In the increasingly wide open musical landscape of recent years, the challenge has been increasing when it comes to creating an album that transcends beyond time both musically and lyrically. Metal has not been the exception, since with each year that passes, it is more difficult for the general public to avoid sometimes thinking “Everything has already been done.”

Whitechapel in their most recent years of their career have not been alien to this belief in particular, specially because with their first 3 albums they became pillars of Deathcore, a subgenre in which instrumental and lyrical heaviness are pretty much the key factors to create and perform. However, they have shown that they can reach that supreme level of heaviness that the Deathcore fan always demands.

By releasing The Valley in 2019, Whitechapel, with their name already established in the Deathcore scene, decides to change the approach to their music in a move that was initially questioned but ultimately praised by the vast majority. The band at this point didn’t needed to prove their status in the scene, the main focus was maximizing expression and boy did they totally succeeded.

Often considered “An album with a life of its own,” The Valley is more than a musical work and a portrait of the darkest years of Phil Bozeman’s childhood, it is a window into our deepest emotions. This is where the true power of this album lies, the power to mold itself to our experiences and even our mood with songs that express various emotions that converge with each other. This was further enhanced 2 years later with the release of what would be their successor album, Kin. An album that was born mainly from the story told in The Valley.

Since the release of The Valley it has been inevitable to imagine what it would be like to experience these songs live. It didn’t take very long to hear already emblematic singles like “When A Demon Defiles A Witch”, “Brimstone” or “Black Bear”. Songs that are already established numbers in the band’s set lists. Still, we had to wait a bit longer to hear deeper cuts like “We Are One” or “The Other Side” live, songs that as the years went by we still hoped to be able to experience at a live show someday.

The idea of listening to The Valley in its entirety live was something that still seemed very far away, even though it was a recurring scenario for Whitechapel to play emblematic albums like This Is Exile in its entirety. Since at that time it was the 10th anniversary of the album that pretty much made them break through, so if we wanted that kind of treatment with The Valley we would have to sit and wait.

Fortunately, we didn’t had to wait a decade for it…

At the beginning of 2023 we were all waiting for the announcement of an eventual Whitechapel headlining tour, but when it was revealed that tour The Valley would be performed in its entirety, the magnitude was even greater. We could finally hear songs that waited years to be released live and we could see Phil Bozeman directly express the stories captured in his lyrics. Once again this great album found a way to generate expectation, reaching the definitive magnitude: Experiencing it live.

The chosen city for our date in The Valley would be New York, at the iconic sold out Gramercy Theatre on April 21 of 2023, a date that is already part of the memory of many of us. The anticipation of this tour and this show in particular could be felt with fans arriving early at the venue, even that guy who drove by in his car excitedly shouting “Whitefuckingchapel!” as he passed by the venue. Something premonitory of the mood that would be experienced from the start of the show.

Upon entering the venue we did not have to wait for the emotions to be ignited by the elite opening bands that we would have. Quickly the versatile Entheos led by Chaney Crabb and Navene Koperweis began a great Metal evening with their incredible instrumental display and their “Jazzpits”, then following up with Signs Of The Swarm and their brutal performance in which their fierce leader David Simonich displaying his demonic voices. And finally the fast and fun Archspire who kept the revolutions at full speed.

After finishing the performances of these 3 great bands, the excitement increased every second as the production team prepared the stage. Even after having seen Whitechapel live on previous occasions, it was impossible to escape from that level of expectation minutes before their show. However, this time it was perceived differently, like a kind of premonition that we would experience something like never before.

A key moment was when the lights on the rest of the stage shined on, revealing the curtain with the already iconic cover of The Valley, as if the great eye had been watching us all this time while the other bands were playing, representing the opening the path to the valley and the entrance of the band we all came to see: Whitechapel.  

Finally with the first notes of “When A Demon Defiles A Witch” they appear, Whitechapel announces their arrival on stage. Once the guitars, the drums and the voice of Phil Bozeman everyone in attendance went into a frenzy with the rhythm of the frenetic verses of this explosive song.

In the middle of this song, Phil himself welcomes us to The Valley, proceeding to perform a section with clean vocals in a very versatile way, giving way to Ben Savage’s great solo and coming back again to the emotional chorus that is chanted with fervor by everyone at the Gramercy Theatre.

Diving into the history of The Valley, we continue with the fierce “Forgiveness Is Weakness” where Phil Bozeman from the first “He is finally dead!” begins to distill the most visceral hatred imaginable, in verses so sharp that they cut like knives hidden in the deepest corner of his memory and come out to attack the demon of his past.

The dagger digs even deeper on “Brimstone,” where Phil continues to radiate the hatred seen in the previous song. This time spitting fire and sulfur with powerful guttural vocals, supported by the crushing riffs of the guitar trio composed of Ben Savage, Alex Wade and Zach Householder. Also highlighting the solid column of sound created by Gabe Crisp on bass, making this song feel like the beating of a heart possessed by fury.

