The Black Dahlia Murder
The Red Chord
Tracklist1. Make It Bleed
2. Hate Creation
4. I, Dementia
5. Section 8
7. Dead Silence
8. The Night Remains
10. Possibilities of an Impossible Existence
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The opening piano melody of Whitechapel makes it clear that this is not the same Whitechapel that has been a driving force in the deathcore scene since their conception in 2006. Whitechapel still wreaks unforgiving havoc and relentlessly destroys in a way similar to that of the 2010 deathcore masterpiece, A New Era of Corruption, but it also displays an evolution of Whitechapel; they display a stronger sense of songwriting, new-found musical ideas, and a maturity and passion not heard in previous albums. Furthermore, it sees the Knoxville, Tennessee native troupe attempting to break free from their prescribed deathcore moniker while continuing to stand alone as an entity all their own. It is evident from the first listen there is much more passion and genuine emotion found on Whitechapel than on any of their previous albums, which may seem like an oxymoron, but they pull it off with a grace that a deathcore band shouldn’t have.
“Make It Bleed” is one of the best album openers I’ve heard in some time. It begins with a melancholy piano theme, teasing the listener with a very brief calm before the chaos, which is initiated by a brooding guitar melody, followed by Phil Bozeman’s psychotic monster growls, whose lyrics cleverly pay homage to the band’s history (“We’ve been somatically defiled, exiled, and now this new era has come to an end!”). It breaks into a groovy, catchy, blood-pumping riff, and so begins the chaos. The acoustic guitar break mid-way through and the melodic nature of the song (melodies, in deathcore…WHAAAT?) serves as a taste of the new tricks this album has in store. From the Tool reminiscent section found in “Hate Creation” to the Meshuggah influenced groove of “I, Dementia,” there are so many great moments to be found on Whitechapel, and these moments give the album an addictive nature and definitely solicit multiple listens.
There is so much variation between the songs on Whitechapel which makes it hard to write this off as just another deathcore record. “Section 8” is a re-recorded version of the same song that appeared on the band's Recorrupted EP, and it’s by far the most classically “deathcore” song of the bunch, with its chugging rhythms, complementary drums and guitars, and the breakdown at the end accompanied, of course, by a catchy but meek one-liner to end with (“You’re all worthless!). Ironically, this track stands out the least; it’s the modal melody and groove found in “Dead Silence” or the death n’ roll vibes of “The Night Remains” that will really catch your ears and make you start paying attention. The album ends on a strong point with “Possibilities of an Impossible Existence,” which utilizes the emotional piano theme that opens “Make It Bleed” as its main melody and closes the song with the same piano part, which resolves the album as more of a whole and ties everything together very nicely.
Whitechapel pummels the listener with a much more focused assault this time around, and the intensive approach found on this album is one of its greatest strengths. Similar to a lot of grind albums, Whitechapel is short, mean, and to-the-point, which is the way deathcore should be done. There are still many deathcore elements found on this album, but what has always separated Whitechapel from the rest of the pack is their songwriting capabilities and their musicianship, both of which they keep getting better and better at with each record. Most deathcore bands capitalize on the seemingly long-winded build-up/breakdown method, which usually makes most deathcore feel unnecessarily drawn out and boring. Whitechapel, on the other hand, refuses to be lumped into that category. The intelligent songwriting showcased on Whitechapel gives each song an identity of its own and keeps the album flowing at a steady pace, and as always, the musicianship is superb. The tri-guitar wall built by Alex Wade, Zach Householder, and Ben Savage stands strong and indestructible, and it’s hard to deny the foundation set by the abilities of new drummer Ben Harclerode and bassist Gabe Crisp. Each instrument cuts through the mix and shines in its own way thanks to the always spectacular production job by Mark Lewis. Also, mad kudos to vocalist Bozeman; his growl has become instantly recognizable in the world of extreme music, and his clearly pronounced, catchy vocal lines make it easy to scream along. One more thing about Bozeman: the line he spits in “(Cult)uralsist” indicates he is well on his way to pioneering a hybrid vocal style of guttural growling and speed rapping that is bound to take the metal world by storm. Freaking awesome.
Whitechapel ought to blow people’s expectations of Whitechapel clean out of the water. It is no longer appropriate to label them as a deathcore band; there are far too many distinctive elements on this album that make them stand out from the oversaturated deathcore genre and elevate them to a league of their own. There will be naysayers who write this album off, either saying “it’s just another boring deathcore album” or that “Whitechapel changed their sound too much, and now they suck,” but it’s their loss. Whitechapel didn’t sacrifice their signature style for substance; rather, they added more substance to their style. Don’t cheat yourself by not giving this record a chance; you’ll be missing out on some of the best audio annihilation thus far this year.