Knoxville, Tennessee natives Whitechapel, released their 8th studio album on October 29th, 2021. Kin is the next evolution of Whitechapel’s sound, which is very different from the rest of their discography. As mentioned in my album preview of Kin, this is a sequel to their 2019 release, The Valley. Although their 2019 release created a new sound for the band, Kin is even more dynamic and diverse. It continues the discussion being had in which Phil Bozeman (vocalist) speaks on the trauma of losing both of his parents at a young age. But in Kin, Bozeman speaks from a “what if” perspective. It is about what he could’ve become if he were to choose the dark path. This persona is what Bozeman describes as his alter-ego – his kin.
Kin is a fictional take on a non-fictional story. The front of the cover represents Bozeman and the evil side of him. If you flip the album upside down, there is a silhouette of the devil, which represents his step-dad. In my Heavy Breakdown of The Valley, I discuss the trauma Bozeman endured with his step-dad. At the bottom of the cover, you can see the valley, which is a representation of their 2019 release.
The first song on the album, “I Will Find You” starts from the last song on The Valley, “Doom Woods.” It explains that Bozeman’s alter-ego has followed him out of the valley and is trying to take him back. His alter-ego has created a reality, or consciousness, of what his evil self’s world would look like. In the story, eventually, his alter-ego kills his step-dad and sacrifices him to bring back his parents. The eye on the album cover of The Valley is an ancient god that represents evil; that to which the sacrifice is given.
The album speaks of the story of Bozeman fighting himself in his head and this can be heard within the lyrics throughout the entire album. By reading the lyrics for each song, it appears that each verse is Bozeman having a conversation with his darker half and battling the urge to turn to evil. His alter-ego wants to bring him back home, where he can live with his parents. He won’t relive his childhood, but he will be united with the ones he misses. Soon, Bozeman speaks on that if he goes back, his parents will just be a shell of who they used to be. This will be worse than not having them there at all.
Although there are songs on Kin that still have that deathcore sound, for the most part, this album contains clean vocals and a more atmospheric sound. Whitechapel wanted their songs to “breathe and have life,” therefore, they combined elements of hard rock, nu-metal, and also deathcore. I think this combination really emphasizes and compliments the emotional territory from which the album is speaking. There is a little something for everyone on this album!
Some fans and critics may not take a liking to Kin because it’s not necessarily a deathcore album. But Whitechapel has already left their mark on the deathcore scene and has proved that they can bring the brutality. I mean… have you listened to their first album, The Somatic Defilement? (Most) bands must evolve to survive, and I think Whitechapel wants to branch away from the category of deathcore; they don’t want to be confined to a box. If you want to listen to slamming deathcore, there are plenty of bands to fit that need. You can listen to them in The Saw’s Butcher Shop! Whitechapel is turning a page, expanding the genre of metal as a whole, and I think they executed it perfectly. They are conducting a lateral evolution; they are trying something new – moving in an uncharted direction – and becoming something new. I love it!
Throughout the album, you can hear the maturity of their sound. The musical components show how talented these musicians really are. The use of acoustic guitars intersecting with power chords and crushing riffs, layered with harmonious and melodic tempos and tight, winding leads are very impressive. Don’t even get me started on Bozeman’s vocals. I love his growls and screams but his clean singing is equally as good. His singing reminds me of Corey Taylor (Slipknot). Whitechapel does a fantastic job at being fluent and versatile within each song. Although we are used to Whitechapel carrying darkness within their musical instruments, on Kin, the lyrics contain the darkness.
The title track is the last song on Kin and I think it ends the album perfectly. Bozeman is reminiscing about when him and his darker half used to be inseparable, and how it was comforting. But in order to move on, Bozeman has to let him go. The final verses really hit this theme on the head by stating, “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.” His alter-ego responds with “I didn’t mean to hold you back from moving on. I understand that we can’t keep going on like this. Can I just have one last moment to say goodbye? I need to feel them against me one last time.” Then the song ends with the verse, “it’s time for both of us to let this go.” Which I think closes this chapter very well.
Overall, I really enjoyed this album. I love concept albums – those that have a story behind them – and ones that speak on real and raw emotions. I think this album hits home to a lot of listeners because everyone has battled with themselves, mentally and/or otherwise. Fighting the urge to go to the dark side and dwelling in those painful emotions is a theme that listeners can see in their own lives and empathize with Bozeman. This is an album that gives us a sense that we are not alone. Even if we cannot relate to other’s personal experiences, we can relate with the emotions and intrusive thoughts that are paired along with it.
Favorite songs: Bloodsoaked Symphony, The Ones That Made Us, To the Wolves, and Orphan.
Rating: 10/10 – The lyrical content, the story within the album, and how it flows with their previous release really impressed me. One of my favorite albums of 2021. I think this is their best album yet!