01. When a Demon Defiles a Witch 02. Forgiveness is Weakness 03. Brimstone 04. Hickory Creek 05. Black Bear 06. We Are One 07. The Other Side 08. Third Depth 09. Lovelace 10. Doom Woods2019 Metal Blade Records
I can't say that I've ever been a huge Whitechapel fan. What really stood out in my mind early on had to do with them being, along with The Acacia Strain, one of the most well-known deathcore bands to employ three full-time guitarists; I frequently wondered how the genre necessitated that kind of firepower. Regardless, since then I've enjoyed their music over the years and respect them as one of the leading forces in deathcore over the past decade or so. Halfway through the first track ("When A Demon Defiles A Witch") of this album, several things immediately stand out. For starters, the mix is somewhat awkward as the vocals seem to be unnaturally superimposed over the instrumentation. Additionally, there is an abundance of clean, alternative rock style vocals in the background that feel slightly out of place; it's not so much that these vocals are poorly done, but that they come across as a blatant attempt to appeal to a wider audience. This, along with some very generic acoustic rock guitar, creates an almost painful listening experience for anyone expecting music similar to Whitechapel's previous work. The second track, "Forgiveness Is Weakness," kicks into full gear and provides more for fans of the band and heavy music in general. There are some nice heavy (if perhaps somewhat simplistic) riffs along with the requisite breakdowns and double bass. Other tracks like "We Are One" and "The Other Side" provide more of the same. One issue on a couple of these tracks is that while we can applaud their effort in doing over-the-top shredding guitar solos, unfortunately when they do they often come up short, as if they are out of their element from a technical standpoint (not unlike Chimaira in their later stages trying to transcend their reputation as a simplistic groove/nu-metal band). Although the riffs and heavy parts are well-done, this record's main drawback is the alt-rock clean singing and guitar accompaniments which seem to show up far too often. Along with the album opener, tracks like "Hickory Creek" and "Third Depth" are anchored by Nickelback-style crooning while others also attempt clean hooks and softer melodies which are jarringly out of place. Bottom Line: The traditional Whitechapel deathcore on this album is competent enough to make longtime fans of this band or genre happy, but it's not amazing by any means. Unfortunately, attempts to transcend their genre and musical niche largely flat on their face and come off as desperation by a band late in their career, struggling to remain relevant in an ever-changing musical landscape.