Up For The Challenge: Zach Householder of Whitechapel

Whitechapel album cover



Over the past eight years, the six members of Whitechapel have been on a tear, pushing the boundaries of extreme music and drawing new fans along the way. Their time spent touring has helped them build quite an extensive following and winning over legions of fans everywhere they play.


Their latest release, Our Endless War (Metal Blade), was eagerly awaited by their fans and the metal scene in general. The result was a first week charting in the Top 10 US Charts their first week of release, a rarity in recent times and especially in the metal world.


We’ve always been pigeonholed into deathcore. Whatever. If you like to pigeonhole bands that’s cool. Deathcore has such restrictive boundaries and we said fuck it. We just want to write whatever we want – just a good collaborative album without having to worry about what people expect us to write. Fuck that. We write what the fans who have grown with us and are singing with us. We’re not writing for any one person,” explained guitarist Zach Householder, talking about their the outcome of the album.


He explained the band’s approach upon Our Endless War, once they began the writing process. “The writing process is pretty streamlined. This is the fifth album and we had two work stations set up at Alex’s [Wade, guitarist] house. We had a lot of material to begin with because we always recorded demos and passed it around through email. When it came time to writing, we sifted through it and started writing skeletons. We had two work stations so it was twice the productivity. Not to mention it was a collaborative effort as far as everybody putting their heads together. All of us always write but sometimes if I write a whole song, it ends up being by me. This time, it seemed like everyone put in their effort in each song.”


Having three guitarists in Whitechapel has been somewhat of a unique aspect of the band. They found ways to utilize each member into their music and making it a vital part of their overall sound.


We’ve had it for so long now. It’s something we’ve used to our benefit and learned how to work out. It’s not three guitars and shred fest. It’s three guitarists on stage working together and laying stuff for live sound and making a huge wall of sound. With writing, it’s not a lot of bickering. It’s just three heads writing instead of one or two. It makes for a better collaborative input as far as writing goes. We make it work to our advantage.”



Reaching album number five is a milestone for many bands today, since many do not make it this far. But Householder does admit there are some challenges towards the creative process into writing Whitechapel songs. “I’m sure it’s the same for all of us. We always have the drive and always something new we want to try. The writing process is pretty streamlined for us now. We know how to read each other and work with each other. It’s stressful but not difficult.”


Whitechapel band 2

Over the years, Whitechapel has found itself in front of vast audiences, ranging from Trivium to The Devil Wears Prada to GWAR, as well as stints on the Vans Warped Tour and the Rockstar Mayhem Fest. The band is up to the challenge of playing in front of any crowd and winning over new fans.


We’ve done GWAR and Asking Alexandria. That’s definitely our demographics. We did those tours for a reason because there’s always kids who will never wind up hearing us before or had heard of us, and end up liking us. I think that’s helped us a lot. You have to try it out. You have to stretch your legs and see what happens.”


While they are up for the challenge, they also realize reactions may be mixed towards what they do. “It’s mixed. Sometimes we’re too extreme for some people. I think for the GWAR fans they’re there to see some raunchy metal anyways. It was easier to appeal to them because they were there to have a good time. They liked what they heard.”


Householder spoke about the deathcore genre tag that Whitechapel often gets lumped into. While this semi-new moniker that has taken the metal world by storm, the band claims to not let it hinder its creativity or interfere with its growth process in any way:


I think it’s a lot more metal and some of our older releases are coming into it more. Once again, I said deathcore is just a certain genre we don’t want to stick by. It’s just boring. I’m sure we’ll always be labeled that. I guess that’s where we come from. I’ve never heard the term deathcore until I started playing for Whitechapel and it’s a sub-genre of a sub-genre I could give a fuck. The fact is we’re doing what we’re do. We weren’t sitting there writing to saying we need to do this to sound like this. It’s just what came out. It’s what gradually what’s grown as time went on.”


While the band tours a lot, they always find time to work on new material: “Winter time we’re home a lot,” he said. “Like I said, writing’s a year long process. When I’m at home, I’m in front of my computer every day. It’s not finding time. We always find the need to do it because we always want to be ahead of it. When it comes time to writing the album, we want to have a jump start on it. Half the time we’re on the road and half the time we’re at home, we’re constantly building up material.”


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Whitechapel – Our Endless War

Whitechapel album cover

A name often associated with the much maligned deathcore explosion that rocked the metal world in 2006-07, Whitechapel continues to march forward (and slowly distance themselves from the glut of mediocrity within the subgenre) with the release of their fifth studio album, Our Endless War (Metal Blade).


Much like their 2012 self-titled effort, Whitechapel once again chose to work with producer Mark Lewis and deliver another ten track offering focusing on groove with tinges of melody, guitar solos and actual hooks. And you can’t really knock on the band for going down that avenue. It’s an approach that’s worked well for the Tennessee collective thus far as its garnered them strong commercial success (with regards to deathcore they’re sales are only surpassed by artistically inferior acts like Suicide Silence, Bring me the Horizon, etc…). However this muscular, groove oriented style marks them as creatively stifled if compared to the likes of All Shall Perish or The Red Chord.


While the meat of the record is still in the down-tuned chug of songs like ‘The Saw is the Law’ and ‘Mono’ there are some pleasant surprises in the Whitechapel arsenal this go around. The album’s vaguely political title-track (and best number they’ve written in years), reminds the listener that Whitechapel hasn’t forgotten about the hardcore punk aspect of their musical DNA. This unexpected dynamic shift in sound got me wondering why it so took so long for deathcore bands to dabble in the hardcore portion of their genre.

To contrast the hardcore snarl, tracks like ‘Blacked Out’ and ‘Worship the Digital Age’ are blast-beat filled compositions that channel Whitechapel’s most death metal oriented release, the underrated and recently reissued The Somatic Defilement. Our Endless War is peppered with these gut-punching gems, but it’s never consistent enough.


My issue with Whitechapel is perfectly captured with this latest album. They’re perfectly content with being just good enough and showing the occasional glimpse at greatness. But like I stated before, if something is working then why change it? Whitechapel will continue to sell well and get solid tour offers off the strength of Our Endless War. I’ll readily admit that I’ll watch them live again and look forward to many of these new songs, but I’m still waiting for their truly great album that will completely shed the deathcore label.

 Whitechapel band 2


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Hansel Lopez