The Lowdown: Thirteen years and seven albums into their career, Whitechapel have crafted one of their most fascinating works with The Valley. The album is the furthest departure the band has ever taken from that deathcore sound found back on The Somatic Defilement. More fascinating, however, is the emotional depths in which The Valley explores, and how brilliantly that emotion intertwines with equally brutal and passionate instrumentals.
The Good: The Valley is brimming with heartache and desperation as vocalist/lyricist Phil Bozeman shares the struggles of his childhood. In particular, Bozeman focuses on the troubles regarding his mother, and the back and forth battle between himself and his stepfather. “When a Demon Defiles a Witch”, Third Depth”, and “Doom Woods”, are just a few examples of Bozeman’s revealing intimacy throughout the record. The grim poetic nature of his words provide captivating insight into his life; in “When a Demon Defiles a Witch”, he shares, “What has the world come to when a demon defiles a witch?/ Nobody trusts a word I say/ I can’t erase these memories/ But I will erase humanity.”
Bozeman’s clean vocals make much more of a presence throughout The Valley; that said, it isn’t the only significant change in Whitechapel’s musicianship. The music, distant from any overwhelming deathcore qualities, provides a plethora of diverse compositions that will keep listeners engaged. The instrumentals ride to a catchy, pulse-pounding groove; the drums and bass shift from calculated flows to sporadic flurries, with the guitars shooting off into melodic bursts and menacing rhythms. “Hickory Creek” makes for a tremendous example of the band’s craftsmanship, providing a range of atmosphere that grows from somber and gentle to vibrant and angry.
The Bad: While not a strong complaint, the only issues within The Valley are the few songs that come off as “generic.” While “Lovelace”, “Brimstone”, and “Black Bear” are fine additions, they don’t offer anything unique to stand out among the record’s more intricate and emotional tracks.
The Verdict: Throughout Whitechapel’s career, they’ve built constantly upon their sound; it’s with The Valley that Whitechapel not only provide their best work in years but take the next step up in their artistry. Thanks to a unique blend of instrumentation, excellent vocal talent, and poetic lyricism, Whitechapel’s The Valley takes its place among the upper ranks of the band’s discography.
Essential Tracks: “When a Demon Defiles a Witch”, “Hickory Creek”, “The Other Side”