We have a birthday in the house! A beast of an album is a teenager now!
Deathcore pioneers Whitechapel released their debut album The Somatic Defilement on July 31, 2007.
The band from Tennessee take their name from the East London district of Whitechapel, where eleven vicious unsolved murders took place between 1888-1891, “the Whitechapel murders”, where some to all of the murders have been credited to the infamous Jack the Ripper.
There were five canonical Ripper victims- Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. Other noted murder victims during the time of the Whitechapel Muders were Emma Elizabeth Smith, Martha Tabram, Rose Mylett, Alice McKenzie, and Frances Coles. A unidentifiable woman’s torso was found completely dismembered and she is just simply known as the Pinchin Street torso. Investigators did not believe this woman was a victim of the Ripper, perhaps another victim of the “Thames Torso Murders” but given that we have never learned the identity of Jack the Ripper nor the Torso Killer, it was possible that the two were one in the same.
Metal bands referencing serial killers and gore and horror movies goes together like chips and salsa, going back to Death’s 1987 debut album Scream Bloody Gore, with songs like “Regurgitated Guts” and “Evil Dead”, and most of the Cannibal Corpse and Macabre catalogs. Cradle Of Filth’s 1998 album Cruelty And The Beast concept album about the “blood countess” Elizabeth Bathory. Even 80’s pop duo Hall & Oates mention Charles Manson and “Son Of Sam” David Berkowitz in their song “Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices)”. Don’t think we forgot Kesha name-dropping Jeffrey Dahmer in her song “Cannibal”, helping to prove that the idea is not limited to the metal-genre.
Whitechapel’s line up on The Somatic Defilement was lead vocalist Phil Bozeman, Gabe Crisp on bass, Kevin Lane on drums, and three guitarists- Ben Savage, Brandon Cagle, and Alex Wade.
So the album is 90% related to Jack to Ripper, with lyrics written in first-person either as the Ripper or a more generic killer who shares similar sadistic sexual motivations of the Ripper. “Festering Fiesta” is about Jeffrey Dahmer and opening track, “Necrotizing”, feature excerpts from an interview that Dahmer did with TV reporter Stone Phillips.
“Fairy Fay” took its title from the nickname given to an unidentified woman whose body was found in a doorway on December 26, 1887 (before the spree “officially” began), but she was never one of the canonical Ripper victims.
And the song entitled “Ear To Ear” speaks for itself.
In the nearly 135 years since the Ripper’s reign, there have been countless theories into the killer’s identity (or identities), investigations, interviews, books, television specials, and tours taking people through the streets and corners of the murders. There is now a tour focusing on the lives of the five canonical victims, rather than the Ripper themselves- The Feminist Jack The Ripper Tour. There are more and more works being published bringing the truths of the lives of women in the late 1800s rather than having blanket statements that “the Ripper just killed sex workers”. Thanks to Gracie and Abbey of Good Mourning, Nancy Podcast for bringing these articles to my attention in their episode on 2001’s From Hell (I cannot recommend their podcast enough).
The Somatic Defilement was re-issued on April 16, 2013 with updated mixes and artwork.
The band has released six more albums since, including a live album recorded in 2015. Whitechapel’s latest release is an acoustic version of “Hickory Creek” from their 2019 release The Valley (talk about sound evolution and it’s really fucking good).