In all the occasions we have been able to see Whitechapel live, there has been no sensation that can compare to experiencing “Hickory Creek” live. When the first chord of the song began, it was like feeling a block of ice sliding through your spine, changing completely the atmosphere in the room that was euphoric just minutes earlier.

“Hickory Creek” is a song that can be described as “The heart of The Valley”, it is here where Phil Bozeman gets rid of his Metal armor and exposes his most emotional side, captured in a beautiful performance with clean vocals that hit everyone in attendance right on their feelings, some even not being able to hold back their tears.

Noticing the emotional atmosphere after “Hickory Creek”, once again Phil Bozeman decides to change the atmosphere of the place by saying “There is no time to be sad!”, giving way to “Black Bear”, one of the staple songs of this album. Where once again the crowd got ignited to restart the action jumping around or getting into the pit.

The revolutions were about to increase even more with one of the most anticipated songs of the night: the fast paced “We Are One”, a thrashing song that unleashed hell in the place with fast mosh pits that were commanded by the powerful blast-beats from Brandon Zackey on drums.

Without a doubt “We Are One” is the song that truly shows how Brandon Zackey has earned his wings as the chosen for Whitechapel’s drummer position, in a performance where he becomes a one-man army and displays his great technical versatility. Something that has already been recognized from his work with Enterprise Earth, but now with Whitechapel it establishes him even more as one of the most outstanding drummers in Metal today.

We continue with “The Other Side”, another special song that made its debut on this The Valley tour. This song stands out above all the others for being a cry of hope in the midst of hatred and pain, having key moments such as the beautiful guitar solo performed by Ben Savage, without a doubt one of the most emblematic solos of his career.

We then continue with the chilling performance of “Third Depth”, where Phil Bozeman successfully presents a facet that conveys vulnerability and desperation in his clean vocal verses and then gains strength in the dark chorus once again.

“Lovelace” is another song that made its live debut with this current tour and although it hasn’t had as much impact as other songs on The Valley, it works too well when you listen to the album in its entirety. This concert was no exception, since live it is further enhanced by the great way in which Phil Bozeman conveys the desperation that this song expresses.

Our journey through the valley comes to an end with “Doom Woods.” An emotionally powerful song loaded with a dark and depressive atmosphere. Phil Bozeman’s performance on this song was simply majestic, highlighting a moment when before the first chorus he said “The devil is real, I’ve seen him. Now let’s take a walk with him”, and then continuing with an impressive performance where his demonic staging was unique and fitting with the gloomy atmosphere of this song, closing with “The devil is alive” in the final verse.

With this song the album ends, but much more still awaited us, because with “I Will Find You” Whitechapel reminds us that there is life beyond The Valley. With this being Kin’s opening song, it was very appropriate to include it, because it made a very beautiful contrast with the opening verse “The devil is dead!” and the final verse of “Doom Woods” that closed The Valley prior to this song..

Then, amidst chants of “Whitechapel! Whitechapel!” from everyone in attendance, it was time to enter the final stretch of this unforgettable concert, with Phil calling out all Whitechapel old school fans for the next three songs. Suddenly introducing us to the first one of them: “Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation”.

From this point on, we would see something that could easily be comparable to a demon being unchained from the very depths of hell. Phil Bozeman cranks the brutality up to 11 and delivers guttural vocals as crushing as his younger days around The Somatic Defilement era, even taking the time in between the song to gesture “Lower? Ok, you got it” , to close with the final breakdown of the song, which was like being in front of a volcano exploding and emanating magma everywhere, continuing with a masterful transition towards “Possession”, another great classic Whitechapel song. Giving a preview of what will be the band’s next album, as it has been described as “The heaviest thing they have ever recorded” and a true return to the brutal sound that made them Deathcore legends.

Before the concert we were able to chat with Phil Bozeman and the level of contrast that exists around his persona never ceases to amaze. Off stage he is someone extremely chill and relaxed, but when he steps on stage you are not looking at a man anymore, you’re looking at a true force of nature. Certainly there are fewer and fewer adjectives among all those that have been used to describe his vocal ability; He has been called a monster, a beast, a legend, a demon and even a god. But without a doubt after this concert, we can affirm that we are facing the best frontman in modern Metal today.

To finish this encore and this unforgettable concert, Whitechapel brings us one of their greatest classics: “This Is Exile”. Where for the last time, the furious New York crowd gave their all in the mosh pits and crowd surfing with immense energy and passion. After all, this was the scene that saw the birth of Slam.

With a final and loud “This world is ours!” shouted by everyone present, this great concert ends that will remain in the memory of all of us who were fortunate enough to attend and will relive this performance every time we press play to listen to The Valley.

Fortunately we will also have the opportunity to remember this great show in a great way with Live in The Valley, Whitechapel’s next live album recorded in their native Knoxville, where the band performed great songs from The Valley, Kin and other classics, from That way we can also remember our own experience and live it again and again in our minds.

Very few bands today are able to redefine the term “Heaviness” in Metal, but Whitechapel with The Valley achieved this with flying colors by proving that it is possible to add deep and authentic human emotions in Metal music, more specifically in Deathcore. Another great achievement in Whitechapel history that continues to be written today and in the years to come.