Whitechapel Hit the Mark on New Album
The American deathcore band’s frontman Phil Bozeman on turning to clean vocals and singing about happy things on their sixth album ‘Mark of the Blade’
On the title track of theirÂ sixth album Mark of theÂ Blade, Knoxville deathcoreÂ band Whitechapel’s vocalistÂ Phil Bozeman ”“ currently oneÂ of the genre’s most formidable voices ”“Â coughs audibly before breaking into beastÂ mode. Who’s he warning? Bozeman saysÂ over the phone from Vermont, whereÂ Whitechapel played as part of the DecadeÂ of the Blade tour, “One of the things thatÂ was mentioned was that it was kind of rawÂ and wasn’t overly produced. So we just decidedÂ to leave it in there.”
Mark of the Blade, out todayÂ viaÂ Metal Blade Records, still manages toÂ stomp its way through murkier, fittinglyÂ buzzsaw riffing as well as polished metalcoreÂ influences through its triple guitarÂ attack. In between the unsparing soundscapesÂ are a few curveballs, includingÂ Bozeman trying his hand at clean vocalsÂ on tracks such as the meditative “BringÂ Me Home” and the poignantÂ album closer “Decennium.”Â Bozeman likens it to wantingÂ less of the same things. HeÂ explains, probably in the mostÂ American way, “One of our biggestÂ things over here as far asÂ food are cheeseburgers. I loveÂ cheeseburgers but I don’t wantÂ to eat a cheeseburger every dayÂ for the rest of my life, y’know? I want to eatÂ something new, it’s the same thing withÂ music. I don’t want to just continuallyÂ write the same thing over and over again.”Â He adds that trying clean vocals was aÂ “foreign” experience, but counts these twoÂ songs as the highlights on the album.
So if you actually end up understandingÂ some of what Bozeman is [now] singingÂ about, that’s the other difference you’llÂ notice in the band’s style. Even for theirÂ death metal-oriented past that includedÂ gruesome lyrics on songs such as “HateÂ Creation” [off 2012’s Whitechapel] andÂ “The Saw is the Law” off 2014’s Our EndlessÂ War, Bozeman says Mark of the BladeÂ has more “positive lyrics”. He adds, “ThereÂ are some songs that have brutal lyrics, butÂ for the most part it has an uplifting andÂ positive side. They’re not like corny, cookieÂ cutter kind of stuff but it’s more of a positiveÂ feeling instead of just feeling hatredÂ all the time, because as humans, at the endÂ of the day we all just want to be happy.”
But don’t people listen to death metal [orÂ in Whitechapel’s case, a type of deathÂ metal mixed with hardcore breakdowns]Â for the horrific, graphic narratives? “FansÂ expect the brutality, they expect theÂ hatred, but when it comes to music, thereÂ are no limits. If [American death metalÂ pioneers] Cannibal Corpse wanted to doÂ an acoustic country album, they could ifÂ they wanted to, it’s all about just what youÂ want to create [”¦] If Justin Bieber wantedÂ to make a death metal album, he could.Â It would be very odd and unexpected, butÂ if the music is good and people enjoy it,Â what does it matter who did it?” AlthoughÂ they may have stated in the past that theyÂ do keep fans in mind when they writeÂ music, Bozeman clears the air to state thatÂ Whitechapel have always made music forÂ themselves first.
Ahead of the album release, WhitechapelÂ will already be on the road across the U.S.Â as part of traveling festival Vans WarpedÂ Tour. The gruelling 40-date festival featuresÂ over 75 bands ranging from punkÂ bands like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte toÂ metallers like Bullet For My Valentine andÂ Veil of Maya. Whitechapel were last part ofÂ the Warped Tour in 2010. Bozeman jokesÂ about what he’s looking forward to theÂ most, “It’s outdoors and during the summerÂ time, everybody is more alive.”
Later in the year, they head to San Bernardino,Â California to perform at the one-of-a-kind Ozzfest Meets Knotfest,Â curated by Ozzy OsbourneÂ and Slipknot. India, however, isÂ still not on the radar. BozemanÂ says they’ve never had an offerÂ come their way yet, but heardÂ praise from fellow deathcore bandÂ Suicide Silence, who performedÂ in Bengaluru in April last year,Â as part of festival series CultFest.Â Bozeman adds, “They said it was awesome.Â Places that we’ve never been is always goingÂ to be a better experience just because thoseÂ people don’t know what it’s like to see usÂ live. We hope it happens.”
StreamÂ Mark of the Blade in its entirety here.