Album- The Valley
Label- Metal Blade Records
Location- Knoxville, Tennessee
FFO- The Black Dahlia Murder, Thy Art Is Murder, Suicide Silence
First things first, we must thank super producer Mark Lewis (Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder) for helping make this record. The same man behind the last three Whitechapel albums. He is really able to capture a pure sound as well as not letting the band lose their image. Letting them keep their signature sound but helping add a little something extra. And by extra I mean cleans and very emotional sounding guitars. Drums are handled this time by Entheos drummer, Navene Koperweis. You can really hear the technicality behind his playing on this one. Still heavy as balls though so don’t worry. His blasts still ring true and is able to add this really nasty sound that is missing in a lot of deathcore drumming. Speaking of nasty lets not forget the guitars. The Iron Maiden of deathcore as I have always jokingly said. Three guitarists all sharing a role in this metal machine.
From the nasty chugginess to melodic guitar tones this band has it all. Solos aren’t something a lot of people are familiar with when it comes to deathcore and if there is one it’s usually 4 seconds long and nothing but a vat of speed and noise. But Whitechapel is able to throw in these little bits of pure genius and keep the listener interested in when the next will strike. But let’s face it, when we hear the name Whitechapel we think of person and one person only. No offense other members but yes I am referring to the growling mastermind Phil Bozeman. If you aren’t familiar with his lows then be prepared for the hair on neck to stand up. His lows are that of pure evil and monstrous intentions. The Valley is another example why he is still one of the best in the business. But it’s his incredible cleans on this record that stand out the most, in my opinion. I don’t think I have ever heard them before and I don’t think he has done them before in prior releases. But holy hell, this boy can sing. Reminds me of a Maynard James Keenan at times. His vocals never seem forced which is something I have admired. Quite calm and collective, which is the polar opposite of his normal vocals.
While this is still mostly a traditional Whitechapel album, which is in no way bad thing, they are able to experiment with some new sounds. They do stick true to their deathcore roots but are able to add another layer to this sound, a darker and emotional one. The stated that they were all in a much better place while writing this one but the darkness is ominously present throughout. Phil is able to tell a real story on each track and it makes you want to dive into google and learn more. Hitting home with stories of his tough childhood and upbringing. As a matter of fact, Phil used actual quotes from a journal his own mother wrote . A journal full of very dark and disturbing scribbles.
A lot of the words from the journal are present in the lyrics. Lyrics aside, the music on this record is stellar. The opening track “When a Demon Defiles a Witch” is by far my favorite on the record, mainly because the band is able to display every bit Whitechapel was trying to do on this album. Heavy as balls and cleans are both there on the track. For the most part the album is Whitechapel at it’s finest and it’s the two cleaner songs on the record that stand out especially, “Hickory Creek". Lyrically it’s dark and musically is actually very relaxing. Can feel Phils emotions on this track. “Third Depth” has a sort of Tool like sound behind it while also throwing in some nice screams and growls. The fact the their is only 2 mostly clean vocal performances on the record was a bit of a bummer but I understand that they didn’t not want over do something new.
First things first, I apologize for this lengthy review. I had a lot to say about this one. Mainly because I am in absolute love with this record. I was in the wrong when I generalized this band as a chuggy, growly band. They are a lot more then that, especially with “The Valley”. They have grown up a whole lot since “This Is Exile and boy does it show. Old school Whitechapel fans will love this record. They will love the cleans. Why? Because they weren’t forced and awkward. I really hope this a sign that Whitechapel will really embrace this sound. You can tell they made this album for themselves first and I praise them for doing so. If they keep this sound up then they have made a fan out of me. Thank you, Whitechapel.
The Valley drops March 29th on Metal Blade Records.
Rating- 9 of 10
Strongest Song- When a Demon Defiles a Witch