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Whitechapel are a band that has garnered mixed reviews over the years due primarily to the fact that they started out as a deathcore band. Their first two albums were firmly routed in that genre before A New Era Of Corruption geared the band up for more of a pure death metal sound. It was by this point that the band's critics were starting to lay off them a little and accept that that particular album was a step in the right direction, with crunchy death metal riffs and a good vocal performance despite some questionable lyrical material. Songs such as Reprogrammed To Hate and The Darkest Day Of Man stand out as some of the best they have put together and Whitechapel finally appeared to have done something right. Until 2012 came and they released their self-titled album which was a complete step backwards and is little more than just another average deathcore album that sticks out like a sore thumb as the worst in their discography.
The first two songs on the album showed a little promise despite the silly clean vocals from Phil on Hate Creation in which he proclaims "I'm so sick of all these people", at least they had some tasty quick riffs and the opening song even has a nice clean introduction that builds up to the mayhem to follow. However these two songs are really bland and do little to build up any form of momentum to carry the album through even one of the terrible songs that are to follow on from it and make them tolerable. Whilst Hate Creation and the stupidly titled Make It Bleed are enjoyable enough numbers despite the breakdowns, they do absolutely nothing for the album on the whole and when the *** hits the fan it really hits the fan. From this point onward there is little merit to be found on the album. Section 8 is the only other song that can actually hold its own as a listenable song due to a couple of meaty riffs that carry it a long way.
The thing to note about this album is that the breakdowns have been reduced massively in number and that the band has matured a lot as musicians and therefore attempt to disguise the mindless chugging with solos at times. However when they show through without solos or any gimmicks, they are even more devoid of interesting material than the first two albums combined. On This Is Exile the band at least had an element of variety to their riffing and song structures whereas every song on Whitechapel's self-titled fourth album bar the previously mentioned ones have absolutely nothing of merit to them. The riffs are bland tremolo picking with the occasional chord based slower riff found and then the obligatory deathcore open string breakdowns that are even more annoying than on previous albums. Also the band attempt to be clever with their lyrics such as a nod to their previous albums in the opening line of Make It Bleed by saying "We've been somatically defiled, exiled and now this new era has come to an end". Phil Bozeman is no poet but this really is taking the piss; this sort of line has no place on any music album anywhere but for some reason he felt the need to scrape it out of the bottom of a shit barrel.
The drumming lacks a real sense of variety and it just sounds as though the drummer is merely keeping a rhythm whilst the three guitars do nothing but play the exact same riff over and over again over the top of it all, with the occasional shredding solo scattered throughout. This would be alright for a mini EP where at least it would be over in a relatively short time but this is not a short album and it feels even longer due to the lack of variety. Every song except the decent ones mentioned previously just chugs along and does nothing new and never attempts to break out of the mold that Whitechapel are clearly crafting their songs from. They just feel like This Is Exile without any manner of technicality nor and intricate song structures like there was on select songs off of that album. Unfortunately all Whitechapel have done with their latest album is take a massive step back from their past material that was still at least semi-respectable within a select audience of people and make an album that one would have a hard time recommending to anyone whatsoever.
Originally written for Sputnik.
So, Whitechapel's new album has finally rolled around. Nice cover art, guys: the Tennessee state flag's design on top of a saw blade. Inspired! Obviously, that's really the very least of Whitechapel's issues, but as a minor plus side, it's nice to see some qualitative consistency across the album's overall presentation, because goddamn, this suuuuuuuuucks.
Whitechapel have decided right here and right now that they no longer want to be a metal band. That, of course, isn't an insult by itself: it's the manner in which the band decide to go about shedding their metal façade that leaves such a horrible taste in my mouth. An album like this literally couldn't have been made in any year before 2012, as it took eight full years after the initial deathcore explosion for bands to effectively scrounge up every quasi-metal flavour of the week which flickered around over the past decade, and combine it into such a monument to trendiness as is on display here. Seriously, you name it, this album's got it. Deathcore? Check. "Atmospheric" deathcore with stupid little washes of ambient guitars irritatingly floating through the rest of the music, which is clearly too neanderthal-brained to accommodate them? Double check. Djenty alternation between palm mutes and open-note twanging? Gotcha covered there. Nu-metal grooves, and nu-metal whispering, and nu-metal melodramatic breathing, with some horrendously contrived angst to top it all off? Look no further. I have no problems with any of these things on principle, but they mix together here with about harmony as a blind chainsaw juggler on a unicycle performing in a daycare centre. The band will shift between literally every idea they could recall at the time, and while the end result isn't exactly what one would call "spastic" (which, to that adjective's credit, would make this album a lot more interesting than it currently is), it's incoherent and doesn't carry any unifying theme through any of the songs.
