Whitechapel try something different... and succeed!
It became a question of doubt to whether Whitechapel was once the driving monster it had displayed back in 2008 with the release of their 2010 'New Era of Corruption.' It felt like the band had slipped into mediocrity, losing any edge of unique touches and devolved into the basic 'growl and chug' format over and over again while blaring the drums at full speed. However, things seemed like they were on the mend when they released the EP, 'Recorrupted', a mini album full of remixes and some covers. It didn't quite mesh but one had to give them props for experimenting. Now, with their self titled full length, it seems like they finally worked out all the kinks with their experimentation and have put together a solid, crushing piece of deathcore that isn't all about the chugs.
Right from the opening track, "Make it Bleed", one can tell that there is going to be a lot more melody going on with the piano and darker, slower intersections as opposed to just going for a guitar solo as fast as possible. The vocals still sound brutal as ever but with the combined atmosphere of the slower parts they really stand out on a whole new level. Other tracks like "The Night Remains" produce a thin layer of keyboards to haunt the entire song over the loud chugging of the guitars that sound like thunder in the distance and again brings the satisfaction that the group has really stepped out of their boundaries this time.
Of course there are the usual typical deathcore tracks that don't resound as well as others. "I, Dementia", despite an interesting beginning, feels like the same whopping chug over and over like a machine piston, dry and lacking inspiration and melody. "Faces" makes a somewhat better attempt, but there is still that typical buzzing bass over the rhythm of the guitar that overpopulated 'New Era of Corruption' a bit much, so listeners may get tired of this sooner than expected. Thankfully the last two tracks are what really put the nail in the coffin to solidify Whitechapel's reclamation of deathcore. Just like on their solid 2008 release, 'This is Exile', "Devoid" is a melodic, driving instrumental featuring piano once more and some excellent lengthy guitar notes among the usual chugging. Then there is the closing "Possibilities of an Impossible Existence", which is still quite chug-happy but from the way the band structured the sound it has a driving, almost rock/hardcore rhythm that is something quite new for Whitechapel as it is not the typical approach to deathcore, but it works to the band's advantage. While there sadly aren't more tracks like this, it will probably stand out as one of the band's finest songs to date simply because it is a different approach.
Overall this album is probably Whitechapel's most powerful release as it shatters the genre-binding prison that had plagued them and puts them again as one of the leading forces of modern deathcore.
(Metal Blade Records/Riot! Entertainment)