When the COVID-19 pandemic reached America in late 2019, it clearly did a lot of bad things to this nation on so many levels. At the same time, it apparently did some good, too. The mixed blessing of the pandemic is that it led to so many musical acts spending their forced downtime making new music. This has been pointed out multiple times this year by this critic. Now Friday, another name can be added to the list of acts that crafted new material during the pandemic in the form of Whitechapel. The band is scheduled to release its new album, Kin, which was crafted in 2020 – during the pandemic’s height – Friday through Metal Blade Records. Coming more than a year after the release of its then latest album, The Valley, the 11-song record is a solid follow-up to that presentation. That is due in part to its lyrical content, which will be examined shortly. The musical content that accompanies the album’s lyrical presentation builds on the noted content to make the album even more engaging and entertaining. It will be discussed a little later. The production that went into Kin rounds out the album’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is key in its own right to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Kin a powerful new offering from Whitechapel that deserves its own spot among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Whitechapel’s forthcoming album, Kin, is a powerful new offering from the band that its established audiences will enjoy just as much as any metal purist. That is due in large part to its lyrical content. The lyrical side of this record is important to note because of the approach taken to the songs in whole. Front man Phil Bozeman noted in an interview promoting Kin, the record is essentially a semi-concept record of sorts. This is proven as he stated, “Early in the writing, there was some discussion of the album being like The Valley Part II, not literally called that, but in how the songs sound and flow through it. It’s very much a storytelling type record like The Valley was…lyrically, the idea of continuing from the story of The Valley was always the goal.” He added that the song’s tell a specific story, noting, “It’s a fictional representation of a non-fictional story…This is all about what I could have been had I decided to take the dark road.” From there Bozeman expanded on the discussion by explaining how the album’s first three songs play into the overall “story.” Being a semi-conceptual record in its approach is in itself reason enough for audiences to hear Kin. In listening closely, audiences can understand the concept of Bozeman’s “other self” and how it plays into the bigger story. The whole will completely immerse audiences and in turn, keep them completely engaged and entertained. It is reason enough in itself for audiences to hear the record and certainly not the only reason. The musical arrangements that accompany the album’s rich lyrical content plays its own important part to the whole of the album’s presentation.
The musical arrangements that are featured in Kin are of note because they continue to show the ongoing growth and development of the band’s members. Where Valley showed change in the band with more clean vocals and more subtle arrangements, this record furthers that display, right from the album’s outset. ‘I Will Find You’ opens with a controlled country/western style guitar line. That intro so smoothly transitions into the band’s more familiar death metal approach and sound that is just as heavy and intense as ever, complete with Bozeman’s equally intense screams. From there, the arrangement even moves into some subtle territory a la in The Valley before gradually transitioning back into the song’s heavier side in its final section for a complete ABC format here. The final moments in this song throw back to the great guitar solos of the late 80s and early-mid 90s. The whole is such a unique presentation that again shows that noted growth and development.
In another case, such as in ‘To The Wolves,’ there is a breakdown early in the arrangement that is a full-on thrash style performance a la vintage Anthrax. That alongside the band’s – again – more familiar death metal approach makes the song in whole unique in its own right from its counterparts in the album. It is another way in which the album’s musical side proves just as engaging and entertaining as its lyrical side.
In yet another case – that of the album’s title track/closer – the song opens in such a deep, contemplative fashion. What is really interesting here is that the quality of Bozeman’s vocals and their delivery lends itself to comparison to that of Slipknot/Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor in his more subdued performances. The subtleties in the arrangement’s instrumentation build even more on that comparison, too. As the arrangement builds into its second half, even that is controlled, even in its heaviness. It is so much unlike the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s works, and more proof that despite Bozeman’s attestations, is proof that there are radio ready songs in this record.
In reference to that statement, Bozeman is saying in an interview about the album’s marketability, “It’s still very much a metal album. I don’t think you would hear any of the songs on mainstream radio, but there are elements of the record that have more of a rock and open vibe.” He was right in making light of the rock and open vibe of many songs, such as the record’s title track. At the same time, he is selling the album and band short in saying that he did not think any of the album’s songs would make their way to mainstream rock radio. There are plenty of songs in this record that are radio ready, including the noted title track and others. That wide availability of the radio ready songs is tied directly into the noted growth and development from the band members individually and collectively that is exhibited throughout the album. Keeping all of this in mind, the album’s musical content proves that it plays a part just as important to the album as its lyrical counterpart.
At this point, it should be clear that the musical and lyrical content featured in Kin does plenty to make the album engaging and entertaining. That collective content is just one part of what makes Kin successful. The record’s production brings everything together and rounds out the record’s presentation. The production fully ensures the noted growth is expertly exhibited throughout the album’s 47-minute run time. The more subtle moments are well-balanced with the more intense moments. The powerful, familiar death metal influences compliment the more subdued, Tool-esque moments. Even other new approaches that the band took this time are well-balanced with more familiar influences, too. The whole is impressive from start to end with not one part overpowering the others or countering the others too much. It all works that well together. The end result is an aesthetic from the album that is just as powerful as the album’s content. When that content is considered along with the production, the whole makes Kin unquestionably one of the most powerful of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Whitechapel’s new, forthcoming album, Kin, is a strong offering from the band. Due out Friday through Metal Blade Records, the album offers audiences much to appreciate, not the least of which is its lyrical content. The album’s lyrical content is important because for all intents and purposes, it makes Kin a semi-conceptual album as well as a sequel of sorts to The Valley. The story of sorts that it presents is moving. The musical arrangements that accompany the album’s lyrical content is also of note because it shows a continued growth and development from the band’s members individually and collectively. The album’s production rounds out the most important of its elements. That is because it brings the arrangements together and ensures that the noted growth and development is exhibited clearly. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a work that Whitechapel’s established audiences will welcome just as much as any hard rock and metal purist.
Kin is scheduled for release Friday through Metal Blade Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Whitechapel’s latest news at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.