Whitechapel – The Valley
Released: March 29th, 2019
Phil Bozeman // Vocals
Ben Savage // Lead Guitar
Alex Wade // Rhythm Guitar
Gabe Crisp // Bass
Zach Householder // Guitar
Navene Koperweis // Drums
“I can’t erase these memories, but I will erase humanity”
Whitechapel’s 7th full-length, The Valley, is an unrelenting sonic assault. It is brutal and heavy, showcasing a band that keeps going from strength to strength, ever evolving their aggressive sound. There is no compromising; this is Whitechapel at their best.
There is an obvious maturity to be heard in their song-writing and structure, any old fans will instantly recognise the ominous onslaught of Whitechapel in the opening track ‘When a Demon Defiles a Witch’, which sets the tone and atmosphere from the get-go. Although The Valley might lack some of the attack of the earlier material, it offers a much more polished sound, fleshing out the melodies rather than increasing the bpm’s, which I assume should partially be credited to producer Mark Lewis (Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder), and of course Navene Koperweis, formerly of Animals As Leaders and Animosity, behind the drum kit. These are great songs, as opposed to a mere selection of shredding riffs. That said, there are plenty of those as well, but this is a much more cohesive and polished approach to this heavy album as a whole.
The trouncing grind of ‘Forgiveness Is Weakness’, the pounding groove of ‘Black Bear’, the pressing melodies of ‘The Other Side’ and the crushing descent into ‘Doom Woods’ all help to build an album steeped in melancholia and darkness. Even ‘Hickory Creek’, their first song to all but exclusively feature clean singing, hammers home the reality of loss. The haunting pain of vocalist Bozeman’s childhood hardships is evident in both the lyrical content and the delivery, manifesting an emotional and deeply personal catharsis. Reflecting on his youth in Hardin Valley, Tennessee, where Bozeman grew up, his words transcend common and cringy tropes of the genre, instead bringing forth a real sense of angst and fear and how to deal with it.
“It’s all about me as a child, and some of it is me looking back on that time from the perspective of now,” he explains. “Also, it’s my interpretation of my mom’s struggles and her different personalities. She had a journal that contained very disturbing and sometimes evil writings, and some of her quotes and a lot of that journal is in the lyrics.”
Make sure you check out the video for ‘Hickory Creek’ as well, which ends with a dedication to the lead vocalist Phil Bozeman’s mother (see it below). A top contender for album of the year for me.
Whitechapel – The Valley tracklisting
1. When a Demon Defiles a Witch
2. Forgiveness Is Weakness
4. Hickory Creek
5. Black Bear
6. We Are One
7. The Other Side
8. Third Depth
10. Doom Woods
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