Of course, even if these elements were somehow mixed together in such a fluid and seamless manner that even fans of fucking Gorguts took a minute out of their day to weep in awe of Whitechapel's beautiful compositions, it would be considered somewhat of a prerequisite for said elements to have value in and of themselves, and very few of them even fulfill that criterion. Whitechapel were never stellar or anything at writing breakdowns, but on their two good albums to date, they got the job done and, at the very least, didn't feel like they were there to take up space. The ones on display here are just slow and tedious as fuck; the guitarists don't even try to incorporate melodies into the breakdowns, the rhythms are stale and uninteresting, and the drummer refuses to add in at least a bit of syncopation on the kick pedals or anything else that would spice up the rhythms even a little bit. Whitechapel often attempt to go for the Emmure approach of chaining breakdowns onto breakdowns in order to create what is ideally a never-ending chain of catchiness, but the band fall flat on their face whenever attempting to do this: the breakdowns are only ever linked together in a chronological sense, as opposed to a compositional sense. Throughout the album, bouncy breakdowns bleed into djent grooves which bleed into triplet patterns which suddenly speed up to blast speed because oops our breakdown jam session started to develop a mind of its own. These blastier sections aren't great, and most aren't even good, but as they serve as the album's only respite from base, poorly executed chugging, they almost come across as a positive in regards to the album's quality. If you were to take this stance, I'd like to kindly remind you that Whitechapel's previous albums (even This Is Exile, the awful one) were all stuffed to the brim with blast beats - to settle for less because it's all the album offers you is foolish, especially when most of these blasts are accompanied by simply faster-paced but equally banal chugs or pseudo-technical "atmospheric" melodies which are nothing if not totally emotionally sterile.
Phil Bozeman's vocals have surprisingly maintained their quality over the years, and I'd even go so far to say that his high, raspy shrieks have improved, becoming a fair bit more vehement and providing more of a sense of "carving" into the music. The new techniques he's adopted, however, certainly tip his scales towards a net loss in overall quality. On this album, Phil Bozeman decides that despite already possessing a perfectly intelligible vocal style, his fans are just itching to hear him recite pieces of his immaturely misanthropic poetry in a method of delivery angsty enough to make Jonathan Davis and Corey Taylor simultaneously make a double take in the general direction of Whitechapel's recording studio. I've never been a fan of spoken word or whispering in my extreme music, but the inherently-awful technique is taken to new extremes here as Phil spews out such timeless gems as "You bleed, we bleed, what's the point of these lies?" and "We don't want you dead. We just want you to feel what it's like to be burned alive." Consider yourself talented, Brozeman: you managed to somehow write lyrics so mindless and devoid of inspiration that you got me - the guy who unflinchingly reads the lyrics to "Pigtails Are for Face Fucking" and "Diarrhoea Induced Gag Reflex", the guy who pays very little attention to lyrics in general and makes a conscious effort to avoid mentioning them in a musical review - to come out of my shell and publicly denounce the crap you have put to paper for this particular musical effort. Feel free to consider yourself singularly abysmal.
No one wants to or needs to hear this. Listening to this long enough to write a fair review for it, I permanently sacrificed millions of brain cells, 40 IQ points and three inches of my manhood; and were I not endowed with the genitalia of King Kong, you can bet your ass I'd be suing Whitechapel for the damage sustained to my pride and joy after hearing such a pathetic, soul-draining attempt at music. "The Night Remains" is probably the only consistently decent song, actually being fast-paced, bouncy, and facetious enough to resemble a poor man's Felony; the rest is Whitechapel's former self having a naughty sleepover with Periphery, Slipknot, and Meshuggah, during which Whitechapel gets gang-raped, tainted by all of the others' filthy, horrendous seed and forced to bear their children. If you see this thing being sold in stores, dramatically break it in half over your knee, and behold as all those around you with even the faintest refinery of musical taste break into an enthused round of applause.
