Review Summary: A strong breath of fresh air to modern deathcore.
Death of an Era is a five-piece deathcore band hailing from Columbus, Ohio. To date, the band has released two eps and one full length album. "The Great Commonwealth" is their second ep and is quite a solid listen for the genre. Death of an Era haven't created a fully unique release, but instead one that stands out slightly among the sea of bland breakdown worshipers. "The Great Commonwealth" is mostly crushing, with some solid technical riffing and a number of breakdowns that are genuinely heavy and run at breakneck speeds, a touch of metalcore electronics to add a feeling of cinematic orchestration, and a few cleanly sung choruses that go over better than you might expect. This ep strives to give deathcore a better name and, while not saving the genre, it does help a little.
The ep runs at about 24 minutes over six tracks which I think is a good length for an ep. Most eps seem to be at most twenty minutes and go by with very little effect as a result of the short time. "The Great Commonwealth" opens up with the track "Create, Sustain". Death of an Era choose to come out of the gate swinging with a heavier track. Riffs and breakdowns are the name of the game here. Death of an Era seem to perpetually move at moderate to fast speeds and rarely slow down. Most of the breakdowns are fast and full of right hand precision required chugging. The breakdown after the one minute mark in "Create, Sustain" gives off a vibe akin to The Holy Guile in guitar tone and the general technicality of the breakdown. There isn't an overwhelming amount of lead work but it's usually effective. The leads are often ominous sounding and used to enhance build ups, intros, and breakdowns. The drum work is of particular note. Fast, heavy, and constantly shifting, the drums always seem to be doing something intense. A few nice fills work their way in as well. The vocalist is very talented with his low gutturals, though he arguably over utilizes them and is pretty unintelligible. His high screams are an odd half scream/half yell form of vocals but it works. "Create, Sustain" and following track "P.O.S." take on the job of showing what these guys can do and complete their task admirably.
On third track "Shapeshifter" things start to change. The song begins in usual fashion but inexplicably a clean sung chorus works its way in. The final three tracks share this trait while still keeping the heavy riffs and breakdowns. The "Shapeshifter" chorus is particularly good based not on the singing but the instrumentation. There is an interesting lead and a more complex rhythmic pattern rather than just a basic chord progression. The clean vocals throughout the ep are well done for the most part. The vocalist has a slightly pop tinged voice but doesn't sing particularly high. The choruses work when it comes to adding variety but Death of an Era works best when being crushing.
The production of the ep is clear and filled to the brim with something in the mix at all times. Rarely is there much of a break for the listener so it could be exhausting to someone not used to much heavy music. The guitars dominate the bass in the mix almost completely. The bass is present to fill up the lower frequencies but only once does it come out on its own. In the song "American Dictation" a literally two second bass groove comes in. What's especially sad is how good the tone is. Very tight, crunchy, and incredibly heavy yet it gives way to the guitars far too soon. Occasionally the listener can catch a hint of bass in the breakdowns but every time without fail it disappears as quickly as it appeared. The electronics added to the ep are pretty well done. They may not click with everyone, but rather than being dance inducing they add a cinematic effect to certain moments. The same detractors of deathcore still have cause to complain. No matter how crushing the breakdowns, the fact that there are breakdowns will bring it down in their eyes. More riffs and fewer breakdowns wouldn't go amiss but for now it's not much of a problem.
In the end what Death of an Era does well is a diverse mix of deathcore, metalcore, and slightly djent like moments. All of the elements used have been done before and probably better but Death of an Era have shown themselves to be strong breakout act in the genre. Not a band to be missed if they continue on this path in the future.