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The deathcore scene of the mid-late 2000s is one of the most criticized eras of metal. I’m sure most of us remember the neon band tees, gauged ears, and emo-kid hairdos. The music was a cornucopia of breakdowns, pig squealing, dropped A guitars, and lots of ex-girlfriend lyrics. All in all, those were ridiculous days. And to make matters worse, you had countless bands trying so hard to copy the sound of Suicide Silence’s The Cleansing. Hence, the term “Suicide Silence clone” was born.
And yet, amidst this movement of scene kid poserdom, you could potentially find a release that truly stood out from the generics. And Whitechapel’s debut full-length comes to mind.
The Somatic Defilement is not a Cleansing or Doom. Forget the HxC breakdowns, emo lyrics, and (cringy) anthemic vocal breaks. Just throw those out the window. Take what’s left and add in a tech-death influence, guttural vocals, and some breakdowns much more intelligent and memorable than expected. That’s the sound you get from Whitechapel back in 2007.
The album begins with a audio clip of Dahmer with some creepy static, and then rips into the title track. “The Somatic Defilement” kicks off with a massive slam riff accompanied by vocalist Phil Bozeman’s deep, guttural growling. The song’s intro does drag on for some time, but finally transitions into a complex riff reminiscent of old Cryptopsy. The song contains many of these riffs before the first breakdown begins. What you’ll notice is that there’s no buildup, no anthemic vocal break, and no bassdrop. Just pure downtuned, vicious breaking. The other breakdown is just as heavy, and neither does that one use the moshing rhythm. To make things interesting, the song concludes with a melodic outro, the band fading away and leaving a violin section to finish the song.
Throughout the rest of the album, you’ll find much more of this. What’s nice about The Somatic Defilement, that I can’t say about a lot of other deathcore albums, is that the songs can be distinguished from each other. The guitar riffs are quite interesting, actually. There’s no solos, or really any “shredding” so to speak, but Ben Savage, Zack Householder, and Alex Wade definitely possess much skill and writing ability. Drummer Kevin Lane performs excellently – his double-bass usage is not overdone like you’d hear in a lot of other deathcore bands, and his diversity in rhythms and blast beats give him much credibility.
Bozeman is an excellent vocalist in general, but this album is where he shined his brightest. His growls and gutturals are powerful as all hell, deep, and menacing. His high screams aren’t the best, but fortunately he utilizes them very sparingly.
Whitechapel’s lyrics on this album are probably the least deathcore thing about it. The whole album focuses on a narrative of Jack the Ripper. The lyrics are styled like traditional death metal – instead of complaining and crying, there’s gore, torture, sadism, rape, and other pleasant things you might hear from the likes of Obituary and Cannibal Corpse.
My favorite track on the album is “Vicer Exciser”, which relies on speed, being possibly the fastest song on the album. It doesn’t take even to breathe, keeping it technical and brutal the whole way through, and its brevity gives it that feeling of a spontaneous, vicious sonic attack. The breakdown in the middle is insane.
Now, as a deathcore fan, I tend to be more accepting of the genre. But I do understand why a lot of older metal fans dislike it – it really is a very silly genre and there’s definitely a lot more style to it than substance. But The Somatic Defilement is that album which when you hear, you’re expecting some emo kid to be screaming about his pathetic life with the band just chugging constantly – but instead, you’re treated to an intelligent fusion of oldschool technical death metal and pure, unwatered hardcore. Even if you don’t like deathcore, this album is worth checking out. You might be surprised. For deathcore fans, it’s an essential genre classic.
You read that right.
0/100. As in, there were one hundred possible points that Whitechapel's debut could have achieved, and it scored zero. Is that histrionic? Maybe. But maybe not - as extreme as it sounds, I wouldn't hesitate to say that this album is devoid of artistic value.
Maybe it's the concept - or rather, how horribly the concept comes across. At heart, a concept album sung from the perspective of Jack the Ripper is pretty metal. Plenty of bands, good and bad, have delved into the minds of serial killers, from Slayer to Sepultura to Slipknot. It's a lyrical genre that suits the music well. Metal can be beautiful but is so often insidious and evil, and the serial killer is perhaps the most frightening image it can conjure - all the spectacle of a slasher flick villain without the celluloid to keep you safe. So it should work, right? Well, not always. The key to effectively evoking a killer is to sound either maniacally insane or cold and calculating. Vocalist Phil Bozeman accomplishes neither. His shock-value lyricism reads like a comb through medical journals and thesauruses. Sure, lots of great metal bands ham it up a bit in the lyrics sheets, but you don't always need to "eviscerate" when "gutting" will do the job.
Typical death metal and deathcore themes are touched on throughout the record's mercifully short run. There's necrophilia, dismemberment, and a fair share of gross-out language intended to offend more than express. Sadly, Bozeman makes it clear that he has absolutely no idea how to actually use the vocabulary he employs. Some lines, like "I find a sense in malpracticing the common ways", aren't even complete thoughts, much less well-structured English sentences. Others, such as "I must purloin the genitalia", read like absurdist humor. Even worse are lines like "You've been dismembered and molested", which explicitly steal lyrics from bands who actually know how to use them.
This thievery isn't confined to the lyrics, either. Nearly every breakdown, intro riff and vocal rhythm in the album has been recorded by better bands in years past. The album sounds like a "worst-of" compilation from the biggest Florida death metallers, sewn together by a Hollywood producer aiming to cash in on the newest bunch of kids in camo shorts and half-inch plugs.
If that image isn't what you associate with metal, this is not the album for you. Bozeman's boring, "brutal" vocals bog down the already unlistenable lyrics. Three guitars try and fail to do what one well-written guitar easily could. Pounding drums ignore any nuance, preferring to pummel the listener into oblivion - a feat that would be much more easily accomplished if the bass drum sounded like a bass drum instead of a typewriter.
Ultimately, the album is a sheep in wolves' clothing. It's like Whitechapel went to the death metal Wikipedia page and took their best notes. They've got the growled vocals, and the detuned guitars, and the provocative lyrics. But this formula won't give you a good album. It'll give you Death Metal For Dummies, the best way to sound like death metal to someone who's never heard the style before. Behind the jagged logo and the noisy music is just a bunch of guys who don't fully understand what they're trying to do.
