Whitechapel

The Somatic Defilement

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Visit a website that discusses the history of Whitechapel (an area on London's East End), and you are likely to find some mention of Jack the Ripper (the infamous serial killer who murdered prostitutes in Whitechapel in 1888). Whitechapel (which can easily be reached via the District Line or the Hammersmith & City Line on the London Tube) isn't a major tourist destination like Piccadilly Circus, but it does attract some foreign visitors who want to see where Jack the Ripper went in search of victims -- and it isn't hard to imagine the members of the band Whitechapel doing a "Jack the Ripper" tour of the East End during a visit to London. Whitechapel are not a British band; the death metallers are actually from Knoxville, TN, but they chose their name because of Jack the Ripper. Never let it be said that death metal bands don't have a fascination with gruesome subject matter, which is quite plentiful on their debut album, Somatic Defilement. This 32-minute CD is full of references to death, murder, and mutilation, but tunes like "Alone in the Morgue," "Devirgination Studies," and "Vicer Exciser" come across as ironic rather than genuinely disturbing. Whitechapel's approach is best described as death metal with elements of technical metalcore; lead singer Phil Bozeman usually favors death metal's stereotypical "cookie monster" growl, but he sometimes detours into metalcore-ish screaming. The influences on this disc range from Carcass (the song titles "Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation" and "Articulo Mortis" are certainly Carcass-like) to the Black Dahlia Murder (another metal band whose name was inspired by a senseless killing of long ago). Somatic Defilement isn't remarkable, but it offers a decent dose of bombast to those who like their death metal with some acknowledgement of technical metalcore.

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