Whitechapel – Kin [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

“You’re just a boy with his mother’s eyes, and carries the weight of his father’s heart.”1 We didn’t expect a line like this out of Whitechapel. A result of and in many ways a propagator of the shock novelty of deathcore’s often violent lyrical content, the Nashville heavyweights’ moniker reflected their ripping in several albums of gore, blasphemy, and anti-establishment before the landmark 2019 release The Valley. When vocalist Phil Bozeman discusses the inclusion of cleans, he didn’t focus on the merits of creative expression or broadening horizons; instead, he cited simply his admiration for his mother’s voice. As such, The Valley, for all its musical impressiveness, is more a lyrical triumph: a nuanced and touching reflection on a troubled childhood. Kin triumphs further.

Kin, as its name perhaps suggests, is a distillation of the themes expressed in The Valley: family. Bozeman laments his family’s disintegration and his own loss of innocence throughout, represented through a breed of deathcore even more mature than its predecessor. The heavy hits heavier, the bleeding heart hemorrhages thicker, and the songwriting accomplishes a storytelling flow to relate it all. While The Valley featured Whitechapel dwelling in its environs, a dark wood (“Black Bear”) or a musty basement in an uncertain household (“Third Depth”), Kin feels like reminiscence. It no longer feels that Bozeman lives in the misery of his childhood but rather is looking at it from the rearview mirror. The conclusions he reaches in the pit of his despair feel like a place, a palpable suffering that saturates every roar and croon.

And while not the most graceful reflection, that’s rather the point. When lines like “My pain will never cease until you both come back to me” (“A Bloodsoaked Symphony”) and “Lord, forgive this troubled man; he comes for what he lost and he’ll take every life until he’s found” (“To the Wolves”) hit with even harder chugs and riffs, it hits with both the pain of his experience with the agony reflected in its excess. Compared to its predecessor, Kin offers a pendulum swinging between its mammoth heaviness and melodic vulnerability. Best utilized in tracks like the southern rock-inflected title track, the one-two punch of instrumental “Without You” and chug-happy “Without Us,” or the prog leanings of “Lost Boy,” the heaviness is not absent, which is what’s most stunning about Whitechapel’s direction. While other groups lean into the dad-rock aesthetic, the bouncy riffs that have pervaded seven albums worth of material are more than present and even better in Kin.

A fitting conclusion to the raw and rough-around-the-edges The Valley, Kin continues this direction while enhancing nearly every facet. Captained by arguably the best vocalist in the scene and featuring a crew of unique instrumentals that never alienate their earliest fans, Whitechapel concludes this heart-wrenching chapter with grace and honesty. It feels like acceptance and forgiveness without forgetting its toll. The title track’s closing line resonates: “And I know you want us to be together, I know it’s hard to accept forever. Our delusion is the easy way out, but it’s time for both of us to let this go.”

Tracks to Reconcile Childhood Traumas to: “I Will Find You,” “To the Wolves,” “Kin”

Show 1 footnote

  1. “I Will Find You”
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