I've given this album more than a few chances. No matter how hard I try, I just can't find a single redeeming feature on The Somatic Defilement. Steeped in breakdowns and groove sections, it exemplifies some of the very worst traits of modern metal. Whitechapel has certainly made some decent records throughout their ten-year tenure, but this is not one of them.
Heavy death metal inspired riffs? Check! Blast beats? Check! Effective use of crushing breakdowns? Check! To the world of deathcore, Whitechapel is a band that needs no introduction. They are from Knoxville, Tennessee and have generated a lot of polarizing opinions in the realm of extreme metal. "The Somatic Defilement" was the band's first release after a couple of fairly decent demos. This is, in my opinion, their heaviest album and also their best to this date.
Whitechapel is known for incorporating three guitarists. This has sparked a fair amount of controversy among much of the general population of metal fans and because Whitechapel is a deathcore band, most people are quick to loathe them for this. I personally think these three guitarists add a great deal to the music, mainly in terms of sheer brutality. This is one of the heaviest albums ever released by a deathcore album and even competes with a lot of actual death metal bands in my opinion. There aren't a whole lot of technically impressive riffs here. Most of the song structures follow a generally similar pattern to one another, utilizing death metal riffs and the breakdowns typical in deathcore, which are, of course, enhanced a bit by the bass. Although most of the time, the third guitar detracts the bass a bit which really is not that big of a deal for me. Really, this band has created a good balance between the two and the three guitars only enhance the experience. The guitar work in the title track is probably my favorite on the entire album. From the riffs to the breakdowns, to that melodic section at the end that leads into the orchestral outro. Unfortunately, this album does lack guitar solos. I like to hear a few solos in my deathcore but in reality, that can be a very rare thing. "Festering Fiesta" contains a section that almost qualifies as a solo but it wouldn't be until the band's next album that they actually started using them somewhat. Even so, this does not degrade my opinion of the album at all, because it's just so damn good otherwise. Just listen to the crushing breakdowns in "Vicer Exciser"! Man does that song rip.
The drums follow along smoothly with the riffs and breakdowns and never deviate from the flow. There is a lot of double bass and blast beats which are very common in deathcore, thanks to the drums being heavily influenced by death metal. They don't really step outside of their comfort zone, rather they stick to similar ideas throughout the album's 32 minutes. This is nothing to worry over, however; these drums get the job done in the most efficient ways possible. This album's sole purpose is to absolutely crush you and the drums definitely contribute to that. In addition to the drums, Phil Bozeman's vocals are as brutal as ever. He uses a no BS guttural approach and on this album, he probably give his best vocal performance. Songs like the title-track contain a lot of low, evil sounding growls. He uses a mix of growls and screams but generally sticks to a lower growl, and his screams become more prominent on later albums. I much prefer his growls on here over anything. The lyrical content generally revolves around the murders committed by Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, England. Because of his killings being gruesome in nature, the lyrics can be pretty "messed up" which adds a lot to the already brutal music. I have definitely heard worse, though. What's somewhat funny in a sick, twisted way is how a lot of his victims seemed to be prostitutes so in a way, this album is all about killing sluts. Oh, yay!
I must say this is one of the finest deathcore albums ever recorded, as well as my first Whitechapel album and one of the albums that made me realize maybe not all deathcore is crap. Really, I would recommend this to not just a fan of deathcore but a fan of death metal as well, preferably brutal death or slam. If you're a fan of deathcore, however, you probably have already heard this. If not, you are certainly missing out.
This is an absolute fucking monster of an album. This easily takes the cake for being one of the heaviest deathcore albums. There is very little to complain about, because the brutality of the album is so enjoyable, it doesn't even matter.
Phil Bozeman's vocals here are very strong, and low. He growls, gurgles, grunts, and screams extremely well. It seems like he went with a slam approach with the abundance of gutturals and the deepness of his vocals on the album. Needless to say, he is a huge part of this album and his contribution is a very big one.
The guitars are almost on the same level as the vocals. They unleash some very brutal chugged riffs that sound very slam and make the album seem even heavier. However, they don't chug the whole entire album. There is still some noticeable melody and some very clever sounding passages which stand out and shine very well. They tend to get a bit repetitive, but for the most part the guitars are very solid.
The bass isn't too easy to hear, but I've actually been able to hear it a bit in some parts. It's pretty much the same as the guitar so it's not terribly special, but just being able to hear it is always a plus because with bass that is a rarity.
The drumming, wow the drumming. It's not outstanding or amazing, but fuck it's still pretty crazy. Kevin Lane unleashes some of the fastest and heaviest double bass kicks. His drumming sounds devastating, and he absolutely obliterates the kit. He also knows how to follow with the rest of the band and remains strong and consistent throughout the whole album. The breakdowns, while a bit excessive, are extremely well done, especially for the time. They hit hard and deliver with intensity, and heaviness. Some of the breakdowns on Devirgination Studies, and Vicer Exciser are great examples of this. I understand this is an old deathcore album, but the production still falls flat a bit, while still not being awful. The Somatic Defilement is a masterpiece because it is almost perfectly executed and incorporates slam influences to it, which makes it only sound even heavier. Very good album, please check it out.
(Update from 2016-08-17: not only was my previous review of this album a bit outdated and I have slightly different thoughts now, but reading it a year later, some of the things in that review just made me cringe. This is a slightly rewritten version that I find a bit less cringe-worthy.)
Whitechapel is a band that needs no introduction. Anybody familiar with the deathcore genre knows who this band is. I personally think they are the best in their genre and they're personally my favorite band in general. I honestly think everything they released is awesome. I'm not trying to sound like a mindless sheep who just blindly worships everything a band releases. I just think their entire discography is THAT good. This is certainly no exception. This album was probably the heaviest deathcore album released during its time and to this day, is still one of the heaviest deathcore albums (and albums in general) that I've ever heard.
The intro, "Necrotizing," is just a serial killer sample. It's okay I guess. It doesn't too much other than just go along with the album.
Phil Bozeman is one of the best vocalists in deathcore, hands down. The only vocalist in the genre I currently think is better than Phil is Dickie Allen from Infant Annihilator. His growls can go extremely low and sound brutal as hell, and his screams are amazing. He gets some shit for his screams but I think they pretty damn good. He does more lows a bit more than highs. He also shows the impressive amount of time he can hold a growl for on the title track. And on the title track, I think I heard 2 gang shouts.I normally think gang shouts sound stupid but those didn't sound too bad.
