Our Endless WarFeatured review by: UG Team, on may 19, 2014 6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Whitechapel is a deathcore band from Knoxville, Tennessee. Since their founding in 2006, they have managed to keep a steady lineup, except at drums, and have managed to slowly creep into the American mainstream. "Our Endless War," the band's fifth studio album, is their first album to crack the US Billboard top 10. This album is also the band's first album to gain a significant chart position outside of the USA, charting 72nd or better in Canada, Germany, and Austria.
As with any metal band's increasing mainstream appeal, fans will question if the band will change the music to accompany a mainstream audience, known as "selling out." The manner in which Whitechapel has handled its transition to the mainstream is enlightening. This album is still solidly deathcore, but it feels much more polished than previous Whitechapel albums. Not only is the production much cleaner, but the songwriting is too. Whitechapel relies much less on chugging riffs than on melodic passages. The songs also seem less erratic; there's a lot less of those riffs that are many different notes played fast without repeating. Nevertheless, this album is still face pounding metal regardless of how much it seems that Whitechapel has matured.
In addition, Whitechapel's rhythm section stands out on this album. When I listen to older Whitechapel albums, it just seems OK, but here it really jumps out how tight the rhythm section is. Of course, it could just be due to more diligent production values, but I'd like to think that Whitechapel really has improved. In fact, the drumming of Ben Harclerode is so precise that it feels like it made up of a collection of samples. Once again, assuming that the drumming is live for the most part, kudos to Mr. Harclerode.
Despite the maturation and taming (at least by deathcore standards) of Whitechapel, the album still doesn't feel incredible. To me, it seems like the previous albums were mercurial jam sessions compared to the focused compositions that make up this album. Moreover, while Whitechapel has definitely shown growth and improvement, the end result isn't dissimilar to what many other bands are putting out. In fact, even though I like Whitechapel's progression, I feel that it has caused them to lose that degree of uniqueness that made them stand out in the metal world.
Now just because the album is not amazing does not mean that it can't be good. I believe that it will please previous Whitechapel fans since each song is certainly charged enough to induce a good headbang every minute or so. These songs would definitely play out well live. And every now and again, there comes a jam/groove that does sound new, unique, and exciting. I guess the best way to sum up this album is that previous fans will be pleased by Whitechapel's progression but people who have never heard them before will likely fail to see them as any different from any other deathcore band. // 7
Lyrics: If there is one thing that has retained continuity from Whitechapel's previous work, it is the vocals. There aren't any clean vocals to speak of and the brutal vocals are as brutal as ever, if not more. The melodies maintain a certain continuity throughout each song, evoking the more focused feel of the rest of the elements of this album. Though the vocals are more "focused," they leave nothing behind; Phil Bozeman gives a passionate performance.
The lyrics of the album discuss social issues within America. They also manage to discuss the issues coherently (as far as metal goes) but politically correctly so as not to step on any one's toes. Basically, it appears that Whitechapel knows how to walk the line between being rebels and being musicians who have political views that nobody wants/cares to know about.
Here is an example from "Our Endless War":
"My country tis of greed, sweet land of idiocracy.
This is our endless war!
While we still have liberty Lets take back our justice for all We can march at sundown upon capitol hill We're calling you out Come face us now and see your true war Let's take it back We the people have spoken against
Our endless war!" // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, this album signifies the recognition by Whitechapel that they are not a small, local phenomenon. In an attempt to become slightly more mainstream (but remember, this is still deathcore) they have refined their songwriting, production skills, and instrumentation to make an album that is much more polished, diversified, yet, ultimately, more predictable than any of their previous releases.
While this slight transition in focus is not a home run, it still feels like a positive stepping-stone of sorts. When Whitechapel fully realizes the potential of the changes in style that they've made, I believe that they have enough talent to make an album that could be described as great, maybe even killer. // 7
Our Endless War
BwareDWare94, on may 19, 2014 3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: As an avid listener of two specific styles of music and many of the genres that encompass them (heavy metal [I don't need to list those genres] and country [Texas country, some Nashville country, americana, etc]), 2014 has so far been a year of albums that have tried to do too much, and "Our Endless War" is yet another example. What we have here is an odd mesh of different metal genres that sacrifice the cohesiveness of the entire album. I'd argue that "Our Endless War"'s country counterpart is Eric Church's "The Outsiders," which is to say that both encompass "sh-t flung at a canvas" in every single way.
