Coming just in time at the end of 2017, Whitechapel hopped on the bandwagon and embarked on their very own 10 year anniversary tour to celebrate their debut album, The Somatic Defilement. Though such anniversary tours have been en vogue for a few years now, 2017 seems to have had an abundance of them, especially in the metal scene, where so many of the cream of the crop made their debut around the same time in 2006 and 2007.
Joined by fellow deathcore progeny Carnifex, whose debut Dead in My Arms came out in 2007 as well, Whitechapel stormed through Come and Take It Live in Austin, Texas on December 13th in a decidedly mixed affair, which simultaneously satisfied and let down new and old fans alike. However, after a few local opening sets and a typically weak live showing by tech death band Rings of Saturn, Carnifex took the stage to make sure everyone left happy no matter what happened during Whitechapel’s set.
Carnifex has long been an ace death metal band in the live setting, and even as their musical output has grown to become more traditional and less “core,” they inspire pits like one would not believe. Classics like “Drown Me in Blood” and Dead in My Arms hit “Lie to My Face” pummeled fans into oblivion, while set closer “Hell Chose Me” was a singalong for the ages, in as much as any metal song with screamed and growled vocals can inspire a singalong.
Such an explosive set would be hard to top, and unfortunately Whitechapel limped out of the gate with a smattering of newer material, which has seen mixed reception from their dedicated yet weary fanbase but increasingly better album sales. The trend-hopping of recent Whitechapel material became even more abundant as the band shifted between styles of metal depending on which album they were drawing from. Our Endless War’s title track, for instance, is a straight hardcore track in the vein of other death metal/hardcore blending bands like Stray from the Path, which was popular when it was released in 2014. That contrasted heavily with the nu metal influences of Mark of the Blade tracks like “Elitist Ones.”
All sins would be forgiven, however, when Whitechapel shifted gears and began The Somatic Defilement. Newer fans, completely unfamiliar with the material that made the band famous, began to chant “one more song,” not realizing a whole other set was coming as the opening sound clip of “Necrotizing” played over the PA. An immediate burst of life into an otherwise mediocre set, the following classics from Whitechapel’s stellar debut reminded everyone just how potent and incredible this band was when they first hit the scene.
One could quibble that Whitechapel did not actually perform The Somatic Defilement in its entirety. “Alone in the Morgue,” “Festering Fiesta,” and album closer “Articulo Mortis” were left off the setlist. Though it would have been nice to hear the entire album, closing the set with This is Exile songs “Possession” and “This is Exile” made up for it.
Though Whitechapel may never see such heights again, playing so much of their earlier material made it clear why so many still go out of their way to see Whitechapel perform. With a perfect mix of slamming riffage and crushing breakdowns, Whitechapel was once one of the premiere metal bands in the nation, and they can still bring it when they decide to do so.