Deathcore to the Core
Hey kids, you like death metal? How about hardcore? Well you haven’t heard nothin’ till you’ve heard some good ol’ American deathcore. It’s equal parts grind, core, death, thrash, and un-showered teenager. Yeah, yeah, we all hate the term, but this is a review for a metal album, so go f*** yourself. Anyways, there are a few bands atop the food chain of the scene that loathes itself, but one would have to be Knoxville, Tennessee’s Whitechapel. After four albums, the veterans of the genre seek to breathe new life into what is probably their least recognized album, but considered by fans to be one of their finest, and purest works.The Somatic Defilement, originally released in 2007, has gotten a facelift for it’s face-melting breakdowns. Hopefully six years is enough time for you listeners to stock up on Febreze and antiperspirant, cause it’s all B.O. and Coors Light from here…prepare for plenty of column A and column B.
First off, The Somatic Defilement really has everything you’d wish for if you’re into gore. For one, it’s actually a concept album that follows Jack the Ripper in a first person narrative on his quest to mangle prostitutes. Metal? Check. Then, you got lyrics like this: “Sodomizing your orifice / Now you crawl away / worthless, wretched foul slut / Open throat profuse bleeding / Pray.” Metal? CHECK. It’s even got a Carcass style intro with some creepy audio samples of Jeffrey Dahmer. And then you got an opener like the title-track, “The Somatic Defilement,” which is a complete riff-fest. It starts like an early Florida death metal album–seemingly campy and verging on buttrock, but then it kicks into some Lamb of God-esque power chugs before going into complete Nile territory. The breakdown (which is also the only reason most listen to anything “core”) in this song is textbook: half-time chug patterns galore and a sweaty dude barking, “Control in my hands–I now shall purge–with the saw I maim–by the saw I live.” Yeah, not bad so far.
From here you’re only subjected to more and more blast beats and references from Grey’s Anatomy (the 1858 medical textbook, not the ABC show with McSteamy). “Devirgination Studies” starts like Gore Obsessed era Cannibal Corpse with pummeling devil’s harmonies before, of course, another classic metalcore breakdown. If you’re looking for anything out of the ordinary, look elsewhere. What you are getting, though, is extremely well executed metal that should please anyone hungry enough for double-bass and gore. For example, the track “Fairy Fay” is kinda more of the same, but everything falls into place so well–Punch in the face from the start, grindcore verse, death chorus, and one of the most immensely heavy core breakdowns that should make any metal purist’s mullet drop. Plus, the song is about hacking limbs off with a chainsaw…what gore addict wouldn’t like this?
The rest of the album is above average for being so heavily inspired by Carcass, Nile, Cannibal, and hardcore in general. However, the moments when The Somatic Defilement is at its most gory and distantly sane, you can’t help but want to Lou Ferrigno cars over on their side, and really appreciate some of the unique genius Whitechapel have on display. “Vicer Exciser” and “Articulo Mortis” really seal the deal for perhaps Whitechapel’s least appreciated work. The facelift (most likely by Ed Gein) in production compared to the original release is leaps and bounds better for those oldschool fans, and a pleasure for new listeners. All in all, The Somatic Defilement is definitely for those of you who can never get enough shrieking about maiming street urchins in a remote tool shed, power-frown breakdowns, and time-signature nightmares.