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Album Review: Whitechapel’s Mark of the Blade Will Shred You into Pieces

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If you’ve read anything I’ve written for MetalSucks — and you’ve seen the name I write under — then you probably know that I’m a pretty big Whitechapel fan. I’ll admit that I was a little bit underwhelmed with the band’s last album Our Endless War, but I’m excited to say that Mark of the Blade is an improvement on its predecessor in every way possible.

Whitechapel’s sound has changed a bit with each record they’ve put out. Although Mark of the Blade continues with the more groovy feel that OEW had, it also brings back some of the heaviness and the deathcore buzzsaw attack that made 2012’s self-titled album so great. But the biggest jump on Mark of the Blade is the introduction of Phil Bozeman’s clean singing. Phil has one of the most recognizable vocal styles in metal, so it’s understandable that people would be hesitant about hearing any singing alongside to his hollow demon pipes of doom. That said, the man has one hell of a singing voice; had I not known that there were clean vocals on the record before I listened to it, I would have just assumed that Whitechapel called up Corey Taylor for a few guest bits.

Even if you can’t stand singing in your metal then you’re still in luck. The only tracks that have cleans on them are album closer “Decennium” and the fourth track “Bring Me Home,” which is about the death of Phil’s father. The lyrics on “Bring Me Home,” both clean and screamed, have a lot more weight to them with that in mind. Guitarist Alex Wade said it himself when I interviewed him. The cleans have a purpose and they’re not just there to be trendy.

So what’s the final word? This album is good. Really good. Not only because Whitechapel took a gamble with their clean vocals and it paid off, but because the groovier sound they’ve been developing over the past few albums has matured and tightened up. On Mark of the Blade the band feels like an incredibly cohesive unit, and the result is the best Whitechapel album we’ve had since A New Era of Corruption. If you like Whitechapel then you’ll love this album. If you don’t feel like giving it a chance just because of the clean vocals then you may promptly insert a saw blade into your rectum.

Mark of the Blade drops June 24 via Metal Blade. You can stream the album here and pre-order it here. You can also see Whitechapel on tour this summer at a Warped Tour near you.

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