Phil's lyrics are pretty damn great as well. This might just be me but I don't see why he gets crap for his lyrics on their later albums. As most of you know, this is a concept album based on the murders Jack the Ripper committed. I like the detail he uses to describe the torture. The only song on the album that isn't really related to Jack the Ripper is "Alone in the Morgue." According to Phil, it's "a simple song about a coroner who is a demented necrophiliac." "Festering Fiesta" might be about Jack the Ripper but Phil also said that it "focuses on more of a Jeffery Dahmer approach." I also think it was kind of cool how "Articulo Mortis," the final track, is basically a fabrication of Jack the Ripper conversing with one of his dead victims and feeling regret for what he did. So overall, the lyrics are awesome in my opinion.
The instrumentation is top notch, heavy and can be pretty technical. The guitarists do a pretty solid job are creating good and memorable riffs. The riffing is mostly based influenced by brutal and technical death metal, but there are some melodic death metal riffs that pop up here and there that wouldn't sound out of place coming from a band like The Black Dahlia Murder. There are also some Meshuggah-esque guitar lines, like in "Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation," which are pretty cool too. The drums are very fast and impressive with some pretty good blast beats. The bass is inaudible. The breakdowns are crushing and chaotic too. There are a lot of them, which might turn some people off. But if it makes anything better, they don't use the same breakdown more than once. So that might be an upside for some people. There is also some symphonic stuff at the end of the title track that I really dig. The production on this album is really raw and dirty, which adds to the ridiculous heaviness of this album.
One flaw with this album that isn't really a flaw for me, but might turn some people off is that this album is a bit repetitive. A lot of the tracks on here sound kind of similar, although I don't think it's to the point where it just sounds like one giant song. Then again, that's probably because of how many times I listened to this album.
So, overall, The Somatic Defilement is a damn awesome record. It's pretty much a musical equivalent to a morbid horror movie. Although this is indubitably their heaviest release, I personally prefer This is Exile and A New Era of Corruption. But that doesn't make this album any less amazing and it's definitely worthy of the praise it gets from the deathcore fanbase and it was a great note to start their career on.
2007 was a pretty crappy year for deathcore, due to its popularization between the young emo crowd with bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Suicide Silence, and the beginning of the massive wave of “MySpace bands” which began to infest the deathcore scene, following the path of Suicide Silence’s debut (pretty mediocre if compared with other names of the same scene). But, luckily, there still was some quality stuff around; after all, the invasion of mediocrity was still at the beginning. Contemporarily to Suicide Silence’s “The Cleansing” (even before, to be very precise), Carnifex were releasing their awesome debut “Dead in my Arms” (one of my few favourite deathcore albums ever), and they weren’t alone: Whitechapel, formed just in 2006, was another of those “new” deathcore bands that still didn’t suck balls. They released their debut in 2007 too, and they surely had more potential than Suicide Silence.
In few words, “The Somatic Defilement” is good. I don’t consider it a “masterpiece” of the genre, but it’s far better than most stuff of nowadays. Similarly to Carnifex’s debut, this is practically a deathcore album with slam influences. And, paradoxically, it’s even closer to slam/gore standards in comparison to Carnifex, having also gory/medical lyrics and more guttural vocals. I’d dare to say that, in the mainstream deathcore scene, Phil Bozeman does probably the most guttural growls ever. Obviously, this is not Devourment, so these growls aren’t really that guttural, but for mainstream deathcore standards, this is probably the closest thing to Devourment you could ever hear. The vocal lines still deliver a lot of deathcore cliches, like the “rapped tough-guy vocals” above breakdowns and mid-tempos, but the result sounds nicer than usual, and it’s a pretty hilarious and entertaining mixture if you ask me.
Even the riffs are closer to tech death and brutal death in comparison to Carnifex’s riffs, which are more focused on TBDM-style melodeath and Swedish black metal. But well, this is one of those points that make Whitechapel less memorable. Don’t get me wrong, the riffage on this album is really good and variegated; it’s just less standout than Carnifex’s awesome melodeath riffs. Even if... well, on tracks like “Fairy Fay” and “Ear to Ear”, you can find at least one riff per song that could appear without problems on “Dead in my Arms”, and that’s a great compliment. For the rest, the riffs are mostly focused on modern/tech death/deathcore style and on mid-tempo chugging stuff. The tremolo riffs sound very wicked and have a somewhat “surgical/sick” vibe that fits perfectly with the main topics of the album, sometimes reaching high levels of sickness, especially when mixed with slams (see the title-track or “Ear to Ear”). There are also a lot of downtuned djent riffs that show a strong Meshuggah influence (sometimes even almost reaching nu metal, like on the title-track, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing for my standards), but still keeping consistency and organization, differently from the next albums where all will be turned into a fourth-rate Meshuggah parody.
Well, in fact, the songwriting on this album is pretty good and mostly well-organized, and sometimes also very, very technical. The title-track features a really catchy guitar melody in the refrain and other awesome “surgical” death metal phrasings, and let’s not talk about the mayhemic and, at the same time, technical riff findable on “Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation”, which will blow you away more than once, and the disturbing intro of “Articulo Mortis”. All this good guitar work is sustained by a competent drum work, where powerful and hammering blast-beats are the dominant rule. Even on “Necrotizing”, which is theoretically a noisy spoken intro to the album, the ponderous blast-beats appear on the background, giving an idea of what is gonna come.
Now… the most controversial aspect of every deathcore album: “breakdowns & co.”! Well, I state that I’ve listened to this album more times in the past, when I was beginning to discover deathcore more deeply. I admit that, the second time I listened to it, the breakdowns and the slams turned me a bit off and began to tire me after some tracks, but I wasn’t perfectly sure about what to think. I listened again to the album some months later and, despite not having the best moshy stuff ever, I wasn’t affected so much by this flaw, hearing more pros than cons. Well, let’s face it: the slams on this album are often very brutal and heavy, but sound also pretty generic and, yes, get a bit repetitive after some tracks. However, you will find some hints of refreshment on occasional tracks, like “Alone in the Morgue” (even if the earliest slams on that song sound pretty rehashed from the previous track, but then, the situation improves). Even the breakdowns aren’t the most original ones ever: right from the beginning, you will hear pretty generic breakdowns, and, to be honest, they don’t sound very heavy, excluding sporadic cases like “Devirgination Studies”. But, luckily, each song contains just few slams and few breakdowns, most of the time they’re pretty well-placed and the songwriting doesn’t dwell too much on them (differently from Suicide Silence), so these flaws don’t bring the album down: it’s still very enjoyable, just don’t expect the thunderous slamming mayhem of the first Carnifex album.
