With its self-titled fourth record, Tennessee deathcore band Whitechapel appears to have finally come into its own. A fully collaborative effort among six band members—including three guitarists—the shared writing shows in the album’s dense layers and newfound sense of melody. It might be Whitechapel’s most complicated and mature work yet, which is an impressive thing for an act that hasn’t always been very consistent.
Opener “Make It Bleed” leads off with a pensive piano measure before brusquely turning to bellowed vocals and heavy snares. The guitar work is clean and fast, climaxed by a cascading solo and a canorous breakdown. It’s a classically influenced, death-worshipping track and a clear standout on the album. “Faces” and “Dead Silence” feel just as indebted, showing off split vocals that vary from a bone-crunching grumble to a menacingly pitched scream-yell. This slight range works well for frontman Phil Bozeman, whose bland lyrics are probably better off as indistinguishable growls. (A couple choice lines from “(Cult)uralist”: “What will you say when you’re burning in hell?” and “I won’t be the one to fall / I will kill you all.”) Second-to-last song “Devoid” is the one instrumental on the record. A nicely timed metal-ballad, it almost justifies the need for three guitarists. And though the album isn’t without its flaws—the inclusion of the already released, so-so “Section 8” and the brief nü-metal riffages that are scattered throughout—it remains a worthy champion of an underdog subgenre.