Whitechapel – This Is Exile
Metal Blade Records (7/8/08)
“Never underestimate immortality.”
As much as you may want to shoehorn Whitechapel into the death metal genre, there’s just too much going on with the band’s sound to do so without regret.
On the surface, the band just tears through the 11 tracks on This Is Exile with abandon, and shoves in enough plodding riffs and double-bass drumming to fill a (sizable) graveyard. However, Phil Bozeman varies up his vocal delivery to such an extent—from growls to grunts to this really interesting stutter-chant (check out the closing moments of “Possession” and then again on “To All That Are Dead”) or straight metal howls—and the band fully takes advantage of its triple-guitar attack to flesh out riffs (see “To All That Are Dead” again) and solos that, in the end, this music just has too many layers to be considered simply death metal.
It doesn’t hurt to have the almost-legendary Zeuss (who’s had a hand in albums by Shadows Fall, Hatebreed, Terror, 100 Demons, Kingdom of Sorrow, Agnostic Front and God Forbid, to name a few) on-hand to produce the album, which is probably why every time that the band starts to slide into a death-metal groove, a healthy dose of metal and hardcore seems to be infused in the songs.
Every track on this album just seethes evil, as the metal is ratcheted up to crushing degrees, and the vocals explode through each song like a cluster bomb. There isn’t a weak track on here. Even when they go for straight-ahead metal (on the instrumentals “Death Becomes Him” and “Of Legions”), it’s a welcome reprieve from the onslaught and doesn’t even remotely sound like filler. (Also of note: for some reason the band seems to get better as the album progresses, so the later tracks sound a little stronger.)
This is Exile is a must-have for any fan of a slightly more aggressive form of metal. Whitechapel hits each track perfectly. The only weak point would have to be most extreme, unintelligible vocals on the album, but they’re never used exclusively and without them, everything would sound a little less evil. And where’s the fun in that?