While people bemoan the generic nature of deathcore, Whitechapel have become an exception to the rule. The Knoxville sextet are now eight albums into a 15-year career and have continually chipped away at the parameters of the genre to the point where 2019’s The Valley was barely recognisable as deathcore at all. Instead, melody, ethereal soundscapes and grungier guitar tones were all tied together by a cohesive conceptual narrative. No one’s saying they’re David Bowie here but, considering the dogmatic and regimented nature of the scene they came from, Whitechapel show 10 times more ambition than any other band from that world.
Obviously, they were never going to head backwards, and Kin is a further evolution of Whitechapel’s sound, where acoustic guitars and sombre, soaring vocal hooks intertwine with brutal slabs of molten metal. The album opens with the outlaw country strum of I Will Find You, which soon introduces double-kick drums and Phil Bozeman’s patented roar. It’s an exhilarating start, and proves just how important dynamics are to metal.
Many of Whitechapel’s peers seem unable to grasp that the heavy sounds so much heavier if it kicks in behind something delicate and beautiful. For example, the gruesome stomp that arrives on A Bloodsoaked Symphony sounds even more destructive thanks to the anticipation the band build before it arrives, and the little breather they take in the middle of To The Wolves makes the blasting you’ve just taken feel unbelievably savage. Toward the end of the album Phil allows his clean vocals to dominate the record; he’s been doing it on the last few Whitechapel albums, but not consistently to this extent, and it sounds glorious. Purists may bemoan what has become of them, but that’s their loss. Kin is another evolutionary step from deathcore’s most creative minds.
Kin is released on October 29 via Metal Blade Records