When compared to the bands that came in their wake, deathcore mainstays Whitechapel have successfully commanded the kind of respect that’s not often given out. Their last album, ‘Mark Of The Blade’, featured plenty of signs of progression, but there’s evidence that they’re starting to move away from the confines of deathcore altogether on their seventh album, ‘The Valley’.
Opener ‘When A Demon Defiles A Witch’ has a slightly misleading clean intro, but quickly gives us a solid groove with plenty of melody still, not too dissimilar from Parkway Drive‘s ascent into more anthemic territory last year. It also features a somewhat unexpected clean section, and it turn makes it quite a statement of intent.
This isn’t the first time that frontman Phil Bozeman has utilised clean vocals, but they’re the focal point of ‘Hickory Creek’, and will no doubt get fans and critics alike talking. This may be the closest that Whitechapel have got to a radio rock song, and they hit a decent sweet spot between melody and heaviness. The song features a striking build-up, with strong drumming chops courtesy of Navene Koperweis.
‘Black Bear’ continues the solid grooves offered throughout, and you may often find yourself asking whether or not Whitechapel can be even categorised as a ‘deathcore band’ anymore. However, ‘We Are One’ does continue to incorporate some more pummelling, blast-assisted sections within.
‘Third Depth’ largely carries on where the aforementioned ‘Hickory Creek’ left off, with more of a restrained atmosphere. It isn’t a million miles away from something that prog masters Tool could’ve conjured up either, especially with Bozeman‘s vocal delivery resembling that of Maynard James Keenan in places.
‘Lovelace’ offers more of what has come before, but this doesn’t mean that the album lets up at all. The acoustic guitar-driven ending of closer ‘Doom Woods’ solidifies the considerable depth that’s present here.
Now seven albums into their career, Whitechapel have shown that they’re continuing to spread their wings, putting to bed the idea that heavier bands generally stagnate as they get older. ‘The Valley’ is a somewhat unexpected triumph for Whitechapel, and this may just inject some new life into the band.
Music graduate from City University, partial to almost anything with ‘post-‘ in the genre description.