The American deathcore quintet known as Whitechapel presents you with their sixth studio album Mark of the Blade. The album was released on June 24th under Metal Blade Records. Those of you who have been paying attention to the media might’ve already heard the title track or Elitist Ones, for which a video was published just days ago.
Deathcore and related genres are quite a new acquired taste of mine and I have to admit, the deathcore bands I know by name I can probably count on two hands, but when I first listened to Mark of the Blade, I found it very distinguishing from the rest of the scene. I still don’t know whether that is because they are still trying to find their true identity, or because they just managed to break the stereotype. Everything you’re used to is there, the level of aggression, both lyrically, vocally and instrumentally; listening to pretty much anything on this record makes me want to take part in a violent moshpit, or any similar activity. Musicianship is very good, the music is tight as fuck, nothing to add on that. However, it’s got something extra, or less, depending on how you look at it. If I compare this to similar artists, this feels just as heavy, if not heavier, though the music feels slower, which I think is more suitable for headbanging (which is mandatory, of course!).
Album opener The Void: very neat track. Lots of floor tom action going on behind the drums, which adds that comfy hollow sound to some parts of the song. The song features many, well-placed transitions towards the end of the song which show the diversity of the musicians. Overall, The Void is practically on average what the album sounds like. The sound of this album is almost djent; it hits you right in the gut and I can’t help but wanting to bounce around like some hardcore douche. Mark of the Blade is not a disappointing song, nor is it a masterpiece. It’s definitely a headbang/singalong anthem, some vocal parts are a little off, if you ask me, but overall the sound is nice. What I do notice, though, is that when you concentrate too much on the heavy stuff, you become oblivious to the lead riffs in the background. But don’t worry, there’s enough melodic solo material to go around on this album. Bring Me Home caught me by surprise. I guess it would be the heavier equivalent of a power ballad? Anyway, very slow track, reminded me of some of Chimaira’s slower songs at times, mainly due to the overall composition and vocals during the chorus. I guess they’re trying to get in touch with their emotional side, much like Lamb of God did last year with Overlord. A Killing Industry is my personal favorite. It’s one of the faster tracks on the album. That, combined with the present vocals and instrumentals make for a hell of an exhibition of musical aggression.
All in all, I’d give this album a solid 7.5! I don’t like this album for its melody, because you’ll find little of that on Mark of the Blade, but actually for focusing on one general sound, brought to you in a different way in each song, with details added to each individual song, of course. However, don’t get lost in the heavy sound, if you listen closely, you’ll notice some really nice riffage, and I have to say, the solo’s are amazing and caught me by surprise every time. Big ups for the instrumental track Brotherhood which stands out in so many ways. Actually, I suggest you listen to that track first, before you write Whitechapel off as a ”13 in a dozen” band.