In 2006, a monster was born. It ravaged throughout the United States for years, taking its victims by the throat and leaving them screaming for mercy. In 2010, the monster’s unleashing of A New Era of Corruption found it discovering new ways to strike, thanks to its raw instrumentation, superb control, and intricate technicality. However, with the loss of one of their major limbs later that year – their drummer – people thought that maybe this monster’s days of devastation were over. But now it’s 2012, and with a new drummer, a new perspective and new forms of havoc, this maniacal being has proved that its days have only just begun. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s striking. It’s Whitechapel, and with their self-titled record, they are back and as stealthy as ever.
Whitechapel is an extremely painful listen. And when I say painful, I mean that your ears may bleed, your teeth may shatter, and your face should turn a murky shade of blue. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. In fact, these should be fairly normal effects of listening to said album. The triple guitar onslaught that embraced listeners with such a deadly ferocity in the past sounds just as stunning. “Hate Creation” is a perfect example of the destructive power that these guitars have; they tend to remind me a lot of This Is Exile – there’s less experimentation and more of a brash feel – but they also tend to sound fluid and well-organized like A New Era of Corruption. The breakdowns feel substantially snug, and not superfluous in any manner. Vocalist Phil Bozeman is powerful enough that he can stretch his voice over the guitars, and on this record he chugs along at the pace of a runaway train – just listen to “(Cult)uralist” and you’ll know what I mean.
On this record, Whitechapel is a new kind of beast. Piano intros and acoustic sections are a sweet touch, and I don’t just mean that because they are different. They change the album’s pace without feeling out of place. However, their main duty is to make the heavier sections of the music seem a lot heavier. And boy, do they do that. Dastardly opener “Make It Bleed” trots along with unexpected breaks and fuels the monster that is Whitechapel with paralyzing speed and awareness – only to slow to a screeching halt right in the middle of the song by a fuzzy-sounding acoustic guitar. From the clean vocal charade in “Hate Creation,” it seems as if the band took some influence from Slipknot/Corey Taylor-type material. It’s little things that Whitechapel try to force out of the typical death metal box, and they definitely succeed in trying to progress away from a predictable deathcore sound.
Lyrically, this album is as angry and ferocious as ever. Bozeman continues to cheer me up with lines like “Cram it down your throat and choke” and “You’re all worthless.” Ah, so positive and uplifting – if only. However, the lyrics definitely show thought, passion, and personality, and, as always, they fit the music perfectly. The mood is just so full of darkness, built from a downright dominant sound. The drums pound so hard that at times I literally feel like the earth could crack beneath me. It’s downright scary. Though I’ve felt this way in the past, these feelings are more in-your-face on Whitechapel. Many of the songs make me feel like the saw on the cover of the album could rip off at any second and slice me in half.
Is this Whitechapel’s best work to date? That’s hard to say. The band’s self-titled record is not as genre-defining, nor as impeccable as their masterpiece A New Era of Corruption. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t melt your face off. Every song on this record is a storm of brutality, crushing everything in its sight and expecting you to do the same. If you haven’t listened to this band before, there isn’t a better time to start than now. The instruments are as tight and punctual as ever, Bozeman’s vocals are at an utmost high in angst and atrocity, and the mood of the album keeps the feelings of carnage at an all-time high. The only thing left to be said? Let the devastation begin.