In conclusion, “The Somatic Defilement” is a solid example of deathcore with slam and tech death influences. It will offer you many great moments of terror and murderous feelings, as well as some slightly repetitive passages, but it’s not a bad release at all. It beats “The Cleansing” without question and it’s an example of good deathcore made when the genre was already beginning to sink in emo-friendly mediocrity. And, by the way, it’s also the only Whitechapel album I recommend along with the 2012 self-titled, which is pretty decent too. The other releases are just forgettable Meshuggah/Slipknot worship with no fucking charm, and I don’t recommend them at all.
When I first heard Whitechapel’s debut, “The Somatic Defilement,” I found myself initially surprised. I mean seriously, deathcore that’s… good? Why, it couldn't be! A closer examination of this morbid specimen however will reveal some aggravating and frustrating flaws which I cannot get past, and every time I go back to this album it gets worse.
If you look at the lineup, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the three guitarists that played on the album, something that seems completely unnecessary when you turn it on considering I can’t hear any more than two distinct guitar tracks at time, and that itself is rare. The riffs themselves are generic, mostly Meshuggah worship chugging and basic death riffs that don’t go past the first few frets on the heavily down-tuned guitars. Every now and then you’ll get some high pitched melody like in “Festering Fiesta” but don’t expect guitar solos or any real dynamic lead work.
If you look at the lyrics of any Whitechapel album released after this, you’ll probably do a mix of laughing and smashing your head into a brick on how hilariously terrible and angsty they are. Thankfully that isn't the case here. While the lyrics of The Somatic Defilement aren't anything innovative or influential, they are simply good in what they add to the music; consisting of misogynistic and violent first person narratives of the Whitechapel murders. I’d even go as far to say some parts are pretty memorable and that I sang along to a few hooks. Bozeman’s vocals consist of your typical deathcore lows, grunts, and Glen Benton-style high shrieks but he does a fairly good job, particularly at his ability to hold a growl out as shown in the opening seconds of the title track.
The bass is a special type of nonexistent, as if there was somehow negative bass on this album. I don’t know if it’s being drowned out by the three guitars but I can’t hear any on neither the original release nor the remaster. I’m serious too, I turned my EQ bass up all the way and heard nothing. NOTHING.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the album is the performance of drummer Kevin Lane, who can throw some pretty nasty fills in his mix of violent double bass and blast beats. Thankfully, the drum tone itself is pretty good and despite the bass drums being obviously triggered, it doesn't sound like it was made on a goddamn computer like so many of their fellow deathcore acts. As I listened to parts of the album I kept hoping he would leave the band and join something which didn't contain the shittiest, most generic breakdowns ever.
Speaking of shitty generic breakdowns, that right there is the biggest problem with this album, and one that punches me in the nuts every time I go back to it. There’s nothing quite like actually enjoying the songs despite some generics, only to have the song just stop making any progress whatsoever in favor of a breakdown for the scene kids at Warped Tour. It’s like gradually picking up speed in a car only to crash head first into a cement wall. This is especially frustrating when some of the songs actually do contain some highlights and minor innovation, like the cool orchestra outro to the title track, or the Psycho-like scratching strings on “Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation.” While there are some positives of the album, too often I found myself drowned in a sour taste.
Also on a side note, I’ve heard both the original version and the remaster of this album, and as far as I can tell, there isn’t much of a difference (if any) at all. Also the cover art on both sucks, I don’t see the point in changing it to pretty much the same thing, that’s like restoring a painting only to find out it sucked to begin with, which depending on my mood, is sometimes how I feel about the album.
This is The Somatic Defilement and before I state any comment on why this album is so great, let me just say that this album really does mean a lot to me, and I don't mean that sarcastically in any way. This is one of the very first extreme metal records I've ever had a huge love for and the songs themselves are mind-blowing and amazing in every aspect to me in the highest way that deathcore could reach someone. My sophomore year of high school had my heart stolen by this album, I listened to it almost every day after school and I would put it on for numerous occasions. If girls upset me, this record was there to release negative or angry emotions, of which I could just growl the lyrics out to at full blast in my bedroom. If I wanted to hear some heavy tunes to practice vocals along with, this album was also the perfect representation upon my aspiring journey to become a vocalist. And at the end of the night if I wanted a horror story, I could just settle for reading this album's lyric booklet concerning a story around the rape and murder of young women survived on by prostitution. It really does my heart right that Metal Blade is actually releasing a re-issue of this album later in this year. The memories I have with this opus are priceless.
Anyway, onto the review; The Somatic Defilement is Whitechapel's debut full-length after a signing to Candlelight Records and many local Knoxville shows later, they made an audience for themselves in the ripe year of 2007 where deathcore was just launching itself off. Whitechapel smashed into the scene with this outstanding and dark, dark debut. Focusing its entire concept on the murders committed by Jack the Ripper (heck even the name of the band is named after the district where he did the killings), the record is an audial horror story and the musicianship is a rollercoaster of brutalizing riffs, breakdowns, slams, blast beats, guttural growls (and shrieks) and most importantly; musicianship passion. The band's three guitarist compliment each other perfectly and play each one of their own parts, sometimes even having their own specific sections.
Usually I listen to the album I'm reviewing while I review it, but I am so used to this record down to its very essence, listening to it while only talking about its quality would be unnecessary.
