(2019) The Valley

Whitechapel

... read moreThe Valley is the seventh full-length from Tennessee's deathcore heroes Whitechapel and their most personal, melodically progressive, complex release to date. The album title is a reference to singer Phil Bozeman's hometown of Hardin Valley, Tennessee. The song lyrics and subject matter are drawn...

Explicit

40′:29″ 10 Songs

1
When A Demon Defiles A Witch
Whitechapel
5:04
2
Forgiveness Is Weakness
Whitechapel
2:55
3
Brimstone
Whitechapel
3:25
4
Hickory Creek
Whitechapel
4:56
5
Black Bear
Whitechapel
3:08
6
We Are One
Whitechapel
3:58
7
The Other Side
Whitechapel
3:17
8
Third Depth
Whitechapel
4:07
9
Lovelace
Whitechapel
3:48
10
Doom Woods
Whitechapel
5:51
Released 29 March 2019, ℗ Metal Blade Records

Review

The Valley is the seventh full-length from Tennessee's deathcore heroes Whitechapel and their most personal, melodically progressive, complex release to date. The album title is a reference to singer Phil Bozeman's hometown of Hardin Valley, Tennessee. The song lyrics and subject matter are drawn from his childhood experiences and the trauma he encountered after the premature deaths of his parents some five years apart. Some of his lyrics were taken from his mother's journals detailing her troubled life. Lyrically and musically, that journey began with "Bring Me Home," from 2016's Mark of the Blade, addressing the death of his father. It proved divisive for fans, given the band's pursuit of an expansive musical palette that explored more groove-laden, semi-progressive jams instead of limiting itself to the unrelenting deathcore that established their reputation. This outing completes the transition of integration with an unapologetically multi-dimensional attack that embraces progressive elements without forsaking the excess heaviness that has been their trademark since 2008's This Is Exile. While the set's first two cuts -- "When a Demon Defiles a Witch," with its tremolo picking and "Forgiveness Is Weakness" with its blastbeats, confront listeners head-on with deathcore brutality; they also open windows to other sounds such as the clean vocal segment of the former, and the tempo transitions of the latter with blastbeats and time changes. While "Brimstone" is a chugging groovefest with unusual phrasing and a wrangling, low-end bass thrum, single "Hickory Creek" turns the band's approach inside-out. This intensely melodic, melancholy progressive ballad is dedicated to the memory of Bozeman's mother (watch the video). Before its angular breakdown in the bridge, it is delivered with Bozeman's most striking, expressive, clean singing ever and lyrics that transcend virtually everything else he's penned. The low-end throb that has become ever more prevalent in Whitechapel's sound drives the tunes "Black Bear" and "We Are One," with Bozeman's guttural, lower-than-low growl coming through opposite counterpoint guitar riffs and behind-the-beat drumming. "The Other Side," "Third Depth," and "Lovelace" also travel along more extreme and progressive death metal pathways. Closer "Doom Woods" commences similarly but transitions toward clean, gravely singing with chanted backing vocals and production ambience underscoring the choruses. The tune's second half makes use of a gorgeous production aesthetic and nearly clean singing, and sheds its skin for a mellow progressive outro. While most of the band's albums in the 2010s have warranted repeated listenings to absorb, The Valley requires repeats just to get a handle on how much this outfit's approach has developed. Though some fans wishing it were still 2008 may disagree, most fans will embrace Whitechapel's new progression as natural, necessary, and welcome. ~ Thom Jurek