Only in the Internet age could bands so far away sound so alike. Compare All Shall Perish's (Bay Area) first album with Alienacja (Poland), Despised Icon (Montreal), and Whitechapel (Knoxville, TN), and you won't hear much difference. They're all textbook "deathcore," fusing death metal and hardcore punk. Death growls, pig squeal "brees," piledriver breakdowns, and occasional Gothenburg death metal are all de rigueur, as well as the ubiquitous Job for a Cowboy font. Did someone call a meeting and decide this was Hot Topic's priority for 2007?
It's not a good sign when a metal record's most unique moment comes from keyboards (the title track's epic outro). Otherwise, everything here came from somewhere else. The half-speed intro to "Devirgination Studies" is pure Dying Fetus. The Swedish melodies in "Fairy Fay" came from The Black Dahlia Murder (who took them from, uh, Sweden). Those midrange yells alternating with low death growls? Leo Miller from Animosity got there first. In fact, Whitechapel sound a lot like Animosity. Maybe when Metal Blade signed Whitechapel recently, they forgot they already had Animosity on their roster.
This is all unfortunate, as the execution here is excellent. On only their debut, Whitechapel demonstrate impressive instrumental proficiency. They shift gears smoothly, turning slowly-galloping riffs into crushing breakdowns, as in "Fairy Fay" and "Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation." A brief bit of thrash even surfaces in the title track. This band knows what it's doing. Sadly, what it's doing is being other bands.