2014’s Our Endless War saw Whitechapel effectively combining their death metal/deathcore roots with their more further-developed modern metal approach from their previous release into an album that made the most out of both of these influences.
Mark of the Blade continues where Our Endless War left off, providing a large chunk of heavy, aggressive music with modern, groove and djent parts welded onto their thoroughly metal core. However, the band have also progressed and expanded their sound to include other influences here and there; it’s not enough to radically redefine their sound, but it certainly adds another dimension to things.
This could be small effects and noises, clean vocals, a thrash influence, acoustic guitars, electronics, atmospheric melodics; all of these show a band that’s willing to develop their wider sonic pallette. This is to be commended, especially as it’s all done in such a way that leaves their core heaviness and aggression intact.
I like the fact that although Whitechapel have little to prove at this stage, they’re playing with a hunger and vitality that seems refreshed. These tracks have an energy to them that’s apparent from the start.
The singer’s belligerent snarling growls are still intact, and, like the music, he too shows a willingness to experiment with his voice a bit more in places, (shouting, singing). Once again, like the musical additions, this does not detract from his core delivery, which is just as rhythmically satisfying and brutal as ever.
These songs are catchy and memorable in ways that have both instant appeal and a more lasting longevity. It’s more of an instant hit for me than Our Endless War proved to be, but also has more depth and content to it so that I can and will be listening to this for a long time to come.
Ever since Whitechapel shifted their sound on 2012’s self-titled album to a more modern and less death metal sound they have slowly been building to this. Mark of the Blade shows a band who have hit their stride with the sound they want to be playing, and they’re clearly re-energised and full of fury.
On Mark of the Blade Whitechapel show great progression without sacrificing their core intensity, and they have now matured into something quite special. I’d say they’re probably currently at the height of their powers, but who knows where they could go to from here?