You know, I kind of get the disappointment this album has caused for many scene kids. Yes, Kevin Lane left the band. Yes, there are few death metalish riffs on this album. Yes, the breakdowns sound more like Meshuggah than proper deathcore breakdowns. Yes, Phil Bozeman dares to whisper and speak a few times rather than shout all the time.
So what? At its core, their self-titled album still sounds like Whitechapel. Ben Harclerode's style is not that different from that of Kevin Lane, it wasn't when he was playing in Knights of the Abyss and it isn't now that he joined Whitechapel. There is still a hell of a lot blastbeats, fast doublebass and whatever you could possibly have wanted from Lane.
While the riffing certainly has changed, I find it a lot less average and less typical for deathcore than before. I definitely liked the riffs they had before, but the riffs never really were what set Whitechapel apart from other deathcore bands. The riffs were either pure chugging or standard-issue semi-melodic death metal. What set Whitechapel apart from the pack were the melodic and atmospheric guitar leads that were played over the riffs and breakdowns - and guess what? Those are still there. But this time around, there are actually riffs underlying them, that are creative and that do not sound like those of a thousand other bands. They are even more memorable than before.
The breakdowns on the other hand, well, they do sound kind of like Meshuggah. But pretty much in the way that any complex breakdown that isn't just standard drop-D mosh sounds like Meshuggah. Whitechapel also manage to make the breakdowns work a lot more like parts of the songs that are actually necessary and make sense. Well, at least more sense than just offering an opportunity to bash somebody's face in at a concert. They carry more melody and atmosphere and really add to the songwriting this time around.
Since Whitechapel also incorporated some quieter parts (see "Hate Creation"), I found it simply a necessity that Bozeman expanded his vocal range a little bit. Come on - it's not as if he was doing a Tarja Turunen impression or going all emo on us. He is just adding a bit of spoken word to enhance the atmosphere, that's it. And it works. Just as well as his usual grows have become better once again, the speed at which he delivers his shouts on the aforementioned track and also "(Cult)uralist" is nothing short of astonishing.
Overall, I'd say that Whitechapel still stick to their initial deathcore recipe, but they strongly refined the ingredients. The mixture is also still very much typical for the genre - fast riff, breakdown, fast riff, you get the gist. But the single parts simply aren't, yet this helps Whitechapel evolve as much as they possibly could while still sticking to their basic sound and boundaries. As I already said, I do somewhat understand the disappointmend this album has caused in the deathcore "scene" for several reasons - but what I do not get is why people seem to be so reluctant to even give it a few spins. It's pretty good, guys.
Experimentation is a dangerous thing, especially when you are on the top of your game. After Whitechapel’s mediocre 2010 release, A New Era of Corruption, I was skeptical over the band’s future in the deathcore genre (for more details, see my review of their previous full length). I stated that they seemed to be pulling away from their “core” roots, for a more straightforward death metal sound. Then, in 2011, they released the Recorrupted EP. This featured a new song, Section 8, which was alright. It was just alright, however. It also included a cover of the classic Pantera song “Strength Beyond Strength.” While it was a solid cover, it worried me about what to expect on their upcoming release. The rest of the EP, aside from the interesting acoustic version of “End of Flesh” from ANEOC, made me want to vomit. Before this album was released, I went to see Whitechapel on their 2012 headlining tour. They were amazing, which renewed some faith I had lost in the band. Upon the release date, I kept my fingers crossed.
The album leads off with a light piano medley. While it’s quite relaxing, it doesn’t really serve any significant purpose. Perhaps it’s meant to be the calm before the storm? Around the 35 second mark, the guitars kick in, and what does this sound like? Pantera. We are also blessed with the opening line of “We've been somatically defiled, exiled, and now this new era has come to an end.” This is obviously referencing their previous albums (2007’s The Somatic Defilement, 2008’s This Is Exile, and the aforementioned 2010’s A New Era of Corruption). Maybe it’s also meant to clarify that they are evolving from their pervious sound? Oh damn, here we go.
