Mark of the Blade sees Whitechapel take their brand of deathcore and modernise it offering more groove then has been heard in anything they’ve done before. Opener, The Void is a showcase of this new groove-driven metal. Crushingly heavy but with rhythm that allows for a much more cleaner sound, it’s not exactly an exciting start but does have a lovely beat to finish.
This is an aggressive album but doesn’t really take off until Elitist Ones, a vast improvement with a meaty hook and neck-straining beat. It’s got some really good lyrics that are spat out with ferocity ending with a strong guitar solo too. It’s one of the best songs on the album.
This is where things get interesting though, during the build to this release the band were saying that the album would have clean vocal singing & their fans reacted predictably. Bring Me Home is the first that showcases the cleaner style. Slower & more doom orientated with clean vocal singing mixed in with the death metal style that is the bands bread and butter. I admire the risk but it does little for me although it picks up nicely in pace near the end.
What Mark of the Blade often lacks are memorable hooks, moments that grab your attention & a few too many songs, while solid, just plod along. It’s not until Brotherhood that my ears picked up again. A song led by guitars with no vocals, it’s great slab of death metal. Very catchy with some impressive riffs and melody.
The rest of the album continues this upswing with Dwell of the Shadows, Venomous and Decennium ending it strongly. Considering the fuss made about the clean vocals they are surprisingly absent throughout most of the album. Instead we get a groove-led deathcore album that is solid throughout but often uninspiring.
Full Track List:
1. The Void
2. Mark of the Blade
3. Elitist Ones
4. Bring Me Home
6. A Killing Industry
9. Dwell in the Shadows
Whitechapel - Mark of the Blade (Metal Blade Records)