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There was a time, perhaps less time ago than I'd like it to be, in which I was something of a metalcore creature. Back then, when I was climbing the stairs that would eventually lead me to Testament and Deicide, there was a term that interested me a lot - deathcore. Of course back then I lived mostly based on rumours and I had no idea of what deathcore was apart from All Shall Perish. When, later, I actually decided to use my resources and discover some deathcore music, I wasn't pleased at all with what I was hearing. It felt all too forced and boring. However, there were a few albums which I actually regarded quite well. One of these was (and still is) A New Era of Corruption.
I'm not gonna lie. Most deathcore is horrible, if you ask me. The terrible melding of death metal and metalcore it is know for often consists merely in a huge chain of chuggy breakdowns that make KoЯn sound like a progressive rock band. The drumming is generally unexceptional, which isn't a surprise considering that its main function is to punctuate the breakdowns. The vocals are hit-or-miss and the themes that these bands find to write lyrics are often either childish or ridiculously cryptic (and often meaningless). After having heard Whitechapel's two first albums I wasn't entirely convinced about the band, as some of these elements made a regular presence on their earlier material. However, with A New Era of Corruption, I do think Whitechapel managed to stray away from other deathcore acts.
The reason for which A New Era of Corruption is so good (for deathcore terms at least) is because the band is obviously avoiding the typical deathcore elements, or at least the most irritating ones, replacing them with more pleasant musical traits that still fit the deathcore moniker, if not completely, at least partially. Instead of composing songs entirely made out of breakdowns, Whitechapel tried to play around with groove. There are even faster-paced sections that play a nod to melodic death metal, and guitar solos. In some way, this is less of a pure deathcore album (like their first two albums) and more of a very heavy groove/nü-metal album.
The riffs are nice but they're a bit lukewarm at first if you think that these guys have three guitarists. However, there's always some ear candy under the form of the Pantera/Chimaira-esque flavour of the said riffs. Occasionally the band drops the groove to jump in faster, somewhat more melodic sections (such as in "Breeding Violence" around 0:59). There are also guitar solos all over the album, and typical deathcore breakdowns are nearly impossible to find, although metalcorish breakdowns are pretty frequent. The bass is moody, like in the previous releases, making the sound here much darker than in any other deathcore release. The guitar work is close to some sort of groove thrash plagued with nü-metal elements - which, despite being far from stellar in overall terms, is indeed a triumph in the world of deathcore, which generally makes nü-metal sound like Bay Area thrash.
The drumming is not exemplar nor exceptional, but it has indeed been finely played. It varies from a more typical technical groove style to intense blastbeating in the faster sections, as if the drummer wasn't decided between groove thrash drumming and death metal drumming. From a mile of distance, this may be the best drumming I've ever heard in deathcore, and it is superior to most metalcore bands.
The vocals are quite decent. Phil Bozeman manages to sound like an actual death metal vocalist (very rare in deathcore) and not like a melodic metalcore vocalist (like on most deathcore bands). The pearl of his performance is probably the song "Reprogrammed to Hate", arguably the heaviest song of the entire album, where Bozeman showcases a level of aggression never seen before in deathcore, fitting very well the song itself. However, there are also the weaker points (such as in "Necromechanical" where Bozeman decides to growl "I am a machine!" for half an hour) which stop, rather than inverting, the quality of the material in question. The lyrics are great, focusing on serious themes that everyone can relate to, such as the post-9/11 society ("Breeding Violence") or the rise of religious fanatism ("Prayer of Mockery").
Overall, it can be said that this is one of the few good albums of a mediocre era. Many deathcore fans disliked it, of course, because it's not a pure deathcore album, but a combination of death metal, hardcore, groove thrash and nü-metal elements that can be, after the evaluation of the result, called deathcore. This album is recommended to open minded people who may be interested in a deathcore album that doesn't come as an insult to the two genres implied in the term. Not recommended for diehard deathcore kids who are in desire for br00tal breakd0wns and diehard death metal fans who may be displeased by the band's general focus on groove over speed. If you're somewhere in the middle, it won't hurt to give it a listen.