Death Squad: The Deathcore Round-Up
Having formed in February 2006, Knoxville, Tennessee’s Whitechapel are relative newcomers to the scene. But as evidenced by their admirable album-per-year schedule, these six dudes aren’t wasting any time. On their latest album, 2008’s This Is Exile (Metal Blade), Whitechapel come off as the Lynyrd Skynyrd of deathcore, thanks to the triple-guitar assault of Alex Wade, Ben Savage and Zach Householder. With Wade and Householder providing constant rhythmic bombardment, Savage unleashes his searing leads at will.
What the hell is deathcore?
ALEX WADE Deathcore combines the fast, bludgeoning brutality of death metal with the aggression, energy and breakdowns of metalcore.
Which death metal guitarist or album most influenced your style?
WADE Definitely John Gallagher from Dying Fetus.
BEN SAVAGE Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman. No one can touch the sheer aggression of his songs.
ZACH HOUSEHOLDER Dino Cazares from Fear Factory and Divine Heresy.
Which hardcore guitarist or album most influenced your style?
WADE Matt Fox from Shai Hulud. I was floored when I first heard That Within Blood Ill-Tempered.
SAVAGE Blood Has Been Shed definitely changed my outlook on heaviness with their landmark album Spirals, which is really the beginning of deathcore.
HOUSEHOLDER [Daniel] DL [Laskiewicz] from the Acacia Strain has always impressed me. That man is a machine!
What non-metal guitarist most influenced your style?
WADE Justin Beck from Glassjaw. His sense of groove and the way he structures songs with hooks and melody is astounding.
SAVAGE [Yes guitarist] Steve Howe’s technical chops have been vastly influential on me. But I take inspiration from anywhere, from Jimmy Page to John Fogerty to Paul McCartney.
HOUSEHOLDER George Thorogood and the Destroyers always intrigued me, because I loved the attitude that he put into his music.
What distinguishes deathcore from metalcore and death metal?
HOUSEHOLDER True death metal—Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Psycroptic, et cetera—has straight blast beats, a few groove parts, constant, indistinguishable vocals and no breakdowns. Metalcore features more major scales and an almost happier feel, with clean, singing vocals at times. Metalcore also has breakdowns, which it shares with deathcore, but deathcore is still meaner and less happy sounding.
What technical skills are needed to play this music?
WADE You need tight chops, good tremolo picking and an understanding of this style.
SAVAGE Left- and right-arm coordination and precision. I can always tell an experienced player from a beginner by his picking and strumming. A good sense of groove and timing is also helpful.
What piece of gear is crucial to making deathcore?
WADE As cheesy and Limp Bizkit as it sounds, I’d have to say a downtuned guitar is crucial.
SAVAGE I would say a tube amplifier like a Peavey 5150 or a Marshall JCM800. Other than good songwriting, that heavy, thick saturated guitar tone is the key element that makes most bands.
What guitar are you playing, and why is it right for your sound?
HOUSEHOLDER We all play ESP Stephen Carpenters SC-607s and Jackson seven-string guitars, which are mean-sounding, tough-looking instruments. They come stock with EMG pickups and locking tuners, which is perfect for getting that distorted metal guitar tone.
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