Every song on this release is totally memorable and I can recite so many lyrics of so many of the songs. Not only have I heard this record well over 90 times, but the songs themselves just feel so right and original to their own kind. If you want a moving piece ending with an enchanting orchastral ending; the title track has that for you, if you desire full on brutal death metal-esque gurgles and shredding riffs provided by tri-guitar force? Throw on "Devirgination Studies" or "Fairy Fay". If some bits of mathcore influence in your brutal music tickle your fancy, then put on "Festering Fiesta". Speaking of that song, by the way, it feels like the band suddenly decided to become fans of Dillinger, but alas even they stated themselves that Blood Has Been Shed is one of their many influences so I can't be surprised a little hint of mathcore could be found. Also another interesting note, I would like to add, the band apparently rips off Between the Buried in Me at 2:27 on the song "Alone in the Morgue". By what I discovered, BTBAM actually play this exact part in their song "Anablephobia" but with two guitarists and a bassist playing the third note wherein Whitechapel instead play all three notes with their three guitarists. So in all, it's not so much stealing, but I guess taking a part and making it more of their own. Not a bad move at all, just wanted to make note of it.
Finally, I wanna talk about the vocals; this is the album where Phil Bozeman finally makes his big move and his voice is AMAZING. He growls, gurgles and shrieks his way to oblivion truly putting the icing on the cake of an album put around the story of the Jack the Ripper and the absolute utter horror the band displayed the story with. This record could no way be completed without his voice. All the agony, hostility and violence conducted by the lyrics of his growls is brilliance in perfection and that's the best way I can put it. Aside from every other member I've spoke of in the band right now, Kevin Lane's drumming is another thing I want to point out, although his performance is much, much better on This Is Exile, here he plays almost unstoppably good and the production around his kit is almost hand-and-hand beauty.
I would recommend this album to anyone who isn't easily scared away from extreme metal bearing down to the nitty gritty of bands such as Devourment, Bloodbath, Suicide Silence, Carnifex, Suffocation, Job for a Cowboy or The Black Dahlia Murder. This is deathcore at what seems to be its best form (at least to me) not many metal albums do for me what this record has done for me. To me, this album is about as artistic as a high budget film and I couldn't put it any better way. If you thought deathcore couldn't have original pieces or outstanding bands in its genre, you are far from right. This album will always have a special place in my metal collection.
"And now you rot..."
Whitechapel are probably the biggest band in deathcore right now, and with good reason. They're excellent! Their sound has undergone a few changes since their formation, while still staying true to the deathcore sound. Apart from a couple demos nobody cares about it started with this. A brilliant combination of brutal death metal and deathcore.
The first thing we hear is an intro with an excerpt of an interview with Jeffrey Dahmer. Serial killer samples are an obsession with brutal death metal/deathcore bands, and Whitechapel prove no different. Despite the useless intro, the album kicks off to a good start, with Phil Bozeman letting out not one, but TWO insanely low growls, with Kevin Lane showing us his blasts.
The guitar work on this release (played by 3 guitarists) is a mix of crushing breakdowns and faster and at times slightly melodic riffs. The fact there are 3 guitarists is never really shown, apart from the triple harmonised breakdown towards the end of Alone In The Morgue. This album is stuffed with breakdowns and they are very typical of the genre. Nothing you haven't heard before. However, you won't have heard it in the track before. Every breakdown in this release has small but noticeable differences. Most deathcore bands seem content with just using the same breakdown 32 times an album (Chelsea Grin), but Whitechapel know not to do this.
No bass. Not once.
Phil Bozeman is a monster vocalist. His growls are sickeningly low. However, his high vocals are pretty unspectacular, but thankfully he doesn't use them too much. His lyrics are pretty gory and violent, especially for a deathcore band. He uses some degree of medical terminology that would make Jeffrey Walker proud. However, he uses words like "fuck" and "shit" quite a lot, which is a shame, because the rest indicate he's a much more capable lyricist.
The drums are pretty much non-stop triggered to fuckery blast beats, but Kevin Lane still knows to use perfect fills during the breakdowns to stop them getting boring. The production even saves the drums from sounding sterile and lifeless. They genuinely have a heavy tone rather than just "click click click" over and over.
Overall, a brilliant start for one of deathcore and extreme metal in general's best bands. Get this if you like your deathcore with a fuckton of slam/brutal death metal influence.
I have to say This Is Exile did not fail to satisfy my metal needs. Even though it was kind of generic, I would take it anyday instead of this. I'm glad Whitechapel decided to move forward and leave their generic scene metal roots behind, but I'm pretty sure they were aiming directly to the mall when they forged this lame breakdownpallooza that has very little (if at all) death metal moments. This is The Somatic Defilement by Whitechapel.
Lyrically it's plagued with sadistic and gory elements that might remind you of Carcass or Hemorrhage and make you think they really took the time to compose these fantasy gore worshiping death metal lyrics. Also Phil Bozeman knows how to enunciate the words without going all ''grrrrrr'', and his voice doesn't sound bad at all, so this aspect is very acceptable. The only bad thins is how whiny the high pitched vocals sound.
Now, let us jump to the guitar part. Or should I say breakdown part? Yes, perfect for those moshpit kids who don't give a flying fuck about the music with low tuning and poorly executed palm muted riffs. In other words, ''chug chug chug''. They almost remind me of Thy Art Is Murder's ''Infinite Death'', being bland, generic and trendy. Musically, Whitechapel didn't put too much effort elaborating this album and instead decided to throw some random guitar leads here and there just to create the illusion of being a death metal band. Fairy Fay makes you think the song will be some punishing death metal when it starts, but after a couple of seconds more breakdowns come in, completely destroying the atmosphere.
Bass... completely unaudible.
I guess since they were just beggining and this is their very first official release, their drummer wasn't that good. You can tell by the sloppy double bass and the sloppier drum fills and chops. Just take your typical Job For A Cowboy song and take out the drummer's triggers. That's how bad they sound. Perhaps the best part is the whole album's intro. No guitars, no bas. All you can hear is blast beating while some guy describes how is it to preserve someone forever even if it's just a part of it.
Overall this is no different from other hundreds of deathcore acts out there. I gave them 15% because of how clever the intro was.
Whitechapel is one of the three major acts in the contemporary 'deathcore' genre here in the US, which, depending on which side of the 15 year old age barrier you fall, is either one of the most exciting or dreadful trends in all of extreme music. Not as fashionable as California's Carnifex, nor as evolutionary and intense as Arizona's Job for a Cowboy (on a good day), they seem to represent a more blue collar approach to the popular medium. Alas, this doesn't really translate into anything interesting musically, because the Knoxville brutes make most of the same mistakes as many of their less interesting peers, while adding nothing to the table that we weren't already sick of when metalcore turned from its waking, esoteric promise to insufferable pop inflected trash.
