One of the titans of the deathcore scene, Whitechapel, have unleashed their latest behemoth record, The Valley, via Metal Blade Records. Whitechapel have cemented a concrete name for themselves since their 2007 debut, The Nomadic Defilement, and have become an iconic band in the genre, leading to sell-out shows and an immense following. After dipping their toes into melodic territory in their previous release, Mark of the Blade, how will The Valley fare up against their discography?
With a position such as Whitechapel’s, it would be easy to create another mass-appealing record which adheres to their formula. However, The Valley immediately gives the impression that it has something to say, other than prove. The record follows vocalist Phil Bozeman’s trials through life, and are a means to project how events influenced and affected him. As a result, the record is injected with more purpose and self-importance than any previous release, and the overall feel of the record is very natural.
When A Demon Defiles a Witch is one of the standout tracks on the record, and carries on with the melodic experimentation we heard in Mark of the Blade. Bozeman’s damning vocals churning “How could the world take you away from me? They all deserve to burn with me” lead way to a soft, melodic section laden with emotion and clean singing. It’s moments like these which really demonstrate Whitechapel’s growth, and their potential to delve more into the melodic side of metal. They still have their signature, slightly groovy deathcore sound, but it’s significantly more mature and refined on The Valley.
The clean sections we heard on Mark of the Blade have been improved dramatically in this record, which make for a more refined and determined sound while feeling less forced. Bozeman’s beautifully filthy vocals still ring true of Whitechapel, which will appeals to fans old and new. We have the stark contrast between the crushing Forgiveness Is Weakness, which is signature Whitechapel, and the emotional Hickory Creek. The latter retains a mostly heavy instrumental side, which complement Bozeman’s clean vocals exquisitely.
There are some relatively forgettable tracks and moments on The Valley, such as Doom Woods, which seems to struggle to bring anything new to the table, and feels a little safe. There are some elements of experimentation with melody here, but none done better than other tracks on the record. These weaker moments are sparse in The Valley, however, as Black Bear provides grooves aplenty and the explosive When a Demon Defies a Witch help keep this record standing strong.
The Valley is arguably Whitechapel’s most ambitious album thus far by trying to balance crushing darkness with heartfelt, soft sections with emotional cleans. Covering dark, emotional content requires an equally dark album, and at that Whitechapel have succeeded. While there are some weak moments on the record, The Valley overall stands as a landmark in the band’s history as they begin to tread into new, more complex waters. If they focus on developing their melodic side, we could see a new era in Whitechapel’s sound.
Standout Tracks: When A Demon Defiles A Witch, Black Bear, We Are One
For Fans Of: Fit For An Autopsy, Chelsea Grin, Aversions Crown
Written by: Jordan McEvoy