Phil Bozeman has always been an idol of mine in terms of both vocal range and writing ability. While their first album was primarily about raping and killing prostitutes, their sophomore and junior albums deal with issues of politics and religion. While they are less amusing, they are something that most of us can relate to. This album’s lyrical content sounds like nothing more than a pissed off, angst-filled teenager. “We are worthless, you all suck, I will kill you all, blah blah blah.” God, shut the fuck up. We get it. Also, Phil’s diversity as a vocalist is history. He may be trying to change his style, but why would you do that when you are in your prime? In “Make It Bleed”, he sounds like Phil from Pantera and in “Hate Creation,” he sounds like Corey Taylor from Slipknot. In “Dead Silence,” I don’t know what the fuck he is doing. Are you kidding me? In “Hate Creation,” there are even parts when he is talking rather than growling or screaming. I almost shed a tear the first time I heard this. Phil either needs to go back to his older, more unique style of vocals, or he needs to simply go.
I don’t have much to complain about as far as the guitars are concerned, other than the fact that it sounds like these songs were written in about a week’s time. Sure, they are technical and catchy (to an extent), but they lack the intensity that they once had. Also, in some of the songs, you can hardly tell that there are 3 guitarists. In their sophomore album, This Is Exile, there are many guitar parts, particularly in the instrumental tracks, that are both eerie and beautiful all at the same time, which is hard to do. I don’t feel that in this release. The bass is also almost completely inaudible, except for songs like “Possibilities of An Impossible Existence,” which is more of a slower song compared to the rest of the album. I recommend putting away the 8 string guitars, stop ripping off Pantera, Slipknot, and Meshuggah, and go back to what you are not only the most talented at doing, but what you are famous for.
When I heard that Kevin Lane, longtime drummer of the band, had left the band, I died a little bit inside. Not only because he was an extremely talented drummer, but because it’s sad to see an original member leave. In the Recorrupted EP, we were given a new song titled “Section 8,” that showcased what their new drummer, former Knights of The Abyss drummer Ben Harclerode, could do. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. Sure, he is a very fast player, but so what? Do people really think that that’s all there is to it? Kevin was a very creative and innovative drummer, whereas Ben is simply playing the part. Kevin also had a very simple, quite small setup. However, Ben seems to think it necessary to have an overly excessive setup that is really not necessary. I’m not denying his talent, but he lacks the intensity and passion that Kevin Lane put forth on the previous albums. Kevin stood out, where Ben simply blends into the crowd.
As a whole, this is not the worst album I’ve ever heard, but it is definitely the worst thing that this six-piece group from Tennessee has ever released. Through all of the rip-offs of various bands, primarily Pantera, this leaves many old school fans disappointed. It may serve some justice to those who oppose this genre in its entirety. However, it is a huge slap in the face to those of us, like myself, who used to idolize Whitechapel as being one of the few deathcore bands that did not fall into the stereotype which has plagued this entire genre of music. They have moved on, and so should their long time fans.
Tennessee's Whitechapel could hardly be called my favorite band in the deathcore spectrum. Not that I spend an inordinate amount of time mining the prospects in that particular strata, but their past output has been more or less a poster child for all the vapid, derivative grooving, shallower hardcore lyrics and uninspired vocal abuse tailor made for little more than teenaged moshing and high school strife. Enter their eponymous fourth full-length Whitechapel, and truth is once being hammered into that age old cliche 'every dog has its day'; for while it still retains some of the traits and flaws that critically marred my appreciation of its forebears, this album prances straight out the gates of the puppy pound and takes a big old, chocolaty dump on my sneaker-boots.
As with their contemporaries like Carnifex or Job For a Cowboy, I got a real sense from this music that Whitechapel felt an aching desire to expand itself into something more progressive. Evolutionary. Epic. And what I'm hearing from this album translates that intent into some admittedly intelligent and well implemented designs that, while not enough to concoct a masterpiece, are enough to quash its predecessors by an order or so of magnitude. Whitechapel is an album of 'moments' more than a fully-fleshed out experience. There were a good number of palm muted, chugging mosh rhythms strafing both the metalcore and djent genres that I felt ruefully unimpressed with, but where these guys deserve some credit is in how they pepper the aggression with ear sweetening leads, progressive metal leanings and what some might dub 'experimentation'. Not that their earlier albums were entirely void of minor escapes and nuances, but the 38 minute duration of this album is incredibly well balanced between the puerile brutality and something...more.
