WHITECHAPEL
"A New Era of Corruption"

(Metal Blade)

01. Devolver
02. Breeding Violence
03. The Darkest Day of Man
04. Reprogrammed to Hate
05. End of Flesh
06. Unnerving
07. A Future Corrupt
08. Prayer of Mockery
09. Murder Sermon
10. Necromechanical
11. Single File to Dehumanization

RATING: 8/10

I remember reviewing WHITECHAPEL's debut album "The Somatic Defilement" (Siege of Amida/Candlelight) for a revered, but sadly now defunct, print magazine and thinking that the Knoxville boys were really onto something, at least in terms of modern death metal was concerned. Today the term would be "deathcore," even though that incredibly heavy debut was more about down-tuning its three-guitar attack and crushing, regardless of whether that might have involved something along the lines of a breakdown. The point is that the album made an impact just before the deathcore levy broke and drowned anyone within earshot in a sea of mediocrity. Then the bidding war for album number two began, Metal Blade won, and WHITECHAPEL became the face of deathcore with "This is Exile", an album that featured noticeable improvement in songwriting to go along with the sheer brutality. 'Core or no 'core, WHITECHAPEL stated from day one that their first concern was, in not so many words, to unleash heaviness in the most suffocating of ways and keep improving. They've not only succeeded in accomplishing Phase III of that mission with "A New Era of Corruption", but they've done it by managing to still stand apart from the now ridiculously crowded deathcore scene.

I'll be the first to admit that the digital or snail-mail arrival of a new deathcore release for review consideration rarely does little more than make me think of one word "next!" Some of that is due to preference and some of it to the recognition that there just aren't that many bands out there that do deathcore well or make it memorable. WHITECHAPEL is one of the few bands that do it well and "A New Era of Corruption" is further proof it. Part of that has to do with the fact that the band's sound has always been defined far more by the term "death" than 'core, regardless of the opinions of some that will dub anything rubbery and down-tuned as deathcore. "A New Era of Corruption" is pummeling by anyone's definition and it has little to do with anything breaking down. Secondly, WHITECHAPEL don't overdo the incorporation of high-register (or scream) vocals now used to maddening formulaic excess by so many of their contemporaries. Rather, the act has a vocalist in Phil Bozeman that possesses one hell of a low-end bark/growl and is more than capable of carrying a song primarily in that mode, only departing when the pattern calls for it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the songwriting on "A New Era of Corruption" is relatively varied and considerably more impacting than the vast majority of Johnny-come-lately deathcore acts. Melody is used wisely; enhancing memory retention, yet never backing the songs into the crossover commercialization corner. And while there will always be some level of disagreement over the necessity of three guitars, WHITECHAPEL get quite a bit of mileage out of the triple-axe attack on "A New Era of Corruption" by offering effective counterpoints, moving leads, and a lot of little things that help give the songs character and the sense of dread that has pervaded all three releases.

So I'm pleasantly surprised that even the deathcore glut hasn't irrevocably tainted my objectivity when it comes to bands like WHITECHAPEL and albums like "A New Era of Corruption". One just needs to step back, detach from overt preference/bias, and recognize that the group's third effort is a deep bruiser with more substance than the average core-bear. They've still got something going on. I just find the Tennesseans' bludgeon cake to have a more distinctive taste than the pastries made by the likes of SUICIDE SILENCE or THE ACACIA STRAIN.

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