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Otep – Generation Doom – Album Review

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Otep
Generation Doom
Napalm Records
Release Date: 15 April 2016
Review by Alex Sievers

Otep Shamaya: singer, illustrator, poet, activist, author, and Mad Max fashion lover. Just recently, the 36-year-old artist and her band – guitarist Aristotle, drummer Justin Kier, and bassist Corey Wolford, dropped their latest alt-metal offering, Generation Doom. And it’s pretty damned good if you ask me.

While it may be 2016, the emotionally cathartic themes of Otep’s earlier music remain strong for this outing, as do their thrashy, nu-metal tendencies and by that standard, this is just another Otep record. But it just so happens that much like pizza and sex, when this record is bad it’s still pretty good, and that is more than you can say for most bands.

Seriously though, I think that despite a few missteps this is one of the better records this Cali outfit has to their name.

See, it’s the more unconventional songs that really do steal the show here; something that I find is very true about their back catalogue (but let’s not forget that Drunk On The Blood Of Saints was/still is an absolute jam). Tracks like the epic and beautiful On The Shore, the ever-changing Lord Of War, the sporadic God Is A Gun, the Kanye West turned Korn banger Equal Rights, Equal Lefts and the kickass cover of Lorde’s Royals (oh yeah, you read that last part correctly) are easily the best of the bunch here. I also love the plethora of samples, SFX and spoken word used at the end and start of most tracks in order to help the record flow better – and the flow IS glorious. Not a lot of bands use samples like this these days and if they do, it’s never quite to the extent or the strength that Otep have shown on this record.

What holds this album back from being a truly fantastic listen are the more generic and shall I say… unsurprising songs sprinkled throughout the record. Songs like Down, Zero, Feeding Frenzy and the fast but unimaginative title track brings it all down for me. Those songs aren’t terrible like say a severe case of gastro. They are more like a slight headache – not the worst, but you’d rather go without it in favour of something better.

As for the other songs, the radio worthy anthems of In Cold Blood, Lie, and No Colour grew on me after a little while and Shamaya’s truly sensational and character-filled vocal range (both her cleans and screams) and her dark, metaphorical-meets-real life lyrical content really elevate these songs to the next level. Well, except for when she continually screams angsty, generic profanity, like in the title track and on Zero. While I’m sure that let out plenty of inner rage at the time of recording, both of those moments are pretty f*cking cringe-worthy.

While the album’s title sounds like a Fantastic Four spin-off comic book, and the varying musical changes throughout the record will throw the more typical metal listeners off, Generation Doom is by long and far one of Otep’s better albums.

 

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