proportionate to the tempo and rhythm throughout each song. Everything is not entirely predictable. To an extent, it is actually unpredictable for all its worth.
Lastly, Bozeman's vocals are very well done, and his gutturals and mid-high screams are distributed, where much needed vocal structure is due for this already substantial album. These lyrics are nothing you would expect from a sub-genre of this infamous stature. Both the gore and womanizing overtures may be overdone, no matter what kind of death you listen to. However, it takes craft and subtlety to make it sound just right. No matter how morally wrong it has already sounded, and will. Yet, with more than one theme being employed, it makes everything all worth while.
It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I can pinpoint exactly what kind of metalcore a band plays. In this case, we’ve got melodic deathcore. Guitar melodies which often intertwine with each other moving, between dual attacks like lines supported by chords, shifting into harmonies. A few are Swedish, others are a bit nastier and have some more inspiration. The death metal is present in the form of blast beats, Smith blasts, tremolo picked riffs, and powerful low growls that are similar Nate Johnson (Since The Flood, ex-Deadwater Drowning, ex-Through The Eyes Of The Dead) screaming at you live, mixing them with plenty of screamed harsh harmonies. Then you’ve got the metalcore from the odd high skronks, single note breakdowns and Acacia Strain style tritone breakdowns, and finally the grindcore from the huge tempo jumps.
It’s all tight, well executed, catchy, and pretty intense, but also completely lacking curveballs. If melodic deathcore was a competition (which the scene be sometimes), then I’d count Through The Eyes Of The Dead as the leader of that specific variant because they’re moving away from some of the standard conventions, trading in a lot of their single-note breakdowns for more metal style breakdowns and tempo rising slams into a place I’ve personally tagged as post-metalcore, which would of course make them post-melodic deathcore. I swear if that tag catches on, people are going to be very mad at me for all the genre tags that are out there already.
In the end, for the formula that Whitechapel represents, they’ve dowe well, but looking back at earlier deathcore attempts also brings to mind Deadwater Drownings self-titled EP back in 2003 and “We are Gathered Here Today” by Glass Casket in 2004. Those albums might fit into that world of deathcore quite nicely, but they also stand head and shoulders above their peers in originality, strength, and inspiration.
My message in the end? Great job from Whitechapel. I’m also sure the scene kids will suck this one right up, as well as those modern death metal/deathcore kids. If this bands talent is taken to the next step with some creative left turns, then that’ll be something to get excited about, and grow past the standard scene. Until then, “This is Exile” is fun, but only for right this very moment.
Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com