Whitechapel Fit For A King
The Plot In You
Wednesday, May 18 2016
5:30 PM| 6:00 PM
Upstate Concert Hall
1208 New York 146
Clifton Park, New York 12065
Returning with the fifth full-length of their decimating career, there is no stopping the juggernaut that is Whitechapel. Our Endless War is the culmination of everything the Knoxville, Tennessee sextet have worked toward since their inception. A ruthlessly honed album that refuses to compromise on brutality, it is also by far their most streamlined, atmospheric, and emotionally powerful release, pushing every aspect of their sound to the next level. "The record grasps everything that we've done thus far," states guitarist Alex Wade. "It's got some of the elements from Whitechapel (2012), but also some from A New Era Of Corruption (2010) and This Is Exile (2008). It brings back the blastbeats and really aggressive sounding stuff from those earlier records, but it also has a lot of layers and some slower, more groove-oriented songs, which have become a big part of what we do."
Having progressed with every record, on Whitechapel the band took a stylistic leap forward, garnering a whole army of new fans and greater critical respect in the process. Looking back on the record Wade is grateful for the doors it kicked down, but refusing to ever be satisfied has served as a profound motivator in the band's evolution. "Whitechapel is a record that we all loved and put a lot of effort into, and I believe that was the beginning of us maturing our sound. But, two years later I feel that there were only four or five really good songs on there, while on Our Endless War I feel like every song is a great song. There's no filler, there's nothing there for the sake of it, and I stand behind everything we put into it." This determination is immediately apparent. Having started to "seriously" write in February of 2013, the album was a year in the making, the band letting the writing develop organically while putting everything under a microscope, working harder on perfecting every song than they ever had before. "As we get older we're learning how to write better songs. Earlier on in our career there was a lot of piecing riffs together, but now we sit back and really analyze every aspect of what we're doing on a song, and I think that shows."
For vocalist Phil Bozeman, Whitechapel opened doors for the band to truly come into their own. "Since putting out that record we felt as if we weren't held back by what people expected us to write. The best thing a band can have is diversity and show you can be talented no matter what type of music you're writing or performing, and that record did that for us." Accordingly, Our Endless War is indeed diverse, each song occupying its own space while contributing to the overall feel of the record. Opening with brief brooding instrumental "Rise", anyone concerned that the band might be lightening up will swiftly be silenced as the title track tears them a new one, for the first time introducing a visceral thrash element to their sound. "We've always had really fast parts, but that's a genre of metal we've never tapped into. Zach (Householder, guitar) is a huge thrash fan and brought that riff to us. We put a lot of effort into really bringing these lively thrash elements to the record, if we were going to do it we were going to do it right, but our way, and I think we pulled that off." Demonstrating they do every bit as much damage no matter what tempo they play at, the mechanical horror of "Let Me Burn" is one of the biggest songs the band have put their name to, while six-minute closer "Diggs Road" sees them scaling some seriously epic heights. "We wanted to make these songs as big as we possibly could, and we really focused on what's going to sound great when played live. A lot of people first hear us live, and we want songs that are not only going to sound good on the record." Famed for their three-guitar lineup, the band have always packed a crushing sonic punch, but on Our Endless War they take greater advantage of this than previously. Frequently, the seven-stringers build dramatic, incredibly heavy walls of thrilling noise through interweaving their parts, making for a sonic richness that pulls listeners even further into the songs. "On A New Era and Exile we had that kind of old school metal mindset: two guitar tracks, bass, drums, vocals - here it is, let's go. That changed on the self-titled record. We started not being afraid to really utilize the three guitars, and on the new record we didn't hold back on giving songs a lot of layers and textures to create something that is not only heavy but has a real depth to it."
As with all of Whitechapel's releases the heaviness does not just stem from the music but Bozeman's lyrics, showing characteristic diversity across the record's ten tracks. "The Saw Is The Law" shows defiance in the face of the band's detractors, while the futile loss of hope of an average man is explored in truly unsettling fashion on "Let Me Burn". He attacks the manner in which technology has overtaken contemporary life on "Worship The Digital Age", and on "Diggs Road" he unflinchingly delves into the struggles and suicidal thoughts stemming from losing his parents at an early age. As varied as they are, all of these themes are united by the title of record. "Our Endless War refers to every type of war. World war, personal war, life is war, no matter if you're happy, sad, depressed or emotionless. You have to fight every day to live no matter if it's a small or large-scale problem, whether it's an easy battle or a hard one."
When it came to tracking the album the band considered no one beyond Mark Lewis, who helmed Whitechapel. "Making the self-titled record went so well, we loved the way it came out, our label loved the way it came out, and our fans kept telling us that it was our best sounding record so it would have been stupid not to work with him again!" Wade laughs. "We're all close in age, so it's not like working with an older producer where we may be a little scared to speak up about things. With Mark we're all on the same page, making it really easy to work together, and the whole process went so smoothly." For the artwork, the band turned again to Aaron Marsh, who supplied Whitechapel with its stark, arresting imagery, but again they wanted to push things to the next level. "With the sound maturing we felt like the artwork needed to reflect that. We also introduced a new logo - our old logo is classic Whitechapel, and that's not something we plan on getting rid of, but as the band grows and changes we felt like we needed the logo to represent the maturity of this new Whitechapel."
With a lot of touring ahead of them, maintaining their hard working ethic that will see them whipping crowds into a frenzy the world over, there is arguably no metal band out there right now able to play to such diverse crowds as Whitechapel. Having previously drawn rabid crowds on both Warped Tour and Summer Slaughter, in 2013 they supported UK metalcore mob Asking Alexandria and label mates Gwar, causing a stir with both bands' audiences. "That we can play to a lot of different demographics is one of the things I'm most grateful for. We can play to the fourteen to eighteen year old Asking Alexandria crowd, and then we can play to the mid twenties to mid forties Gwar crowd. It's always been like that, and that's an amazing thing, because it strips us of the kind of limitations a lot of bands face. Whitechapel opened a lot of doors for us and we want to open a whole lot more with this new record. This is the best we've ever been, and we don't want to let anything stand in our way."