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Album Reviews : Whitechapel – Mark of the Blade

By on August 14, 2016

579388Over the course of the last ten years, I’ve tried incredibly hard to like Whitechapel. Their first few albums, while enjoyable, were never anything close to groundbreaking or special, and the fact that they have three guitarists in their ranks while never playing anything far from the first five frets adds to the mediocrity that cemented them firmly in their deathcore scene status. The most frustrating thing about Whitechapel is that there are genuine traces of a great band lurking within, but for everything but a few exceptions, that great band remains nowhere to be seen. Case in point: Mark of the Blade.

Their latest offering continues essentially exactly where they left off with 2014’s Our Endless War, with slow to mid paced plodding songs that serve merely to feature the best two things about the band: Phil Bozeman and Ben Harclerode. Bozeman is, as always, a vocal juggernaut, plowing his way through the songs with force and aggressive intent. In my honest opinion, Bozeman is probably one of the best vocalists in metal at present. His lyrics, while sometimes one-dimensional, suit his delivery, and some of the choruses will no doubt have ferocious impact live. The only times his vocals lose their effectiveness is on the two songs they’ve chosen to utilize clean vocals on; “Bring Me Home” and “Decennium” are a little on the weak side, and it’s easy to tell just how uncomfortable Phil is trying to sing. Harclerode seems to be a bit of a sleeper in the band, but listening close enough reveals just how capable he is on the kit. The solo work has improved, with each solo breathing life back into stale and dead songs; one would reason that someone with an ear for the melodies would’ve been able to construct better riffs, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

The majority of the songs on Mark of the Blade are stock standard chugging and simplistic nu metal hooks that always feel like they’re building up to something that they never quite reach. The title track is probably the blandest on the album, literally relying on two frets for the majority of the song and doesn’t really inspire or engage any feeling but boredom. The same could be said for tracks like “Bring Me Home,” “Dwell in the Shadows,” and “Venomous.” Arguably the best track on the record is “The Elitist Ones,” using powerful lyrics that stomps its way into memory.

Overall, Mark of the Blade probably won’t leave any lasting mark at all. I had hoped that after a while, Whitechapel would take a path similar to The Black Dahlia Murder or Job For A Cowboy and either utilize the same style while improving overall technical prowess, or innovate in ways that shook up the formula. But instead Whitechapel are sort of like the Korn of the deathcore genre; immensely popular for doing the same, simple thing over and over again. Mark of the Blade isn’t worth your time. Go spend your money on Carnifex‘s new album instead.

About

Benjen is a qualified teacher residing in the south-east suburbs of Perth. Benjen was introduced to hard rock at the age of 12 with Papa Roach's "Love-Hate Tragedy," and has developed a love for hard rock and metal since. He also has a keen interest in gaming and almost every fandom imaginable, from Doctor Who to Deadpool. He can be followed on Twitter @thetoadmode