“The theme of ‘Mark of the Blade‘ is a celebration of Whitechapel being together for ten years and the fans that support us no matter what,” states vocalist Phil Bozeman, and after just one exposure to the record’s 11 riveting tracks, a more fitting tribute is unimaginable. Pushing their sound forward with each successive release, the sextet have never allowed anyone outside of their ranks to dictate or influence the music they write. Mark of the Blade sees them remain true to their roots while making their most dramatic progression to date, the emphasis falling more on groove than blastbeat-driven death metal violence, as well as venturing into previously unexplored territory, both sonically and lyrically. “It’s the most dynamic record we’ve done, in the sense that one song can be very aggressive while the next one will be softer and sentimental,” guitarist Alex Wade asserts. “I think it’s great that we have opened up our sound to just write and play whatever we think sounds good. If it’s soft and has clean singing who cares as long as it’s a good song? I would rather do that than be closed-minded and stick to only the ‘extreme’ side of metal.“
“I honestly don’t think that we ever have to prove anything to anyone, we do this because we enjoy it, and if people want to listen and support us, that’s just a bonus,” says Bozeman. “With this record we knew what we didn’t want to do. We wanted to get away from the faster stuff, because we’re burned out on that 260bpm blastbeat thing. We’ve done that. Ultimately none of us agree with genre pigeon-holing, and we’re not afraid to write what we want to write, no matter what anyone else thinks.” While the band had clear ideas for elements they wanted to explore, they did not allow this to dictate the record, which developed more naturally, focusing on what was best for the individual songs, refusing to accept anything less than the absolute best they could possibly do. “Nothing was set in concrete when we started writing, and we did not force anything,” Wade states. “For example, the idea of including some clean singing was brought up before any songs were written, but it was never really like ‘okay, we’re doing this’ until the songs that we planned to have that on were complete and Phil could say ‘so I’m clean singing on these, right?’. At that moment it felt exciting that we were exploring musical territory that we hadn’t before, and that we were confident in doing so.” In realizing the album, the band – rounded out by guitarists Ben Savage and Zach Householder, bassist Gabe Crisp and drummer Ben Harclerode – reunited with producer Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse).
With Mark of the Blade under their collective belt, the band is truly stepping into a new and exciting phase of their career. Having redefined who they are and what they are capable of, their place in the modern metal landscape has only solidified – and while they remain typically confident they are equally humble. “This record plainly states ‘this is who we are’,” Wade asserts. “We know we have fans that depend on us just as we depend on them, and this record displays that deep connection. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.”