Our Endless War

Tennessee's Whitechapel have always had the ambition to stand above the deathcore pack, and they've long been one of the genre's leaders. While the band are still struggling to really emerge with an identity on their fifth album, they are moving in the right direction.

Take "The Saw Is The Law," a tune so filled with staccato blasts of groove and haunting slow-burn lead work over repetitive grooves that it threatens to just be a Meshuggah clone, but the scatting nü-metal vocals (work with me here) give the song personality. "Worship The Digital Age" shows the band locking into a slower chug, and it works well and contrasts the more hardcore edge of tunes like the title track nicely. Not that the title track needs contrasting: it's anthemic and raging and will no doubt have fans raising the Whitechapel flag high once again.

The epic ambition of closer "Diggs Road" is a great sign of where this band could go: cinematic in vibe, the tune sprawls itself over six minutes but never gets dull. The best part is that it doesn't rely on deathcore fallbacks when it doesn't know what to do next: Instead, the band take a minute to think before moving ahead. Well played, guys.

Despite blastbeats being part and parcel of deathcore, when Whitechapel lay down some grind on the album, it doesn't really flow: "Blacked Out" works better when it's raging like hardcore than attempting to blast like grindcore. Plus, the thick, processed production just does not mesh well with grinding. (Can someone cc: Aborted in on that memo please and thanks?)

We always want to see Whitechapel emerge with a bit more identity, and they're never quite there; despite the improvements on this disc, there is still faceless deathcore that could have been played by any number of bands all over it. But with Our Endless War, the band have shown they have more than enough skills, and they finally have enough ideas; it's time for them to take the plunge, break through deathcore's confines, and become the band they could be.

Metal Blade http://www.metalblade.com

"Our Endless War"