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Evolution is necessary - 87%

Vautour, July 8th, 2012

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.