First of all, Whitechapel continues to move further and further away from their original sound that made them so interesting in the first place. While they were undoubtedly a deathcore band, they leaned pretty heavily toward the death side of that term and it saved their music from being incessantly boring. Whitechapel also has fallen into a habit of creating ominous sounds in their choruses or near the ends of songs, as evidenced by choruses in the title track and "Let Me Burn" along with the ending of "The Saw Is the Law." I wouldn't mind this so much if it wasn't ripped straight out of Job For A Cowboy's recent sound, and therein lies Whitechapel's current problem - they sound like too many other bands. As soon as "The Saw Is the Law" came out, people were screaming Meshuggah (and poorly done, at that). Then "Mono" was released and people were bitching about it sounding like Slipknot. Eventually, the title track came out and you could hear snippets of Job For A Cowboy all over the choruses in the ominous, slow moving juggernaut sound that calls to mind the title track to "Ruination."
I just don't get it. Whitechapel seems to be seeking what they already had, their own, unique sound - a handful of deathcore chugs but plenty of death metal inspired segments and Scandinavian sounding leads that made one think about classic death metal and Gothenburg at the exact same time. Unfortunately, it appears those days are gone. // 6
Lyrics: Phil Bozeman once made use of many different styles of harsh vocals, and while this album has snippets of that, it's not nearly as frequent as it once was. I understand that Phil's main goal is for his vocals to be understandable, but in that effort he's sacrificed the usage of a wide variety of skills. And don't get me started on the lyrics to this album. For some reason, Phil felt like screaming "KILL YOURSELF!" at the end of "Mono," then screaming about "drinking the blood of children's severed heads" on "Worship the Digital Age." While death metal and deathcore have histories of gratuitously violent lyrics, these two moments in particular are beyond sickening and a very blatant attempt at being "brutal" and "shocking." The album is also littered with silly cliches such as "out of sight, out of mind" and "I've said it before and I'll say it again!" Lyrically, "Our Endless War" is as bad, if not worse than "This Is Exile." And to think, Phil had once progressed to writing lyrics like those in "Devolver." // 4
Overall Impression: At the very least, Whitechapel's arrangements are more complex than they've ever been, Ben Harclerode, in particular, shines on this release. His drumming is tight, precise, and technically enthralling. Every note counts. Unfortunately, there are still some drawbacks. While the band's 3 guitarists show improved technical skill with each release, I'm still baffled by their unwillingness to record the solos on their records. Every guitar solo on this album was recorded by a guitarist named Ben Eller. I don't really understand how this is necessary. The band has 3 guitarists. One of them must be able to record these guitar solos, let alone perform them live. Then again, I do recall several videos of Savage butchering guitar solos live, but he's had how many years to improve his chops? At what point can us fans expect to hear well played leads and solos in a live setting? Has he gotten better? If so, what is necessary about having a guest guitarist record these solos? It's not necessarily an uncommon practice in metal circles, but can't one of these three guitarists pull it off?
And then there's the sheer gimmickry of this new Whitechapel. As soon as you open the case and find the member listings, instead of "Whitechapel is:" you read "Brotherhood of the Blade." How damn lame can this band get, at times? Jesus.