The Somatic Defilement seems to operate heavily around some of the most generic breakdowns the human mind can conceive. Breakdowns that were dated even as a seminal band like Earth Crisis or Hatebreed were taking off their training wheels. Add a pinch of math or djent metal influence (Meshuggah, specifically), slight passages of melodic death ala At the Gates, and dual grunt/snarl vocals that sound like your average overbearing tribute to early Carcass, Morbid Angel and Deicide, and let simmer for 32 minutes of dejected, which blows its load all too soon with almost all of its most potentially interesting tricks in the title track, which features several flighty death metal passages dispersed among numerous chug downs. "The Somatic Defilement" is like being teased with a death metal carrot down a shady alley only to be jumped by a pack of metalcore kids wearing huge pants and wallet chains.
This is not the only track that throws away its better seconds to a wasteland of mediocre mosh chugging. "Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation" cycles between a decent opening volley of technical, clinical death spasms to some Meshuggah-like riffing, and then closes with an awful, hack palm mute sequence. "Fairy Fay" gives you about 10 seconds of something brisk before it too segues into the gutter, though there's a nice atmosphere as the lyrics bounce over the mutes into the bridge sequence. "Alone in the Morgue" teases us once more with its intense double bass driven old school death metal riff, sort of a mesh of Suffocation and Pestilence, but then erupts with some choppy, uninspiring riffs and guitar squeals before...you guessed it, another flatulent break down heavy on the palm muting, which completely strangles the momentum.
It's pretty unfortunate, because you can tell if these guys could stop fucking around and further some of their better ideas, they'd manifest into at least an average brutal/tech death metal outfit. Granted, that in itself is not for everyone, but personally I'd find it more compelling than what often seems a ceaseless tirade forged to sate the lowest common denominator of metal and hardcore fans; the mosh tyrant who couldn't give two shits about music, just a free chance to beat on people without spending a night in the slammer. Whitechapel do pen some pretty sadistic lyrics about molestation, murder and sexual malpractice, so in this way they're not a far cry from your typical gore or rape fantasy death metal element, with a slightly more psychotic spin, but the music doesn't even come close to building to a climax before it constantly lets you down with its shallow, vapid grooving and 'tough' sounding death/core vocals.
And now for the sentence that will destroy all my credibility: this album is actually a great deathcore album. I'll give you a moment to let that sink in. Now, anyway, I know how we all think of deathcore as "sloppily executed", "gay", and "disgraceful". To an extent, I can actually agree. I, too, hate my music filled with such bullshit as "breakdowns", "pig squeals", and "br00tality", and I think anyone who enjoys music simply for those three factors should be anally impaled on a stick covered in barbed wire. However, Whitechapel have found the best combination with this album. It's br00tal enough to appeal to the scene kids, but it still has the actual elements that real metalheads will love.
Looking from a moderate distance away, Whitechapel (or their first album, I should say) is semi-brutal deathcore. I've heard people declare that Whitechapel has "black metal" influence, citing the vocals and their screams, but to that I say fucking bullshit. More on this subject later. But basically, this album has about everything right. There are a few awkward parts in the music, but overall, this is great. The guitars make great riffs, the drummer definitely knows his shit, and the vocalist is just shocking.
Let's start with that guy, the vocalist, okay? If deathcore ever had a wedding for whatever reason (perhaps marrying emo and becoming the gayest hybrid genre on Earth, emo-death?), Phil Bozeman would be the "best man"...literally. This guy is definitely the most talent that has come out of deathcore thus far. His growls beat all but the most brutal death metal vocals, and they have the natural gurgle that simply makes them sickeningly awesome. This guy could fit great into a brutal death metal band, and I promise you no one would be complaining. Sometimes, though (particularly, when his voice is raised almost halfway), his voice leans just a bit too close to the "I'm awesome, dude!" side of deathcore. His gutturals are just amazing, though. Listen to "The Somatic Defilement" at 0:22. Some would say that he sounds like a fucking toilet; I say "Isn't that basically what brutal death metal aims for in the vocal department?" His highs are high and raw, but for God's sake, men, this is not signs of a "black metal influence". Black metal screams are raspy, and full of Satan-loving hate. These are comparatively clean, and they're hateful, all right, but you can tell it's a different kind of hate. A bit leaning towards "I'm going to stick your hand in a blender". Either way, blackened or not, these highs are good. The only place where I absolutely despise them are at 0:58 in "Festering Fiesta". Tell me that doesn't "scream" (hurr hurr) Suicide Silence. These guys were trying to escape the grip of typical deathcore in this album as a general rule, but it appears they got pulled back in for a few gay emo seconds. They're not as good as they could be (honestly, these would be better if they WERE black metal screams, as they would fit better with the melody of the guitars), but they appear to have been vocalized exactly as the singer desired, and thus the vocals are a success overall. Sometimes the vocals are layered together, like at the end of "Articulo Mortis" where the highs and lows collaborate to say "And then you rot", and it has potential to send chills down the listener's spine.
Although you won't notice it by ear, there are three guitarists taking part in the riffs on this album. This is the only part that I think is just stupid, because you'll never hear more than two of them playing at once. But besides that, this band makes quite good riffs. Many of them are focused mainly on a mix of distortion and brutality, and melody. A few standout ones to look for are the riff after the intro of "Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation", the one proceeding the intro of "Devirgination Studies", or the beginning of "Alone In The Morgue". The breakdowns are probably the best you'll hear in the world of breakdowns. Honestly, that's not saying much. The breakdowns aren't typical -core shit for the most part, though. They're mostly fast, technical, and they have the decency to stop the music before the breakdown commences so it's not entirely terrible. Some are slow beyond belief, but even then, the band makes the breakdowns interesting because of the tuning in their guitars (the downtuned, slightly quirky factor makes the breakdowns more tolerable than, say, Suicide Silence, who are downtuned but just boring), because there is usually a constant cymbal echoing throughout the song, and because more often than not there's an instrumental or ambient noise behind them, like 1:43 in "Devirgination Studies". I hear people talking about how this album uses the breakdowns excessively. For one, yes, every song has a breakdown, but it's usually no more than two, and it's usually short. For two, have you heard Whitechapel's follow-up to this album? It's literally half-composed of breakdowns, which is more than can be said for this album. Like most deathcore albums, however, the bassist is nowhere to be found on this entire composition. I always joke that they do that because they're idiots and they don't know how to play an instrument. But if the guitarists are any indication, this guy has talent, so he needs to stop letting his instrument get tuned out of the album's mixing process.
