Written By: Edward Ramjuse
Formed back in 2000, Los Angeles, California based band Otep has traveled quite a journey over the past sixteen years. Led by Vocalist/Lyricist/Activist Otep Shamaya, the band has quickly gained attention; they were able to ink a record deal before even recording a demo. Furthermore, they were even invited to perform at Ozz-fest by Sharon Osborne after just a bundle of live shows. Almost unheard of, the band would go on to make big impressions with 2001’s debut EP, Jihad, followed by 2002’s debut full-length album, Sevas Tra. While genre is often limiting, Otep’s style stood out from the pack, combining elements of Gothic Metal, Hip Hop, Alternative Metal, Death Metal, and so much more. One could say the band’s ability to create something truly unique is what has kept Otep relevant through the years over the course of five more studio albums following Sevas Tra.
While there had been record label changes and lineup changes, through it all, Shamaya kept Otep alive and now in 2016, returns with the band’s seventh overall studio album, entitled Generation Doom. An album which almost never happened, following the release of 2013’s Hydra. Luckily Shamaya felt her musical and creative side start flowing out of her again, so Shamaya and her supporting cast of Ari “Aristotle” Mihalopoulos (guitar), Justin Kier (drums), as well as Corey Wolford (bass) entered the studio to record Generation Doom. A lineup she states is “the most talented group of musicians I’ve ever worked with. We are a family. These are my brothers in arms,” Generation Doom is twelve tracks of intense music only Otep can offer.
Otep turns out more of her rap skills on “Down” and “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts“, the latter being perhaps the most confrontational song Otep’s yet slung out, and on “Down” Shamaya blends some Karyn Crisis-esque gruff into her own spiraling repertoire. “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts” is dropped as a gangbanger’s throw down, but Otep gives even EMINEM a run in the shock value department: “She seemed so sweet I had to taste her…let’s get one thing straight, I’m not. Sex is art, I’m Basquiat. Love is love, it can’t be stopped, so go fuck yourself ‘cuz it’s all you got.” Whether you find it repulsive or liberating, Otep won’t back down, whether the topic is sexuality, religion or race, the latter fleshed out through “No Colors“. “God is a Gun” is one of the heaviest, grind-happy numbers on the album. Here Shamaya expressed her craving for same-sex flesh while simultaneously rejecting religion with more poignancy than any blustery hetero male. Her unhinged warbling and shivery peals, while extraordinarily enticing, are unnerving, even if you swing her way.
Both traditional Hard Rock based songs, Shamaya sings about lost love and betrayal while displaying a vulnerability that can be felt deeply through her beautiful voice. This is before the brutal attack of extreme Heavy Metal vocals and instrumentation on the album title track “Generation Doom,” which will no doubt provoke listeners to head bang. An intense listen all the way through, “On the Shore” is a ballad that provides beautiful guitar solos from Mihalopoulos. As the album’s conclusion, Otep’s voice is breathtakingly gorgeous as it provides a melodic story that will truly connect Otep fans. Winding down with Shamaya providing a spoken word exit, Generation Doom wraps up as a masterful concept piece.
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