WHITECHAPEL return with album number seven, The Valley (out now, Metal Blade Records). A lot has been written on this, before and since the record has come out. Vocalist Phil Bozeman puts it like this: “It’s all about me as a child, and some of it is me looking back on that time from the perspective of now,” he explains. “Also, it’s my interpretation of my mom’s struggles and her different personalities. She had a journal that contained very disturbing and sometimes evil writings, and some of her quotes and a lot of that journal is in the lyrics.” Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s take a minute to focus on the simple fact that this fucking album DESTROYS from first note to last. Those of you who have picked it up already know this.
Starting with “When a Demon Defiles a Witch”, then moving into “Forgiveness Is Weakness” we are in territory never before explored by these boys, but musically it’s the WHITECHAPEL we all know and love. The three guitarists (Ben Savage – lead guitar, Alex Wade – rhythm guitar, and Zach Householder – third guitar) weave a sonic tapestry that produces so many sounds and evokes so many feelings to go along with Bozeman’s pointed vocal delivery, and bassist Gabe Crisp is the glue holding it all together. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that former ANIMALS AS LEADERS drummer Navene Koperweis is pounding the skins on this disc. Combining his technical wizardry with some seriously hard hits, he’s the perfect man for the job here.
One of the record’s best tunes for sure is “Hickory Creek,” a slower number that showcases more of Bozeman’s clean vocals and goes straight for the heart. The guitar leads are insane, and complement each other perfectly; the whole thing just works on so many levels. “Black Bear” was another favorite for me right from jump. I love the tribalesque feel of the drums and the band just hammering down on you. Oh, speaking of drums, Koperweis goes totally ballistic on “We Are One”, which obviously catapulted it right into Standout-ville!! That chorus is also siiiiick, Cuzzi-Wuzzi!!
Buzzsaw riffs are the order of the day for “The other Side” as the band gores you like a charging bull, while “Third Depth” goes the more serene route for a bit before getting into the thicker brush, then it all comes back around. A seriously great song on an album full of them. Okay, let’s talk about “Lovelace”, huh? Holy fuck, this goddamn thing jams like a motherfucker!! There are two types of WHITECHAPEL fans in this world: those who love this song, and those who are WRONG. PERIOD. END OF STORY. I mean, come on, can you seriously not imagine how fucking crazy the circle pits will be to this one if they play it live?!?
Closing the record is “Doom Woods.” You guys know how much I love a closer done right, and this one is not only right, it is the kind of tune that will stay with you long after the last notes have rung out. Listen, at the end of the day The Valley is without a doubt one of THE best albums WHITECHAPEL have ever recorded. And I also went batshit over Our Endless War and Mark of the Blade, two albums I still fucking love!! If you were already a fan, you’ll go nuts. And if you’re new to the band you’ll go even more nuts. Every song is a winner, and the ebb and flow of the tracks really contribute to the overall vibe of the whole thing. I can’t recommend this one enough, people. So go get it if you haven’t already!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM