Despite their first two albums being bland, Deathcore-by-numbers, there was something about Tennessee (from whose state flag the album cover takes its design) Deathcore giants WHITECHAPEL that had me keeping an eye on them. My intuition first paid off with their last release, 2010’s "A New Era Of Corruption," which perfectly married the crushing, agro, beatdown of THE ACACIA STRAIN with pure balls-out, blast-heavy Death Metal. I found it quite delicious. However, with their new self-titled record, WHITECHAPEL have proven they’re more than a one-trick pony. This new record is a step up in every way for the band, and the Deathcore genre in general – of which WHITECHAPEL seems to have cemented itself the forerunner.
There’s a certain ‘Nu’ element to the record and, while some of it is slightly cringe-inducing, for the most part it’s an effective addition – infinitely more derivative of the Nu-Death, hybrid sound of SLIPKNOT than the call and response, LIMP BIZKIT inspired ‘jump-tha-fuck-uppery’ that found its way onto the last SUICIDE SILENCE record. Besides, it’s merely one of many new elements the band has managed to integrate into its sound; the piano piece that opens and closes the album (as well as being featured on the tasteful instrumental/segue track “Devoid”) is one of the better uses the instrument’s ever been put to in this sort of music; and the injection of the odd, acoustic passage here and there can’t help but bring to mind the Middle Eastern flavour of NILE, a band to whom the Death component of the album owes a heavy debt. (…Yeah, I meant that).
New drummer Ben Harclerode (ex-KNIGHTS OF THE ABYSS) proves an invaluble addition to the band. His fresh style and outstanding (not overly triggered) performance is a big reason why "Whitechapel" is as good as it is; not that the excellent guitar work and solid vocals are to be scoffed at. Also of note is the album’s short running time - an often undervalued assest. "Whitechapel" is without a dull moment, trimmed of all fat - never giveing in to the disinteresting, monotony that over-long albums are wont to do - and comes high in replay value. This could be the record that blows a whole genre open. While I generally avoid Deathcore, the bands I do indulge in usually only loosely attached to the genre or lean heavily on the Death side of things. WHITECHAPEL however, while containing a severely high degree of Death Metal, are undeniably Hardcore – their music populated heavily (again!) by slam-sections, bouncing riffs and (in this case) well-placed breakdowns. What they have managed to do with this record, that no other bands has yet to do, or do as well, is mould those necessary elements of the genre into something that is catchy and accessible, yet overwhelmingly brutal and well constructed at the same time.
(Online June 15, 2012)