Whitechapel – This is Exile

Whitechapel – This is Exile

Whitechapel - This is Exile

I had a flashback to the early days of 1993. Death metal had just about peaked, and many people were looking for the next big thing — in terms of style. Brutality was the catchphrase, and since millions of American kids had just rediscovered early Napalm Death thanks to a desperate search for the roots of underground metal, new bands were popping up that promised to be more brutal than before, usually by playing much faster and eliminating all melody. This flashback was prompted by hearing the hype about Whitechapel in one ear, and the reality played in the other.

Cycles repeat because there are usually relatively few different options in life, but infinite ways to pull off the winning option. After death metal croaked and black metal blew itself out, the usual retro cycle came in, where the remnants of the last decade are swept into a dustpan, recombined, and out comes the “new” solution. What has happened in the merging of metal and emo, pop punk, alternative and new hardcore is a lot like what happened in 1983 when the first thrash bands formed: metal riffs in punk song structures. But punk has grown up, gotten more technical, and in order to justify its dystopian nature, has taken the aesthetic from 1960s protest songs — jarring, slightly dissonant, poignant bittersweet, etc — and blended it with technicality, creating what I refer to as The Cinema of Discontinuous Image. Much of this is the influence of MTV, which specialized in videos in which rapid cutaways from radically different imagery were seen as desirable; these later influenced how Hollywood films dialogue, so it’s not inconceivable they influenced metal. The new hardcore is technical, melodic, and like carnival music in that it moves between ludicrous extremes without building continuity, because being deconstructive is its political fashion.

Whitechapel isn’t alone in being part of this new genre — let’s call it metalcore — that embraces many variants, some as “death metal” as the recent Behemoth CDs, and others as punk as Fugazi but obviously more mile-a-minute. Do people ever get tired of hearing the next most extreme thing? They should, since this stuff isn’t extreme; it’s sped up, and not in any meaningful way from the first Morbid Angel album. It’s like shredders showing off without knowing how to write songs, and since its basic concept of being protest deconstructive is fundamentally opposed to the ideas of songwriting anyway, this music ends up being a random pile of stuff that’s hard to play mixed in with stuff that, like Meshuggah, sounds hard to play until you realize it’s rhythm noodling on a chord. Whitechapel lives by this variation, where fast scalar single note playing is followed by five-position power chord shred riffs, and then the song collapses into some percussive geometries from the E chord, then repeats with keyboards added, this time. Songs build up to a peak frenzy, and then just end. Nothing is learned, nothing is created, but it has political authenticity — comrade Stalin is pleased! — because it is deconstructive protest music that emphasizes the following tenets: life is terrible, there’s nothing we can do, give up now, wail and whine instead of doing anything, it’s not my fault, it’s not your fault.

The synthesized faux death vocals don’t help either. I can see how this CD would impress someone new to the genre because it tries to “break barriers,” but these are all stylistic. It has nothing to say except perhaps to add on to The Brat Manifesto, which is a giant scroll containing all of the justifications created by the human species for doing nothing about its problems, personal or collective. Whitechapel screams out a kind of fetishism with child abuse, poverty, self-destruction and failure, because these excuse the heavy weight of having to take on life. Hint to Whitechapel: all of the great bands became great because they took on that heavy weight like a charging bull and found a way to convert it into positive enemy, like inverse aikido where the attack ends up converting his own momentum into a throw of his hapless prey. You, on the other hand, have run from it, and that is why you are this season’s trend and tomorrow’s ash on the wind.

0 thoughts on “Whitechapel – This is Exile”

  1. wouldnt you like to know. says:

    seriously, you have got to be kiddling. im sorry that your life revolved around older music like Morbid Angel and shit like that. but, put yourself in the present here. Whitechapel plus others are the new death metal. you are going to have to deal with it someway or another. get over the fact that this type of metal is taking over. more people are for as to those opposed. stop trying to fool yourself into something as trivial and stupid as this dumbass review. grow up bitch, its 2008!

  2. redgearhead says:

    Really? This is the new Death Metal? A bunch of boring, random misanthropy for the sake of sounding brootal and extreme? In that case, count me out dude. He’s right. There is nothing profound going on here because the band has nothing to say, other than maybe a few clever anecdotes in a Headbangers Ball interview. Everything about this band is purely asthetic.

  3. Jormungandr says:

    @"wouldn’t you like to know"

    The point is that the foundations of the core metal genres have each addressed some facet of failure of the human condition. Once addressed, those facets are outright attacked or otherwise converted into a solution. Death, as the name rightly implies, has addressed the societal fears surrounding fatalism and its impact upon self-obsession.

    The difference between a metal band and a metalcore band is the fetishism behind the message. Bands like Whitechapel revel in being "br00tal" or "kvlt", and they spout off plenty of macabre imagery. Death metal’s primary message was always a sort of nihilist one: Everyone dies, including you. Get over it. It’s not that bad. Quit thinking only about yourself, because you just aren’t that important. Any sort of real revelry in being grotesque (a la Cannibal Corpse and their ilk) is usually a sign of a sometimes-technically competent but truly uninspired band.

    This type of "metal" has been around for some time, and eventually, either the fans grow out of pre-adolescent mental frameworks along the lines of "hur hur, fire, kill, burning stuff is fun!", or they regress into their self-indulgent lifestyles and schlep out a living in a trailor park somewhere, drinking warm beer and living well under their potentials as functional members of a competent society.

    Ascetic or asthetic? Your choice. But don’t try to compare a flash-in-the-pan clone to the original. Calling an imposter by the master’s name does not make it the master’s replacement.

  4. i hope you fuckin die says:

    this is honestly the most ignorant retarded piece of shit excuse for a review ive ever read in my entire life. calling whitechapel metalcore? seriously? thats funny. its obvious you dont have a goddamn clue what your talking about. get your fuckin shit straight you naive prick there’s nothing worse than people like you. and if you think they have nothing to say look up the fuckin lyrics. if your wanna be ass thinks theres not a story to be told you should straight up kill yourself becuase theres no reason for people like you in this world. id bet my last dollar you didnt even listen to the full album before writing this. get your life sorted out your fuckin pathetic.

  5. your, or you're? says:

    This band IS metalcore. What other term would you apply? Death Metal? No.

  6. cool guy says:

    that first comment is exactly the kind of blurry social assessment you’d expect from a metalcore fan. "grow up bitch its 2008" HA! the sign of a true intellect, "get with the post-modern times lil bitch, here put on these clothes, here cut these holes in your earlobes and shove these big disks in there, here drink this energy drink that you dont know what the fucks in it, and remember bro never take off the mask or you wont look cool anymore. thats why we wear the mask, we wear the mask so we can fit in and look Cool, i cant stress COOL enough." actually its 2011 and from what i can tell this band is still popular. damn it.

  7. joe says:

    I fail to see how any of this tangent actually has anything to do with Whitechapel, all I see is a bunch of random butthurt intellectual masturbation

  8. Artemis says:

    Saw these guys at Summer Slaughter…unimpressed. I listened to the same boring breakdown riff for almost an hour. This is NOT death metal, it’s core…and core sucks ball.

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