“End Of Flesh.” “Festering Fiesta.” “Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation.” After a cursory once-over of Whitechapel’s albums and history, I have to admit being unsure as to how my evening was going to pan out. Track titles and lyrics that span the band’s three full-length releases since their inception in 2006 call to mind gory horror film scenes rather than anything aural.
But after watching openers For Today and Enter Shikari play enthusiastic, but somewhat droning sets (rife with fist pumping fans, dubstep breakdowns, and a smoking speaker being carried offstage) Whitechapel came to the stage and certainly set the room up with a change of pace. From the first song of their set to the very last, the Knoxville, Tennessee natives commanded attention from the audience with grinding metal riffs offset against chugging bass lines and heavy artillery drums that have helped in setting them apart from fellow bands who also play this kind of technical deathcore. With a total of six members, their stage show was engaging and well-received by an animated crowd.
Phil Bozeman—his dark silhouette balanced imposingly on the edge of the stage—delivered an impressive vocal performance, sounding much more distinct live than the albums attempt to portray.
Over a quick slice of pizza and a few minutes spent looking over the immense amount of show posters and fliers featured in the Roseland Theater’s downstairs seating area, Ben Savage (lead guitarist) shared some stories from the road, as well as his thoughts on the tour with me.
“It’s been cool to be on a tour with bands we’re not usually seen with. I think we’ve gained a lot of fans who might not have ever been exposed to us before this,” he said of their spot supporting headliners The Devil Wears Prada.
Supporting slot or not, Whitechapel seemed to completely win over any people in the crowd who weren’t so sure about them before. Dare I say it, they might have even stolen the show. And, I can say now, being of sound body and mind, that after seeing them play an impressive set (featuring songs spanning all three of their albums), I am now a member of whatever congregation subscribes to the church of Whitechapel.
Over the years, I’ve somehow ended up seeing The Devil Wears Prada upwards of four times, in a myriad of different venues, both supporting and headlining, and touring in support of their copious releases. This time, the metalcore outfit surprised me with what felt like a huge step up in both their live arrangements and overall aesthetic.
Boasting easily the most impressive stage layout I’ve ever seen—a three-tier riser setup, crowned by a large lit up version of their logo, TDWP had already captivated the crowd before even playing a note. What ensued after they emerged was an onslaught of heavy guitars and breakdowns leading way to perfect sing-along moments, making it clear that much of the crowd in attendance had been gearing up and looking forward to this very moment.
How vocalist Mike Hranica paces the stage can only be likened to a prowl. In fact, every single member of the band, even the drummer, Daniel Williams, (whose spot on stage was close to the front instead of hidden in the shadows at the back like usual) gave animated performances which were engaging to watch.
Without any question, this performance was the best I’ve seen of theirs to date. In a venue like the Roseland Theater, shows oftentimes sit on one far side of the spectrum or the other, but TDWP brought a stage presence and a setlist (featuring songs spanning all four LPs, as well as their ultra spooky Zombie-themed EP), that managed to reach all corners of the room with thundering bravado.
With the musical climate how it is these days, it’s easy for bands to fall by the wayside and continue making albums that fall closely in step with what they’ve done before. What the fine men in TDWP have done over the last six years is no small triumph—they’ve finely tuned their craft and made it something entirely their own.
Words by Jenna Fletcher