Although their early releases are routinely hailed as landmarks in the burgeoning deathcore movement, Whitechapel, alongside many of their fellow pioneering scene leaders, have steadily shifted away from underground putridity and embraced a strain of succinct, groove-driven anthems which, whilst a long way from ‘mainstream’, certainly have enough of an accessible edge to draw in the average Five Finger Death Punch fan. Focused and ferocious, many saw 2014’s ‘Our Endless War’ as the culmination of the band’s new approach, yet ‘Mark Of The Blade’ takes more than a few shrewd steps further into unexplored territory.
Unquestionably, it’s the emergence of clean vocals which will prove the ultimate sticking point. Lending his agreeable croon to ‘Bring Me Home’ and closing track ‘Decennium’, vocalist Phil Bozeman delivers a Corey Taylor-esque charm which is bound to send purists scuttling to their keyboards in dismay, yet for the less blinkered of us offering an interesting if hardly ground-breaking extra dimension to Whitechapel‘s sledgehammer assault.
Elsewhere, it is the shape-shifting instrumental ‘Brotherhood’ and ‘Tormented‘s measured, tech-tinged crush which find the band still pushing their evolution, with some pitch-black theatrics and an air of cataclysmic horror sitting neatly alongside the more precise and vicious surge of the traditional Whitechapel attack (‘The Void’). Indeed, ‘Mark Of The Blade’ contains plenty of the guttural chest-beating which the Tennessee six piece have long since made their trademark, yet it’s the band’s fearless will to consistently toss in fresh curve-balls and touches of subtle creativity which find Whitechapel still striking a blow for heavy music both expanding and evolving.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)