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Experimentation is a dangerous thing, especially when you are on the top of your game. After Whitechapel’s mediocre 2010 release, A New Era of Corruption, I was skeptical over the band’s future in the deathcore genre (for more details, see my review of their previous full length). I stated that they seemed to be pulling away from their “core” roots, for a more straightforward death metal sound. Then, in 2011, they released the Recorrupted EP. This featured a new song, Section 8, which was alright. It was just alright, however. It also included a cover of the classic Pantera song “Strength Beyond Strength.” While it was a solid cover, it worried me about what to expect on their upcoming release. The rest of the EP, aside from the interesting acoustic version of “End of Flesh” from ANEOC, made me want to vomit. Before this album was released, I went to see Whitechapel on their 2012 headlining tour. They were amazing, which renewed some faith I had lost in the band. Upon the release date, I kept my fingers crossed.
The album leads off with a light piano medley. While it’s quite relaxing, it doesn’t really serve any significant purpose. Perhaps it’s meant to be the calm before the storm? Around the 35 second mark, the guitars kick in, and what does this sound like? Pantera. We are also blessed with the opening line of “We've been somatically defiled, exiled, and now this new era has come to an end.” This is obviously referencing their previous albums (2007’s The Somatic Defilement, 2008’s This Is Exile, and the aforementioned 2010’s A New Era of Corruption). Maybe it’s also meant to clarify that they are evolving from their pervious sound? Oh damn, here we go.
Phil Bozeman has always been an idol of mine in terms of both vocal range and writing ability. While their first album was primarily about raping and killing prostitutes, their sophomore and junior albums deal with issues of politics and religion. While they are less amusing, they are something that most of us can relate to. This album’s lyrical content sounds like nothing more than a pissed off, angst-filled teenager. “We are worthless, you all suck, I will kill you all, blah blah blah.” God, shut the fuck up. We get it. Also, Phil’s diversity as a vocalist is history. He may be trying to change his style, but why would you do that when you are in your prime? In “Make It Bleed”, he sounds like Phil from Pantera and in “Hate Creation,” he sounds like Corey Taylor from Slipknot. In “Dead Silence,” I don’t know what the fuck he is doing. Are you kidding me? In “Hate Creation,” there are even parts when he is talking rather than growling or screaming. I almost shed a tear the first time I heard this. Phil either needs to go back to his older, more unique style of vocals, or he needs to simply go.
I don’t have much to complain about as far as the guitars are concerned, other than the fact that it sounds like these songs were written in about a week’s time. Sure, they are technical and catchy (to an extent), but they lack the intensity that they once had. Also, in some of the songs, you can hardly tell that there are 3 guitarists. In their sophomore album, This Is Exile, there are many guitar parts, particularly in the instrumental tracks, that are both eerie and beautiful all at the same time, which is hard to do. I don’t feel that in this release. The bass is also almost completely inaudible, except for songs like “Possibilities of An Impossible Existence,” which is more of a slower song compared to the rest of the album. I recommend putting away the 8 string guitars, stop ripping off Pantera, Slipknot, and Meshuggah, and go back to what you are not only the most talented at doing, but what you are famous for.
When I heard that Kevin Lane, longtime drummer of the band, had left the band, I died a little bit inside. Not only because he was an extremely talented drummer, but because it’s sad to see an original member leave. In the Recorrupted EP, we were given a new song titled “Section 8,” that showcased what their new drummer, former Knights of The Abyss drummer Ben Harclerode, could do. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. Sure, he is a very fast player, but so what? Do people really think that that’s all there is to it? Kevin was a very creative and innovative drummer, whereas Ben is simply playing the part. Kevin also had a very simple, quite small setup. However, Ben seems to think it necessary to have an overly excessive setup that is really not necessary. I’m not denying his talent, but he lacks the intensity and passion that Kevin Lane put forth on the previous albums. Kevin stood out, where Ben simply blends into the crowd.
As a whole, this is not the worst album I’ve ever heard, but it is definitely the worst thing that this six-piece group from Tennessee has ever released. Through all of the rip-offs of various bands, primarily Pantera, this leaves many old school fans disappointed. It may serve some justice to those who oppose this genre in its entirety. However, it is a huge slap in the face to those of us, like myself, who used to idolize Whitechapel as being one of the few deathcore bands that did not fall into the stereotype which has plagued this entire genre of music. They have moved on, and so should their long time fans.