10 bruising deathcore tracks straight from the belly of the beast¸ Whitechapel’s self-titled effort is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. An album that revels in dirty grooves¸ saturated vocals and breakneck drumming¸ this Tennessee sextet have brewed something that stands head and shoulders above their peers¸ once again cementing their position as torch-bearers of the genre.

‘A New Era of Corruption’ was a turning point. Prior to its release the deathcore scene was very much a pub brawl: a bare knuckle fist-fight to see who could out do the other in terms of heaviness. Whilst this produced some admirable results (most notably in the form of Suicide Silence’s ‘No Time to Bleed’) the scene was in need of a band who could marry the genre’s brutality with some great song writing. On ‘ANEOC’¸ Whitechapel achieved just that. Since then¸ Whitechapel have gone on to land great tours¸ silence critics and build a strong fan base of loyal followers. However¸ given the fast-paced nature of today’s music industry¸ this was never going to be enough.  In 2012¸ Whitechapel have come to a crossroads: copy the success of their previous albums or shift things up a little and aim for new heights. Fortunately for us¸ they chose the latter. ‘Whitechapel’ isn’t the most experimental record that you’ll hear this year by any stretch of the imagination¸ but it certainly is ambitious…at least for the genre.

Opening with a soothing albeit deceiving piano piece¸ the listener is thrown hurtling back into Whitechapel’s dark and dreary world full of bowl-mutilating growls¸ ear-pummelling beats and razor-sharp riffery. ‘Make it Bleed’ is everything that a great opener needs: a moody intro¸ a thrashing mid-section and an epic conclusion. Whitechapel have clearly been paying attention to the likes of Lamb of God¸ and who knows? Maybe one day they’ll reach the same level of success. ‘Hate Creation’ (the album’s first single) is a bona fide hell-raiser of a track. Packed from end to end with thrash riffs and meaty beatdowns with a brief moment of calm a la Deftones¸ Whitechapel are well aware of what they do best and on ‘Hate Creation’ they do it to perfection. Other highlights include the nu-metal flavoured ‘I¸ Dementia’¸ the dismal ‘Possibilities of an Impossible Existence’ and the hateful ‘Dead Silence’. Every era of Whitechapel is represented on this album. An impressive feat when you consider that they’ve only been a band for six years.

If you’ve liked everything that this Knoxville wrecking crew have done up until now¸ there’s no reason why you shouldn’t like what their self-titled has to offer. And if you’re not a fan of Whitechapel¸ then give it a listen anyway: it’s definitely in the same ballpark as your Lamb of Gods and Devildrivers. The truth is¸ Whitechapel are crossing over. They’re still as heavy as they were when they first come out; they’ve just got better at making that brutality more palatable for a wider audience. There’s nothing wrong with writing hooks or stripping down things down so long as the end result is great songs. Not all of ‘Whitechapel’ can be classified as such (‘Section 8’)¸ but when the band hit their stride¸ they hit it hard. By no means an overhauling of the genre¸ it’s a darn good blueprint for its future if there ever was one.

8.5/10

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