Otep earns its name from its lead-singer, professed poet Otep Shamaya. According to several sources, the outspoken lesbian politico actually insists that her real name on her birth certificate is Otep, an anagram for poet. This is just the kind of nonsense that dictates her records’ esoteric new metal pseudo-mysticism, masked as genuine darkness, macabre, and strife. In accordance with typically outdated metal tropes, Otep screams really loud to assert their rage and connect with angst-ridden teens. Screaming metal has rightfully tapped this vein for decades but Otep’s last LP, 2007’s The Ascension, is a dreadful attempt.The Ascension has only moments of mild brutality. The most bearable songs maintain a low level of clichâˆšÂ©d screaming and churning (“Invisible,” “Ghostflowers” or her cover of Nirvana’s “Breed”). Elsewhere, laughable opener “Eet the Children” starts with a ridiculous “hush little baby” lullaby before kicking into boring chords and repeated yelps to “eet the children rawwwww!” It seems clear that Shamaya aspires to impress by creating dynamics within songs – taking a hushed whimper and gentle melodies to screaming and chugging conventional metal chords. “Perfectly Flawed” executes this intention relatively well and that’s probably because there is hardly any screaming, save for haunting background noise. Shamaya can impressively execute the whisper-to-howl range necessary to out-goth similar bands like Slipknot, Marilyn Manson or Mudvayne, but too much of this record is easily dwarfed by other contemporaries like Lamb of God, Isis or Metallica.
Even more frustrating is the lyrical content that would seem important to such a politically aware, poet-led metal band. On the downright obnoxious “Noose & Nail” the listener is subjected to these little couplets: “Jesus needs his prescription filled / Buddha’s usin’ too many pills / In volatile bottles marked RELIGION KILLS!” If that weren’t enough, the chorus of endless screams is comprised of “Get down and crawl, crawl!! You fucking insect!!”
Otep and her minions may have been impressive when they debuted in 2002, but she’s going to have to dig deeper for some kind of relevance in a listening base tired of pathetic metal cliches.