Hearing that a band are releasing a reissue of an album which only came out six years ago is always going to prompt the question, why? This was my first question anyway when I heard Whitechapel were doing just this. On paper it seems like easy money and a desperate attempt to cash in on the recent success the band had with their 2012 self titled album, however, after giving the newly remastered The Somatic Defilement a listen, I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt with this one.
Feeling dubious about whether this release was going to be worth the money it must have cost to remaster, I decided to revisit the original album as well and listen to each track on both versions side by side. It quickly becomes apparent that Mark Lewis, who worked with the band on their last album, has done an excellent job on the production. Each track sounds much cleaner, in particular allowing the three guitar line-up to shine through in a way which just wasn’t there before. What is interesting about it though is that it does still have a slight retro feel to it, which for me works with the context of the album.
First released back in 2007 it was a brave move by the band, by releasing their debut record as a concept album. Cleverly the album tells the story of Jack the Ripper and the murders of the prostitutes he committed in the Whitechapel district in London. The title track is still by far the one which stands out above the rest, simply because it’s just a damn good Death Metal song. What makes this album so amazing though is Phil Bozeman’s vocals. The way he growls his way through the lyrics just adds to the brutality and violence in the lyrics and with the remastering it just brings out the agony of the songs with much more of a punch. In terms of the impressive guitar work on the album, Devirgination Studies and Alone in the Morgue showcase the best examples of the triple riff attack by Zach Householder, Ben Savage and Alex Wade.
Although I am still unclear on why the band decided to reissue The Somatic Defilement, they have done an excellent job of bringing it up to the standard of the albums which followed it and reminded the world why they are one of the leading bands in the Deathcore movement. I’m not sure if this release will attract any new fans but for anyone who has followed Whitechapel’s career it is definitely worth a listen.