Released: 2012, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Having chosen a name that has its most immediate links with the territory of renowned serial-snuffer Jack The Ripper, it seems appropriate that Whitechapel busy themselves at the death end of the musical scale. Deathcore, death metal - there’s a pattern emerging here Captain, and it’s not greatly associated with vitality and tips on making it to 100.
After first darkening the industry’s door in 2006, the Tennessean six-piece that are Whitechapel have only seen that shadow grow against the expanding fanbase at their back leading up to this – their bristlingly hostile fourth, and self-titled, album. Whitechapel bears the hallmarks of its environment; anger, close to despair, frustration – it’s not about to reach out and give you a hug, but for the disenchanted it’s practically a sing-along-sheet.
‘Make It Bleed’ begins with the kind of gentility that you know can only go one way, the kind of pondering-piano sound that serves only to be crushed beneath the heel of the sonically-superior frenzy coming behind. As the incensed drums of newbie Ben Harclerode, and raised hackles of vocalist Phil Bozeman lead the heavy, ‘Make It Bleed’ sounds utterly convincing in its message.
In comparison, ‘Hate Creation’ at times feels like the ghost of a Slipknot track, particularly when it comes to the cleaner, almost spoken vocals, whilst ‘I, Dementia’ crushes at a slower pace like a python serving up dinner. It has to be said that lyrically ‘(Cult)uralist’ is not necessarily inspired, but its catchy nu-metally construct is designed for live-crowd-alongs.
Later one, ‘The Night Remains’ is a shorter, faster beast with an industrial-style stuttering that hearkens back to some of Whitechapel’s murky past. ‘Devoid’ is a bit of a non-starter – another piano-led piece which the heavy soon takes over, this instrumental builds to spotlight on guitars but is too short to actually go anywhere. Coming after it is groove-inflected closer ‘Possibilities Of An Impossible Existence’, should leave the listener with the depressing contemplation that there is no hope for the future. However it is the return of the solemn-piano, which seems to have been seized vehemently as an emotive trigger throughout Whitechapel, that really made my spirits flag.
On the whole though, the intermingling of melody means that Whitechapel no longer just bludgeon you around the head as with some of their previous work, now they land the blows with some finesse, some deliberation, so that whilst they rough you up you can point out the finer points of composition. It may be inelegant in its point-making, but Whitechapel shows itself to be a distillation of the band’s evolution that might just let it tear through preconceptions outside its established demographic.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs