Whitechapel: Our Endless War – Album Review

by Mike Lawrence on May 1, 2014

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For those of you that have checked out Whitechapel before you know that they are much more than your typical deathcore band.  They have always brought much more to the table than the dime a dozen Emmures of the world.  With each of their first four albums, the band has managed to add slight bits of evolution to their sound helping them to remain fresh and stand out in the world of deathcore.  On their latest album, Our Endless War, the band has once again changed things up.  However, this time Whitechapel has probably made the biggest jump of their career, so much so that categorizing this album as deathcore would be doing it a total disservice.  Don’t get me wrong, the trademark Whitechapel sound is still there, but the band has added in heavy doses of thrash and traditional death metal.  There are even some slight progressive traces on a few tracks.  The spectacular production of Mark Lewis, who also produced The Black Dahlia Murder’s amazing 2013 album Everblack, has really helped to bring out all that Whitechapel has to offer.  In other words, Whitechapel has created their heaviest  and most well written record to date.

Truly I have nothing to complain about with Our Endless War.  From the very beginning, the album punches you directly in the face and never lets you get back up.  Things begin with a short intro instrumental.  Usually I despise these and consider them to be throwaways, but “Rise” has a purpose.  It sets up the album perfectly and then quickly throws you into the heavy, thrash driven title track “Our Endless War”.   Other tracks that include some of this new found punishing death thrash style include “The Saw Is The Law”, “Mono” and “Blacked Out”.

Obviously we also get a heavy kick of Whitechapel’s signature grooves and breakdowns.  However, this time around these catchy portions are a lot more akin to traditional death metal than deathcore.  We even get some down and dirty guttural vocals on the song “Worship the Digital Age”.  Not only that, but the double bass and blast beat drumming from Ben Harclerode is nothing short of spectacular.  The more death metal sound continues on the track “Diggs Road” and the limited edition bonus songs “A Process So Familiar” and “Fall of the Hypocrites”.

I also mentioned the slight use of some progressive elements on the album.  The most noticeable would be the djent-like palm muting on “The Saw is the Law”.  The less noticeable elements will come to those of you with a trained ear.  There are some really odd time signatures on “How Times Have Changed”, not only in the music but also the vocals.  Also, “Psychopathy” contains a really excellent quieter, proggy breakdown in the middle that you should make sure not to miss.

Whitechapel’s latest offering is one of those rare albums where every track has something great to offer.  This makes it increasingly difficult to pick out the stand out tracks.  However, if I was forced to choose the tracks that blew me away as being the best, I would say “Our Endless War”, “Let Me Burn”, “Psychopathy”, “Blacked Out” and “Diggs Road”.

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“Our Endless War”  has a great death thrash feel mixed with exceptional lyrical content.  “Let Me Burn” is one of the few tracks that I could call almost straight deathcore, but it is done in a way that only Whitechapel can do it.  It contains one of the catchiest grooves on the album.  The song starts a bit quieter and slow, but immediately kicks into lead singer Phil Bozeman screaming “The mouth of hell is wide open”.  Also, if you are a fan of breakdowns, this song has some of their best breakdown work.  “Psycopathy” has a great quiet guitar picked open that once again jumps immediately to screamed vocals.  Here is where we get that great progressive breakdown I mentioned and a thrashy guitar solo.  On “Blacked Out” things jump back to fast thrash guitar with incredible double bass and blast beat drumming.  This one includes another mixed breakdown and thrash style solo and finishes things off with a catchy groove.

Now we get to arguably the best song on the album, “Diggs Road”.  The track kicks off with a very solid guitar open, that goes into more of a traditional death metal groove.  The great thing about this track is it includes the album’s two best guitar solos and some harmonized guitar work.  This really gives things an almost melodic death metal feel.  This is a sound that Whitechapel was made for and I’d love to see them expand more on it on their next record.

The fact that the album moves a bit away from deathcore also helps Bozeman’s vocals.  This is probably his best work to date and really allows the listener to pick up on how great the band’s lyrics truly are.  Lyrics like “Let’s take back our justice for all” and “Sweet land of idiocracy”  really pop on the song “Our Endless War”.  The chorus on “Worship the Digital Age” is another instance where the lyrics really get a chance to stand out from the rest of the track.

If I had one complaint, it would be that the album is too short.  I wanted to hear more of this intense metal and ten tracks and thirty-eight minutes just wasn’t enough.  If I’m being totally honest, with the intro track, the album really only has nine full songs.  If you are able to, make sure you pick up the limited edition version of the album.  This way you get two more excellent tracks.  “A Process So Familiar” expands on the melodic death metal sound from  “Diggs Road”  with solid guitar harmonies and a fast, yet technically perfect solo.  The other bonus song,  “Fall of the Hypocrites”, is end to end guttural vocals and blast beats giving the album it’s only full straight death metal song.

Whitechapel has previously given the world four solid albums, but they have taken such a huge leap with Our Endless War that it is without a shadow of a doubt their best release yet.  I would recommend this album to any fan of heavy metal music.  For those of you that are fans of death metal and thrash but have never really like deathcore or Whitechapel for that matter, mark my words, you will love this record.  Everything about this album is near perfect, including the musicianship (especially the drumming), the vocals, the lyrics, the production and the song arrangements.  All the songs are full on no nonsense, violent heavy metal.  The term “All pit, no shit” coined by Jamey Jasta is the perfect description, but the album is even so much more than that.    The fact that the band has fully expanded on a ton of different sounds that they only lightly delved into on previous albums and that they are able to do it without totally falling on their face is unbelievable.  Get every bad stereotype and the stigma of deathcore out of your head and go out and get this album.  You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 4.3/5

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