Released: 2014, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Being able to observe the entire evolution of a band is a rare privilege, as a wise man said, but what if the band on its own observes that evolution for you?
Tennessee deathcore strategists Whitechapel delivers their fully collaborative fifth effort, OUR ENDLESS WAR; this is undoubtedly a ferocious affront to extreme metal form and structure, combining his otherworldly strain of sweeping modern death sound with bursts of intense cosmic calculus chaos, waves of nebulous wall of sound and spastic rhythmic violence that, at times, feels like you are too small in front of their music, just a small bug.
OUR ENDLESS WAR is the record that will solidify the band as contenders with their technical but catchy, cerebral, Gorguts-by-way-of-Meshuggah death metal. But despite the album’s high caliber, the band was still very much a result of their influences, as if the pull to remain a “modern extreme metal band” was too strong.
At first listen, OUR ENDLESS WAR seems less challenging to the listener than some of the band's other records, and most of the songs flow smoothly from one syncopated passage to the next. However, careful examination reveals that the material is some of the group's most complicated, eminent and intelligent intellectual ideas transformed in musical forms.
This record is similar to the previous ones except this time around the band got more technical death metal elements and a little bit more polyrhytms, polymetered riff cycles, rhythmic syncopation, more blastbeats, rapid key and tempo changes and experimental chromatics crossed with groove-ity making this record a masterpiece and perfect example of musical gravity and honesty.
There is no greater introduction for an album than “Rise”, a drum-laden intro with latent guitar playing and an epic atmosphere before the storm coming. The title track is a nice introduction and sample of Whitechapel’s last installment and musical intention. Fast song, Meshuggah-sounded, wonderful melodic refrain (not even close to the stupid metalcore refrains with the melodic vocals! Here there is only brutality!) groovy riffing in the middle and afterwards and a refreshing heaviness with a Lamb of God feeling. The third song is the first single off the album and one of the greatest pieces here. Listen to it and you will push the ‘repeat’ button after this song. I really like the breakdown couplets and parts. “Mono” leads off with a groovy death/thrash metal riff that soon and brusquely turning to bellowed vocals and heavy snares. The guitar work is clean and fast, climaxed by a cascading solo and a canorous breakdown. It’s a classically influenced, death-worshipping track and a clear standout on the album. “Let Me Burn” is a groove-inlgy groovy mid tempo song, with great guitar leads, Their unpredictable, laboratorial songs employ death metal only as the basic formula, utilizing deconstruction as a compositional tool, and noise as an invasive texture. “Worship The Digital Age” is completely death metal song with the old-school meaning of the word and demonstrates of what Whitechapel can do together with the paying tribute to Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death and Necrophagist. This is the absolutely appropriate part that conducting variety in this record. “How Time Have Changed” is another great song with a classical death metal construction textured with a modern touch and elements constituting an all time classic extreme song that make people get into the pit. “Psychopathy” and the second-to-last “Blacked Out” are truly other-worldly and menacing with groundbreaking breakdowns and the hardcore side of Whitechapel is obvious here whilst the Slayer-esque double guitar leads take the song off. The closer “Diggs Road” begins with a guitar riff so promising and sinister that you gonna be blown away. By this song, Whitechapel put “core” in “Deathcore”. The bonus tracks “A Process So Familiar” and “Fall of The Hypocrites” are extremely good and wild while the second one could be in the middle of the record to give a more brutal essence in the record.
OUR ENDLESS WAR is a stripped Metal down to the bare essentials before completely rebuilding it in a totally abstract form. I really enjoyed its oppressing sound besides Whitechapel as only Meshuggah can teach. Whitechapel’s teetering-towards-self-destruction din works because they are one confident, brash group of dudes. Monotony is not an option, and this leads to an impressive and multifaceted implementation of dynamics. But they also focus greatly on the balance between chaos and order, introducing, rejecting, and warping ideas to remain unpredictable.