That 'more' is, itself, spread among the stars of possibility. You get some calming pianos in the intro to "Make It Bleed", before some intense surgical thrashing ensues; or strewn throughout "Devoid". There are slight passes at electronica/noise like the intro "(Cult)uralist" and "Section 8". Though a good portion of the album's grooves are directed at the sort of ballistic timekeeping present on the older albums, they are almost constantly including some little tremolo picked fusion guitar melody or other atmospheric distraction to create a depth that otherwise would have been lost upon the concrete foundation. The grooves themselves are often contrasted between Meshuggah-like jerking and the Earth Crisis/Slayer breakdowns that death- and metalcore were partially hatched from, though you can also experience some aggressive post-hardcore dissonance (check out "Section 8" which flirts with all three of these paradigms).
But more, you're getting a similar taste of the highly technical, modern riffing and soloing inherent to the younger Californian brutal death acts, and they've clearly sharpened their individual musicianship. The band has three guitarists, and they USE them, whether in tripling up the rhythms for a fat, pummeling excess or gauging off dual melodies against the third. The single major setback to the album would be the lyrics and vocals. The latter are decent enough when roving thuggishly along a guttural axis, but the various Deicide snarls and tough guy gang shouts used to complement them are less than complimentary. What's worse, while the music is far more cerebral and stimulating than past jaunts, the lyrics are still held back in that 8th grade hardcore mentality, where the world is all out to get you and you must battle it with the cliched script of social antipathy. Lots of 'lies', 'falling', 'bleeding', and 'fuck' as if I were listening to some second rate wrist-cutter metalcore demo from 1994.
I would LOVE for this band to attempt some poetry, using more interesting symbolism, abstraction, surreality, or even just a more technical vocabulary to streamline with their rhythmic chops. I realize that to some degree these guys are writing for their younger audience, who can appreciate a violent lift-up when he or she has been dumped by society or a significant other, or stabbed in the back by a former 'friend', but as the band ages, I think they should spit some more progressive wisdom in that microphone. But beyond this glaring distraction, I must admit that Whitechapel is entertaining more often than not. You could pull 3-4 songs off this thing in almost any order and come out with a far stronger listening session than the older albums combined. I also like the minimal approach to the cover. The information age, dystopic horrors of the past records weren't bad, and sawblades are nothing necessarily novel, but I like that it doesn't show or tell me anything, it just implies progress. It makes me want to dig deeper.
All told, this is a vast improvement in most departments. 2012 and the Metal Blade roster is full of surprises. First that Six Feet Under record, and now this? There are probably some Whitechapel fans who will find this less appealing due to its implicit variation, who don't give a shit about hearing the band challenge itself, they just wanna mosh. Plenty of that here for the dude-bros, but honestly, it's high time to grow up: something this Southern sextet has done nicely with this very album. I'll try not to track dog poo all over the rug on my way out the door.
Whitechapel have been one of the largest figures in the deathcore scene to date. Having formed in 2006, their first three releases were met with heavily varied opinions, most being that their content is regarded as too simplistic and that both albums following their debut, The Somatic Defilement, had nothing different to offer. The latest self-titled effort from Whitechapel also features a new drummer, Ben Harclerode. Does this fourth full-length installment finally have what it takes to set Whitechapel apart from from the abundantly flourishing generic deathcore that surrounds it?
Whitechapel is an album full of unexpected twists and turns, and when first faced with the content the composure seems messy and unkempt. Later, this augments into a varied mixture of different musical genres that helps deliver a fresh side of Whitechapel unheard of until now. "Make It Bleed" and "Hate Creation" are completely by-passable, being comprised of a mostly generic effort. Although, it's safe to say that not many people would be expecting a 40 second piano/violin introduction, which is how the album itself opens.
"(Cult)uralist" is where the material begins to pick up, and the album from this point on takes on an overtone of gritty industrial influence. Catchy chants with simplistic lyrics create an instantly recognizable hook, often woven together with an eerie guitar progression in either the forefront or background. This newer style is heard loud and clear in songs such as "I, Dementia", "Section 8" and "(Cult)uralist", which feature some unique synthesized divisions and are the most stand-out tracks amongst the 10 songs given. "Section 8" and "I, Dementia" both have introductions that again reinforce the industrial influence present and give a breath of fresh stench into the deathcore style.
Why the band felt the need to pick up a third guitarist in 2007 begs for questions to be raised, since there are generally only two guitars heard at any given time. In this fourth full-length album, the guitars are just as simplistic and droning in nature as what has been heard by Whitechapel before. What time they aren't chugging palm-muted riffs, they're chugging palm-muted riffs. The only variance is a lead guitar that offers short solos and 'eerie' one-note background noise. Having three guitarists should provide more differentials when it comes to riffs and styles, but what is present are the same chunky palm-muted chords in slightly different beefy patterns. This is the real downfall of Whitechapel.
Two of the more unique and equally bass heavy tracks that explore the unexpected twists and turns endeavor are "Dead Silence" and "The Night Remains". While the former has some attention grabbing lyrics, head pounding drum patterns and fluid guitar solos, it is undoubtedly the rustic sounding classical/folk guitar outro to this track that makes it shine the brightest. "The Night Remains" is where we hear the guitars finally break away from the standard palm-muted chugging and become more exploratory. This track also has a noteworthy vocal segment that cuts in and out, snatching the listeners attention and immediately latching in relentlessly. Every now and then, vocal styles will change from a death metal growl to a black metal shrieking reminiscent of (forgive the lack of better comparison) newer Cradle of Filth. Somewhat commercial and unwelcome, seemingly out of place given the content that surrounds it.
Whitechapel has a tendancy to come off messy and confused to which style it wants to take. Is it deathcore? Industrial? Black metal? Folk? Symphonic? All of these elements are somehow meshed together in this content, but surprisingly it works to create a captivating and enjoyable experience with minimal repetition that mostly is at fault when it comes to the guitar work present. If you can sit through a couple of mediocre tracks, and don't mind a little variety sprinkled throughout your metal, then the new Whitechapel may be for you.
- Villi Thorne
So here we have the new self-titled Whitechapel album. The first three are all really awesome pieces of deathcore, so I when I heard the news that they were working on a new record I was stoked. Then they dropped a new song, Hate Creation. It was terrible. Really really bad. There was a part where it sounded like Slipknot, with Phil Bozeman (normally a very capable extreme vocalist) doing his best Corey Taylor impression, complete with lyrics of angsty hatred. Then they released another song called I, Dementia. This was different to Hate Creation. This one wasn't a Slipknot rip off. No, it was a Meshuggah rip off. Non-stop chugging on the 8 string, albeit with an admittedly decent solo. Yes, Whitechapel have made a record that combines nu metal, deathcore and djent, and it unsurprisingly doesn't work.
The first song begins with a piano intro, before going into a nice riff with Phil name dropping the last 3 albums with the line "We've been somatically defiled, exiled and now this new era has come to an end". In a way, he's right. The era of Whitechapel being a good band is over. Now it's time for them to suck. Fortunately, this very song serves as their last decent one. Featuring a neat breakdown with a good build up, an enjoyable solo and some cool harmonies, it makes you feel just for a moment that this album isn't going to suck as much as you thought.
Then you actually hear the rest of the album. Most of this ranges from mediocre to downright terrible. At it's best it just sounds like generic deathcore, which Whitechapel has always managed not to be. At it's worst it sounds like self-titled era Slipknot and everyone knows that's never a good thing, well, everyone except Whitechapel. Sure some of the melodies and solos are pretty cool (as mentioned before, the solo is the only thing saving "I, Dementia" from being completely horrible), but everything else is so devoid of originality and creativity. They've never been a particularly original outfit, but they've always had some kind of knack for making really memorable catchy songs while still skillfully avoiding sounding like most other bands in their genre.
I honestly can't see who this CD is appealing to. Hardcore Whitechapel fans will likely hate it for being too different. Maybe the scene kids? No, it's not breakdowny enough. The nu metal kids? No, they're all still posting on forums calling Korn sellouts for experimenting with dubstep. So who does this appeal to? Maybe it doesn't appeal to anyone. Maybe Whitechapel are trolling everyone by making an album for themselves and no-one else. I don't know and at this point I don't care. If you're a fan of the band, don't bother buying or even downloading this, or at least not all of it. Download Make It Bleed and leave it at that. The only other worthwhile track is Section 8, but they already released that last year on that piece of shit cash grab EP.