The drummer is probably the most talented face in deathcore (except for maybe JFAC's drummer, but I only realized how good he was when he started playing death metal). The set itself sounds pleasurable: the bass pedal sounds like a muted snare, and the snare sounds just a bit silenced and tapered. The crash sounds dry and flat, but the other cymbals have a desired "ding" to them that fits well with the music. He plays fills mostly with the bass pedals (and he makes some really cool rhythms with them, I might add), but he uses the whole goddamn kit at times. Not a drum nor a cymbal is untouched in this album. His works may sometimes be simplistic, but these moments are quite outweighed by the times he's being technical with himself. Want an example? Just listen to the riff of "Ear to Ear" at 1:41, where he's blasting almost like Inferno himself in excess of 200 beats per minute. Later in this song, we see he can be technical with himself while slowing down a bit, and the result is almost godly.
The lyrics are great. Although Whitechapel's other two albums are random ranting on religion with a third-grader's vocabulary, they have quite a way with words here. It's probably the only time I've heard gutting, raping, and overall destruction of decency being put into a form that was beautiful. ("Pass the tissues, please... *sniffle*") Their vocabulary is quite rife with words that make spelling bee participants cringe and writers start using these five-dollar gems, like "suppuration", "abattoir", "inimical", "ingurgitate", and "zygoma". They also know quite well how to write lines about rape without sounding like a sexual pervert or an idiot: "As she chokes and gargles spit/ I amputate her salty clitoris". Again, these lyrics are performed by a deathcore band, but I feel this element of theirs could find their place in a different genre (in this case, goregrind).
This is the best deathcore that will ever sprout from the face of the Earth. Although most of the genre's offspring is a failure, some break through the membrane of horrendousness into mediocrity. This album went past that, however. I think it's safe to say that Whitechapel's full-length will never be touched in terms of deathcore. As Whitechapel have shown, even they can't come near topping this album. They can only sit back, look, and reminisce at the masterpiece they created back in the year of 2007.
Whitechapel, a band that has earned countless fans in and outside of the walls of the Deathcore genre. I normally run like the plague to escape bands of this genre, but I gave these guys a chance. I’ve always said that the reason I don’t listen to Deathcore isn't because it’s Deathcore, rather I don’t listen to it because I think the majority of Deathcore bands are abominable, breakdown starved, shit mongering, clones. After making a statement like that, I couldn’t exactly refuse to listen to this album when it was recommended to me, at least not if the reason was based on the fact that it was Deathcore without looking like a total hypocrite.
I approached this album expecting nothing more than the average Deathcore, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The riffs are more than segues to breakdowns here, in fact, they’re the main attraction. The majority of the riffs aren’t particularly –core related, instead they seem to be far closer to the Death Metal side of the fence. While they aren’t going to be confused for a Nile riff, they have just the right amount of –core influence to make them original Death Metal riffs, rather than tired Deathcore riffs. The riffs are generally heavy, but there are quite a few melodic sections which help to add some contrast and show off a bit more of the guitarists' skills. The best one of these mini solos is in Festering Fiesta.
Unfortunately, all is not perfect from a riff based sense. Whitechapel’s riffs barely resemble Deathcore at all, and they were evidently afraid of being ostracized from the steaming turd of a genre. In an attempt to get back into their Neanderthal friend’s good graces, they resorted to a simple tactic. They packed every song to the brim with breakdowns. These aren’t the well thought out breakdowns of a band like The Red Chord, and they don’t pack the pummeling brutality of a Slam band like Devourment. These are the lowest of the low; these are the dreaded traditional Deathcore breakdowns. There are a handful of good breakdowns to be found on this album (Articulo Mortis, Fairy Fay) but they are rare and far between. The rest of the album is filled with the generic, soulless and horrid breakdowns that plague a band like Waking the Cadaver. (Okay, they aren’t THAT bad) Every song has at least two or three breakdowns, and they drag the quality of the music down into the gutter in quite a few cases. They disrupt any kind of flow that the album might have possessed, and prevent the majority of the songs from being enjoyed straight through without a wince every few seconds. To get to the interesting and unique riffing, you have to wade through miles of knee deep breakdown consistency shit. While a breakdown once in a while can propel a song to new (and brutal) heights, they are overused to a sickening extent here.
The pacing of the album is generally good, and it doesn't get too repetitive due to its short length. Unfortunately, there is one slightly baffling pacing blunder which occurs very early on in the album. The first track (which also happens to be the title track) ends in a truly perplexing fashion.The end comprises of some classical music. While on an individual track basis it works as a great ending, I think it was a bad idea to place it at the end of the first track. It felt like it would have worked far better at the end of the album, and reset the tension levels back to what they had been before the title track had begun.
The guitars are generally done well. They aren’t particularly technical, but they don’t need to be. They are suitably heavy when necessary, and can also be quite melodic at times. There are quite a few parts where two of the three guitars are creating a harmony and this offers good contrast to the standard brutality of the album. Unfortunately, the guitars aren’t flawless. This isn’t due to any faults in their playing, but rather due to the fact that (for some idiotic reason) there are three of them. Two would have been more than enough for any of the harmonies presented here, and more than enough for any of the standard riffs or breakdowns. The third guitar never causes any specific problems, but it completely drowns out the bass which sacrifices an extra degree of heaviness that the band might have been able to achieve without it and it offers no positives to make up for this injury.
The drummer is head and shoulders above almost any other Deathcore drummer I’ve heard. He doesn’t rely on blast beats as a crutch, instead he uses them only when it would fit the music and add an extra degree of drive and heaviness. Quite often he uses rapid paced double bass drumming, similar to a band like Nile (although he never approaches George Kollias in speed). During the breakdowns they manage to be quite heavy and are one of the few redeeming aspects of these parts. His tone is also quite good, and escapes the flat and powerless drum tone that countless other Deathcore drummers use. The only exception is the hi hat, which, while not bad is sometimes grating. Still, the only example where it actually annoyed me was in the title track and it isn’t a particularly big problem.