Anyway, enough harping on this band, for now. There are legitimately brilliant moments on this record. "Let Me Burn" comes to mind as a song that just works, as a whole. While the leading riff did nothing to entice me, as soon as the chorus kicked in, I felt like I was being run over by a bulldozer. Even if I don't like that they so blatantly ripped off Job For A Cowboy (I do love Job For A Cowboy, by the way - the criticism isn't meant to imply it sounds bad; it just sounds too similar) elements in the chorus, Whitechapel pulls it off. Another fantastic track, "Diggs Road," is without a doubt one of the best songs this band has recorded. It's remarkably emotional, and instrumentally precise. The inclusion of two guitar solos is, I believe, a first for Whitechapel, and they really help take this song over the top. About the solos - even if they were recorded by a guest guitarist, I must say that each solo on this album is neither too short or too long. They never seem to waste notes, and yet never seem to cut out too early. Even if the album isn't great, that element was remarkably impressive.
Overall, "Our Endless War" is Whitechapel's third best effort. While self titled showed that they'd be moving away from the deathcore sound, it still had enough Whitechapel elements for me to truly enjoy, but I don't know if I could place it above "A New Era of Corruption," which seemed to show some real potential for the way they blended genres at the time, instead of this new method of recording songs that fit into different genres and then trying to put them on a track list to a single album.
With "Our Endless War," listeners get excellent moments, but as an album it's a three legged stool that doesn't sit level. // 6
Our Endless War
vppark2, on may 19, 2014 2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: I've never been an avid listener on many deathcore bands, but Whitechapel has always seemed to have been that one band that leads on all of the other bands within the genre. How many deathcore bands nowadays have stated that Whitechapel is one of their key influences? I'm sure many have said so, and that's not a bad thing, but of course, with that being said, many deathcore bands will try to copy and imitate these guys. Especially with a lead vocalist, like Phil Bozeman, who crushes out energy on the microphone like he was born with such power and angst to be fulfilling his dream in a deathcore band. That being said, the dude still enjoys his life, and free time behind the microphone. He has his own YouTube channel, which features a lot of videos of him just playing "Call of Duty"... and well, other funny things, which I honestly respect. He is just like any of us. He isn't some stuck up asshole in the music scene. He is himself. Anyhow, the vocals on this album seem much different than any other Wc record, which actually is a shame in my opinion. I enjoyed a fair portion of self-titled. This record really doesn't feature too many strong points for Phil. As for guitar duties, there really isn't much to be said here either. The only track that really has much to offer in this field is "Blacked Out." The song is catchy, and features a cool guitar solo. The only really remarkable thing about the sound on this album is the drumming. // 5
Lyrics: The very first track off the record, Rise, transitions well into the title track. I found the lyrics very interesting to say the least:
"Red, White, Blue for ourselves and who? And they still hold the truth so we say F--k you! My country tis of greed, sweet land of idiocracy."
"50 states united as one But we still cant find a solution Where have we gone It seems that our motto to live by When your chin deep in sh-t duck, breathe and die!"
Unfortunately, this is really the only political song off of the album. I was expecting more, since I love it when this band writes songs like that, but oh well. The only other track that really stands out to me, lyrically, is "The Saw Is the Law," which happens to be the lead single. Alex Wade, their rhythm guitarist put a song up on Soundcloud a little less than a year ago, and was jamming out, and needless to say, the song is now used for "The Saw Is the Law." The song is groovy, but repetitive. I really don't think it works very well for Phil's vocal style, but nevertheless, the lyrics are pretty good:
"Our bodies full of scars Infinite blood to bleed Our presence stops your heart And leaves you six feet deep Fall to your knees and recognize your new found king." // 6
Overall Impression: There was a time where I once despised this band, but I soon found out what Phil was capable, vocally. With that said, I was very disappointed with this album overall. The vocals seemed a bit off. Phil's power and range is still there, but it just doesn't like him. It doesn't sound natural. Guitar work definitely could have been better too. The lyrics in some cases seemed better. Although, I don't really get the meaning behind the track, "Worship the Digital Age." That song happens to be my least favorite off the album, but I also did not like the two bonus tracks at all. Other than the title track, and "Blacked Out," "Diggs Road" seemed to have at least try to go somewhere. The song clocks in at six minutes, which is of course the longest track off the album, and I think the longest Whitechapel song ever. I just expected this album to feature so much more after watching the four studio updates they had for this album. Guess they're mainly a live show band. // 6