1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 368

The Valley, by Whitechapel
Suggested by Craig Jones

This review will concentrate on one song.

It’s the first song on the album. And honestly, it’s the only song worth a hill of beans. Why is it receiving such special treatment? Because one line made me laugh so hard that it eclipsed everything in my world for at least an hour.  Seriously, I needed a lie down afterwards.

Let’s get the introductions out of the way first…

Whitechapel are an American Deathcore band from Knoxville, Tennessee, that have existed for fifteen years and birthed seven studio albums. The Valley is their latest, released in 2019 to widespread metallic acclaim. That’s right, folks… if the word Deathcore didn’t tip you off, Whitechapel are metal through and through.

The first song on The Valley is called When A Demon Defiles A Witch. Honestly, that’s enough to crease me over. Just look at those words. Repeat them, softly. Swill them around your mouth, like a fine wine.

When A Demon.

Defiles.

A Witch.

Fire it up, on your streaming service. Play along, for five minutes. Hell, not even that, because the gold arrives halfway through.

It starts with a very pleasant picked guitar, almost twenty sublime seconds, before the grinding guitar kicks in. All standard metal fare… then the drums hit.

My god, this drummer can go. Brutal, expert, impressive, exhausting.

Then? The growl. Or growls. I’d say standard, stifle a yawn, move on, but they’re a little more nuanced. If you dig deep, especially in the chorus, you’ll pick up the subtle layering of clean vocal harmony underpinning the growl. It’s nice to see some thought and musicality applied, even if it’s obliterated by both the growl and those ludicrous drums.

Verse becomes chorus, building, swelling. It’s growl metal, nothing to see here. Then, two minutes in? We bring it right back, into a slow guitar section, with modulous clock-tower bass and brushed hi-hat. One tiny, trilled snare roll into a gentle drum-line, and the singer, in a clean and tremulous voice, warbles the line that brought me low…

“What has the world come toooo, when a demon defiles a wiiiiitch?”

Stick a fork in me, I am done.

That line is going straight into my lexicon of sarcastic responses. I’ll wheel it out whenever anyone bemoans, I dunno, the state of the government’s Covid response, or the latest outrageous celebrity scandal.

“Have you heard?” someone will say, eyes blazing. “Mick Hucknall has been convicted of gross indecency! He got his knob out in a Rotherham branch of Greggs. Stuck it in a donut and shouted ‘MONEY’S TOO TIGHT TO MENTION’ at the cashier.”

I’ll shake my head, and reply…

“What has the world come to? When a demon defiles a witch?”

And I’ll laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

The Valley gets 4/10. It’s growly nonsense, metal with a prog feel, with an incredible drummer and some thought behind the composition. Hickory Creek is likely the best song, as its restrained and free of growl. But there’s only one standout song…

“What has the world come toooo, when a demon defiles a wiiiiitch?”

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