Label: Metal Blade Records
A very popular habit in our circles is to forever write off bands that attempt a vast change in their sound or go out of the patterns that they once used. The examples are endless. I personally consider this as a token of artistic restlessness and it is by any means respectable and acceptable. Is it always successful? Of course not, but this is also something subjective. What we ought to do is to give it a chance and not to condemn it without proofs. Americans Whitechapel were leaders of the deathcore genre. In that style they got their initial fanbase, but release after release they are distancing themselves from that. From what they never distanced themselves though, is the quality of their releases. First important change in The Valley is Ben Harclerode’s departure and his substitution in the drums with Navene Koperweis. This is as far as the members are concerned. As far as the music goes, there seems to be a larger variety in the sound without losing in immediacy and this is something that makes them stand out from their peers. The atmosphere remains dense and suffocating, the riffs are doomy and sludgy at times (here comes the variety I just mentioned), the groove is gaining ground in the expense of -core, while the clean vocals are more present this time. I mention all these as distinctive features of The Valley in order for you to listen to it somehow prepared. If I had to say something about the gradual shift of their sound, as long as it happens in such a convincing way, I am up for it. At the end of the day, they never lost their edge, neither did they remove themselves from extreme metal. Give the new Whitechapen album some spins and it will reward you as a good choice of modern extreme sound, without further labelling.