Review Summary: A band fails to revitalize a stale scene with their third full-length album.
From the depths of the modern-day fad "deathcore" came Whitechapel, a band who rode the reigns to success on their first and second albums, The Somatic Defilement
and This is Exile
, both of which have notarized the band as another scene staple as well as just another deathcore band. Granted, there was some angular technicality on tracks like "Possession," but the band still fell ill to the plague of conformity, placing it higher on their priority list than the drive, or the wherewithal, to progress and develop their talents. Fret not, there was some amount of talent which boiled within the band members, particularly the guitarists; however, as many have pointed out, much of their sound was played without justification. They use three guitarists, but rarely does the sound of their music break beyond the standard aggressive rhythms and roaring leads, leaving the third guitarist as nothing more than an unnecessary inclusion (if not some warped and haphazard take on a gimmick). And rather than focus on their nearly acceptable take on death metal, they shroud their potential in a dismal blanket of absolutely passé metalcore trends. The "chugga chugga choo choo!" technique rains on Whitechapel's parade, as does the trite slip into uninspired cliché material. Both of these elements, along with some less-than-admirable vocals, allowed some acceptably bland material to fall far below many people's (including my own) standards. But, since This Is Exile
's incarnation, the band have taken some strides in order to evidence they do want to improve beyond the outright poor and into the slightly memorable.
For example, when approaching their sonic intensity, the band have opted for more sneaky riffs, dynamic shifts, and components of that sort rather than the breakdown-laden "core" which they previously revolved around. Granted, traces of their oh-so-humble beginnings are evident, but they take an ancillary role in comparison to their more acceptable features. Their best practice of their mechanical death metal (which is obviously rooted in British metal ancestry) is on "Reprogrammed to Hate" which features one of metal's more notorious performers, Chino Moreno. The telepathic fluency between Moreno and Phil Bozeman, Whitechapel's lead vocalist, is exciting, and its charm is undeniable, but in comparison to this track, all else on A New Era of Corruption
All of the elements of Whitechapel have improved. There's no use nor is there validity to any argument stating otherwise. Bozeman's vocal tactics are more diverse than ever, and the instrumentation is more technical and effective. But the songwriting slips more oftentimes than not into uninspired and trite territory. The angular score may feature a few frenetic exercises here and there, but the arrangement itself, or perhaps the lack of pathos behind it, lead to an unassuming listen. Loud and steadfast solos litter the album, as do drum fills and other metal characteristics. Bozeman alternates between hoarse growls and rigid yells, and the guitarists jump from high to low pitches. The bass is, of course, inaudible, but hardly anything interesting is done with Whitechapel's sound. A few flickers of promise litter the first four tracks, but once these end, the rest of the album is left to make and impression with not much more than a few instrumental graces. Occasionally they burst out of their tedious style in favor of chaos and adept takes on impending doom. Here, they show that they have all the elements to succeed, but they simply lack the wherewithal to make it work.
Take for example "End of Flesh" a track which tries to escape the blast beat driven, drop A tuned scene with an acoustic passage, but the rest of the song flies by without any intriguing moments. Most of the other tracks on the album follow the same path, only further solidifying the band's status as just another one of these bands. However, there's some potential being fulfilled here, but that's still not saying much. In fact, Bozeman said it best when declaring:
"I am alive
But I am dead in the world I was born into...
I am rotting away into a state of mind
Altered, lethargic, bleeding from the eyes."
If nothing else, it can be seen as a metaphor for the band's style: distorted, lazy, and generic to the point that it seems Whitechapel is only a band alive in a dead scene. Their proverbial step in the right direction comes too little, too late and therefore, A New Era of Corruption
is an extremely boring release. Sure it may have a few things going for it, but almost nothing is constructed out of these elements.