The vocals are another standout here. Instead of the standard (and atrocious) Deathcore pig squeals, these are very varied and always done well. They range from a lower guttural (similar to Dying Fetus), to a more traditional death growl, to a higher shriek. The lyrics are very well thought out and the album is based off of the exploits of Jack the Ripper. While some liberties are taken, they follow the story quite well and are suitably twisted. They are somewhat understandable too, while you won’t hear every word they are far from the unintelligible gurgles of a band like Cock and Ball Torture.
Overall this is very good for a Deathcore album. If it were not for the breakdowns, it would probably score in the seventies. Still, due to their atrocious presence, its score is unfortunately dragged down. Despite this, I urge you to check this band out if you, like me, generally dislike Deathcore. This band managed to avoid instant deletion (unlike the majority of their fellows) and I will check out their upcoming album, which, hopefully will tone done the suffocating amount of breakdowns. Standout tracks include: Ear to Ear, Festering Fiesta, Articulos Mortis, and Fairy Fay.
I obtained this album for quite interesting purposes. After a scathing MySpace rant delivered by one of the anti-core metalheads, calling more or less every band to become somewhat popular after 2005 "JFAC-Worship," I checked out a few of the bands that were apparently so horrible. One of the better bands I found was Whitechapel.
The influence of Job For a Cowboy and similar bands is evident, but there is also a considerable amount of slam death influences (I know a lot of people seem to have strong opinions about slam, almost as much as deathcore, but it applies), evident on such tracks as "Viscer Exiser." There is also influence from some older Death and Black Metal, as seen a bit on "Fairy Fay."
The band does have 3 guitars and a bass, but truthfully, two of these could be dropped. The only situation the third guitar has any use is continuing the breakdown during the harmonized solo on "Ear to Ear." The band talk about further harmonies, but they are not highlighted on this album.
The drums are a refreshing change from most deathcore, at least as far as tone. No deathcore band would be caught without a double-bass pedal, and most of them have horribly tinny and fake-sounding drums. Whitechapel finally had the common sense to stuff some goddamn blankets in the drum and get a lower, 'thud'-like tone. The drumming itself isn't much different from the rest of the popular deathcore bands these days: Blast, slam, blast, slam, breakdown. Horribly stereotypical, but it goes with the music well.
If you're looking for revolutionary lyrics (though the Jack The Ripper theme is interesting and while gory, at least a little more unique than most bands), experimental music, extreme technicality or a true progressive sound, this isn't your album. But if you're only looking for a little solid deathcore, The Somatic Defilement will not disappoint.
After thoroughly listening to this album, I've decided to change my rating.
Many many people on this site are aware of the mediocrity of the "deathcore" genre. From such acts as Job for a Cowboy, Bring Me the Horizon, Suicide Silence, and other embarrassing excuses for bands. But when it comes to music, Whitechapel are quite the contrary. They are not the typical deathcore band with the scene kid hair and open-string breakdowns. These guys mean business.
The Somatic Defilement is in no way revolutionary or even near groundbreaking, but provides the listener with well made deathcore. It's really hard to say you like a deathcore band but for many death metal fans, this is a guilty pleasure. Now to get to the music. There are three guitarists, but this isn't very noticeable at all due to the lack of solos and chuggy/slam riffs. Rarely, you can hear triple harmonization. Now to the vocals...deathcore is known for its typical shit faux-lows and screams. Whitechapel implement screams but in a way such as Benighted. The vocalist does perform lows very well and has a wide ranged voice. The drumming is typical. Blast and then breakdown and then slam groove.
Many death metal influences are found in this album. Such as the somewhat grind part of "Festering Fiesta" and the brutal death metal influences in "Vicer Exciser". A lot of this shit is catchy, beware. The lyrics are borderline pathological and are pretty cool. This album DOES have many breakdowns. If you can tolerate them, then you will be fine. Other than that, with crushing rolls (The Somatic Defilement) to moshing d-beats (Vicer Exciser) to extreme lows (Fairy Fay). The Somatic Defilement is a satisfying album.
If you can tolerate breakdowns, repetition, and deathcore screams then purchase this album.
Highlights: Vicer Exciser, Festering Fiesta, The Somatic Defilement
Some cool riffs +
Good drumming +
Good vocals +
Cool lyrics +
Lame cover art -
Some lame breakdowns -
Whitechapel - The Somatic Defilement, I've head a lot about this release from friends. Two of them went as far as to claim this as their album of the year. I've listened to the album in its entirety twice now and I'm not impressed.
The general sound here is mid to slow tempo deathcore, wit a heavy focus on slow breakdowns. There is a high variance of vocal styles, unfortunately however most of the vocals are annoying and unconvincing. All of the deliveries reek of Doom EP worship. The Domm Ep influence can actually be heard on most of the album as a whole either directly or indirectly.
The Guitars (all three of them) have a generically heavy sound, managing to be distorted but to sound too sterile at the same time. As for the guitar parts themselves, they are allegedly played by 3 guitars, but it seems to me that a reasonably skilled guitar player could play 60-70% of this without double tracking. I guess the other guitars are there so they can chug extra hard on the breakdowns. In the more melodic parts some a hint of At The Gates worship sneaks in ala The Black Dahlia Murder. Guitar solos? Don't hold your breath, the only thing here is a little toned down melodic cheese in between breakdowns. No solos proper. Also most of the breakdowns lose all of their impact due to being telegraphed out so far that you'd need to be retarded not to predict when they're coming up.
The drum performance here is one of the most emotionally desolate that I have ever heard. Absolutely no individuality or feeling is conveyed at all. Fortunately the drummer often drops down to half time cymbal hits over either 8th notes or just slow speed groove beats, when he does this he is easily ignored.
The bass may as well be non-existent most of the time due to being buried under 3 guitars, but I suppose it adds to the heaviness of a few of the breakdowns. No real complaints here due to simply not being able to here it for better or worse.
All in all, a few of the breakdowns are satisfyingly heavy, and this is also far from the worst deathcore album I've head. Still, there is virtually nothing this album has to offer that hasn't been done a hundred times better. Not recommended to anyone who doesn't have a razor fringe and a septum piercing.