"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Whitechapel - "A New Era of Corruption" (CD)

Whitechapel - "A New Era of Corruption" CD cover image

"A New Era of Corruption" track listing:

1. Devolver (3:58)
2. Breeding Violence (3:19)
3. The Darkest Day of Man (3:00)
4. Reprogrammed to Hate (3:45)
5. End of Flesh (4:03)
6. Unnerving (3:39)
7. A Future Corrupt (2:57)
8. Prayer of Mockery (3:35)
9. Murder Sermon (3:59)
10. Necromechanical (4:21)
11. Single File to Dehumanization (4:43)

Reviewed by on June 5, 2010

"Ultimately this isn’t Sweden’s death metal or particularly technical death metal, but death metal that is dirty, muddy, disgusting, repulsive and catchy. In a good way."

Whitechapel are relative newcomers to the American death metal scene. In business since only 2006, “A New Era of Corruption” will be their third full-length in four years. And when you get Jason Suecof to produce and Chino Moreno from The Deftones to guest, you must be doing something right in that short amount of time. Named after the neighborhood in London where Jack the Ripper allegedly left many of his victims, Whitechapel aims to be as ruthless and unpredictable as the fabled murderer. While their first two albums were generally regarded as collections of good riffs instead of complete musical efforts, Whitechapel has expanded their songwriting on “A New Era of Corruption” to encompass both grindcore and death metal in a constantly changing, yet repetitive, assault.

Each song on “A New era of Corruption” is difficult to peg as a specific type or formula, as Whitechapel moves between elements and styles constantly. “Devolver” starts with a dirty chug under blast beats and a line from lead guitarist Ben Savage, but quickly moves to a grind piece and back to a melodic death metal section all within 90 seconds. There are also a few different bridges and breakdowns mixed in for good measure. Whitechapel manages to keep the music together through repetition; in this case it is Savage’s lead hook reappearing a few times to lead listeners back to the light.

And it is this way through the entire album; mixing rhythmic vocal sections, like the barks on “Breeding Violence,” with dirty grind and speedy grind, all wrapped in a death metal cover. Instead of songs standing out, moments do, as it is tough to get a grip long enough before getting thrown back into the confusion. At first listen is it the surprisingly decipherable vocals of Phil Bozeman and Savage’s solos that grab the most attention, but after repeated spins other aspects, both good and bad, float to the top.

The menacing groove from guitarists Alex Wade and Zach Householder (the band has three guitarists) on “The Darkest Day of Man” makes the whole song feel like a breakdown. “Unnerving” is just that, in a good way, with Kevin Lane’s shape-changing drums piling on over breakdowns that break down other breakdowns. The breakdown under Savage’s bends on “Prayer of Mockery” is heavy as hell too, as we are torn trying to listen to the pit-frenzy breakdown and fist-pumping solo.

But all is not positive; “Necromechanical” gets a little lost in the pinch harmonics and all the different blast beat speeds, eschewing the successful repetition formula Whitechapel implements on other tracks. When we finally dig out of the maze on “Necromechanical,” the breakdown and solo are the most banal on the entire album. Various points of “End of Flesh” are more examples of this, like the acoustic bridge to pounding chug festival. Similar moments pop up from time to time, showing Whitechapel can still get lost in the mixture.

But these specifics are just evidence to illustrate a point; Whitechapel has made a pretty good album. American grindcore and American death metal with an infusion of old fashioned songwriting 101 - the repetition of key elements - make a tough combination to handle, and Whitechapel has handled it ably. Ultimately this isn’t Sweden’s death metal or particularly technical death metal, but death metal that is dirty, muddy, disgusting, repulsive and catchy. In a good way.

Highs: “Unnerving” and “Devolver” offer the best mixtures of grindcore and death metal.

Lows: Sometimes the music just gets too mixed up, like on “Necromechanical.”

Bottom line: Grindcore, death metal, and songwriting meet on this promising album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)