Alright, so this might just be mindless speculation on my part, but I have to say it. After listening to their latest single it dawned upon me; Whitechapel just released a nu-metal song. The standard hard rock composition combined with the simplistic (but catchy), down-tuned groove that drives the song is more reminiscent of a Family Values tour than of Summer Slaughter. Even the rhythmic patterns in the vocals during the verses are structured in a way that’s akin to Funk/Rap Metal. Granted, the band has kind of been hinting at this stylistic change since their 2012 self-titled release, yet it just hasn’t been as blatant as it is now with the “Mark of the Blade”.
Before I continue, I need to clarify that this is in no way meant to be taken as negative criticism toward Whitechapel or the nu-metal scene. I have always respected the band, and still enjoy most of their musical output. I am also a huge fan of many nu-metal bands including Deftones, Korn, and yes even Limp Bizkit. The point I am really speculating on is whether or not Whitechapel is becoming part of the overall “revival nu-metal” movement; in which second generation deathcore bands are gradually abandoning their initial sound in favor of one more aligned with late 90’s/early 00’s alternative metal.
Here’s the real kicker; sometimes this transition works in favor of the band, and sometimes it leads to their ultimate degradation. For example, after Bring Me the Horizon abandoned the Gothenburg worship on their debut they began to release albums that improved in terms of composition and sound quality, thus allowing them to gain a larger following while also becoming respected members of the hard rock community.
On the other end, bands such as Emmure ended up stagnating creatively shortly after making the transition into nu-metal territory. As a consequence they’ve failed to experiment further or continue to refine their sound; thus becoming less of an influential force and more of a “punch line” for jokes within the community.
Where does Whitechapel fall back into this scenario? Well that depends on a couple factors. First, they displayed an impressive amount of confidence as a deathcore band. “The Somatic Defilement” took what bands like Despised Icon were doing a few years prior and managed to multiply the brutality and darkness 10x, while simultaneously making their sound alluring enough to draw in a new audience. They weren’t just At the Gates with heavy breakdowns, they were mother fucking Whitechapel! So the question remains, if the band had already developed a confident and unique style, would a drastic alteration of that style be worth it if it resulted in an overwhelming loss of fans?
Second, Whitechapel were already experienced musicians before the time of their stylistic shift. If you consider their 2012 release as the first time in which they experimented outside the confines of the deathcore sub-genre, then you have to also realize that they had already released three albums prior, and that each album demonstrated a massive improvement upon the last. As awesome as “A New Era of Corruption” was, it was apparent that with that album they had exhausted the possibilities of their deathcore sound, and were ready to move onto something different. This is the reality of the creative mind; you’re never satisfied because there is always something new you have to master. Whitechapel are just too creative to rely exclusively on blast-beats and breakdowns to carry their career.
So the reception for this new track basically results in three different scenarios. First, the listener could be either mildly apathetic or completely pissed off that Whitechapel has changed their sound so drastically since 2010. Second, the listener could applaud Whitechapel’s evolution as a band and/or actively reprimand those who complain about how their sound has changed. Third, the listener could take each song/album at face value and just enjoy what he or she likes about the band. DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
Anyways, I am very interested in checking out the new Whitechapel album, “Mark of the Blade”, set to be released this June!