When a band releases their self-titled album, it is usually a statement. A message that says, loud and clear “this is who we are and this is what we are all about”. This is always a bands best shot at encapsulating their core sound and identity themselves and if the Tennessee-based bruisers are summing themselves up with this record, then a single word springs to mind, brutality. And a compelling, uncompromising racket they bring with them too.
With every album that Whitechapel unleash, they slowly step further away from their ‘deathcore’ tag, a genre that has become synonymous with mediocre, copy and pasted breakdowns and bland song-writing. The snarling sextet are doing their upmost to ensure they don’t trip into such pitfalls by incorporating different elements to their sound. Their trademark trident of a guitar assault still remains at the forefront of their sonic attack and sounds absolutely huge, pummelling your lug-holes into submission with every crushingly down-tuned sweep of the strings. The stirring piano-led passage on opener ‘Make it Bleed’ introduces the track well before the pounding bellow of Phil Bozeman bulldozes him into centre stage. Chugging riffs and rampant drum breaks stomp all over this raging anthem. Whitechapel’s intentions to destroy and rebuild are clearly displayed with the first lyric “We’ve been somatically defiled, exiled and now this new era has come to an end” which is also a clever reference to their previous work (‘The Somatic Defilement’, ‘This is Exile’ and ‘A New Era of Corruption’).
The spoken word vocals over ‘Hate Creation’ don’t quite have the effect that was intended and when paired with rather generic guitar work, doesn’t fill you with confidence for the rest of the album. ‘(Cult)uralist’ is pretty much on the same level with some blunt and obtuse lyrics “I won’t be the one to fall/I will kill you all” and the worst offender is the dire ‘Dead Silence’, despite this fact, the Hardcore kids and Emmure fans amongst you shall probably enjoy screaming along with the tedious chant of ‘shut your fucking mouth’.
The fast-paced roars and calculated blastbeats peppered all over ‘Faces’ fare much better and more tracks of this calibre would upped the overall quality of the album. The triple-barrel guitar barrage controls the pacing of the track and keep you guessing as the beatdowns rain in. The closing trio round finish the album well, firstly ‘The Night Remains’ features an intro from a mandolin (yes, you did read that right) but soon descends into a brutal, groove-laden anthem, which shows up, caves your skull in with a brick and disappears off into the shadows, all within three wonderfully chaotic minutes. The penultimate song is another brief one as the keys make a return before a triumphant, wailing riff is laid down under the elephantine drumming from Ben Harclerode, who makes his debut appearance on a Whitechapel LP.
Whilst still not a great departure from their original sound, Whitechapel are evolving enough to survive the inevitable demise of deathcore and when their last album ‘A New Age of Corruption’ sold 10,500 copies in the USA, it would be bonkers to completely change a winning formula. The final track ‘Possibilities of an Impossible Existence’ slows proceedings down to a thunderous, seismic stomp which harnesses almost doom levels of heaviness. The densely-layered catalogue of songs which make up ‘Whitechapel’ are almost guaranteed to be a hit with their growing fanbase and any American metaller craving beatdowns and obnoxious subject matter is going to lap this up. Overall, it is a strong album from some talented individuals and could be considered their best work, but it doesn’t break any new ground and certainly won’t re-write the rulebook for the genre. Whilst this is a good place to start for anyone wanting to dip their toes into the rapidly evaporating pool of deathcore, don’t expect a game-changer to dive into.