Release Date: Jun 24, 2016
Record label: Metal Blade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Death Metal, Metalcore
Metal may be marked as the heaviest genre of music, but it has also become quite repetitive in its use of breakdowns, blast beats, guttural vocals, and lyrical tropes of killing and demons. For all the songs that include technical chemistry, hellish lows and soaring high vocals, it sometimes all sounds the same. From time to time we are given albums that remind us that metal is also a unique genre, and in some ways, the one that continues to evolve the most, as some bands continue to push essence of sound and reinvent it.
In making a record that indulges so many of their songwriting obsessions, Whitechapel's The Mark of the Blade might have been a mess. It's not. Sequence and flow, moods and styles, all form a coherent whole -- albeit one that might have used a tad more judicious editing. But it's hard to fault a band for trying new things, especially when what they deliver is an album with far more hits than misses.
Mosh. After a decade of unadulterated carnage, Whitechapel have earned the right to throw a curveball or two. Dialling back the deathcore shtick in favour of sludgy, ten-tonne grooves, dark theatrics and (whisper it) the odd smattering of melodic vocals, they’ve torn up the textbook in style here.Phil Bozeman still sounds like he has a demon living in his throat, but the apocalyptic intensity of ‘Decennium’ and Tool-meets-Slipknot slow-burn of ‘Bring Me Home’ resemble nothing else in the Tennessee neck-snappers’ repertoire.
Commemorating their ten-year anniversary, Knoxville, TN's Whitechapel unleash Mark of the Blade. The band have been moving further away from their deathcore sound over the last few years, changing their logo with 2014's Our Endless War and incorporating a more dynamic style that finds the band weaving thrash-style riffs and classic death metal melodies through the groove-filled numbers. Mark of the Blade picks up where Our Endless War left off, but takes things a step further, in a number of directions."The Void" and the title track are quintessential Whitechapel, featuring catchy deathcore grooves.
First and foremost: Yes, Phil Bozeman does deliver clean vocals on this record. But old school Whitechapel fans can hold off having any impending panic attacks because the revered death-metal growler only sings on one song, “Bring Me Home.” Though it’s strangely reminiscent of some kind of combination of Benjamin Burnley (Breaking Benjamin), Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace) and Stone Sour-model Corey Taylor, he’s got a surprisingly good voice. “Bring Me Home” works with the heaviness of the rest of the record in providing a more ominous, subdued tone that gives the band’s sound more depth.