REVIEW: OTEP – “Kult 45”
Metal tends to suffer when the anger from an artist feels contrived, or the frustration that once defined them just isn’t there anymore. Otep are not these kinds of artists. With their new album, ‘Kult 45’, drawing ever closer to being let off its leash, Otep Shamaya and co are as indignant as ever, and they are not afraid to show it.
‘Kult 45’ displays a raging Otep unlike anything you’ve seen from them before, with Shamaya fronting the helm with her animalistic, beast like performance. Never one to beat around the bush, Otep feel like a different breed altogether, showing a complete disregard for the faint hearted as they trample over egg shells and throw all sensitivity to the wind in a vicious, yet refreshing, outcry of disenchantment. Tackling issues ranging from politics to gender equality, and school shootings in “Trigger Warning,” to name but a few, an eerie, sarcastically patriotic start in “Hail To The Thief” briefly introduces the album, before quickly popping an insidious zit that drips and oozes into the unapologetic “Halt Right”. A slide riff dominated by guitarist Aristole, this track gets its hooks in quick and digs them in deep.
Followed by the addictive “Molotov”, Otep are at their groove metal best from the get go. Shamaya and her monster musicians, including the pounding Justin Kier behind the kit, and bass chugger Dreswski Barnes filling out the other half of the rhythm section, defy the confines of headphones and computer speakers in this standout track. Otep’s spitball delivery feels like it shouldn’t fit, or match, what is happening musically, but it does, as the marriage and chemistry between the two blend exceptionally well. As if bearing witness to someone walking on water, when the two come together it surpasses expectations in the best way possible.
A contemporary spin on the Rapcore, Nu Metal influences that heavily inform ‘Kult 45’ could make a lot of fresh blood look like cherry picked boy bands Simon Cowell produced in his spare time. Never more so than in “Shelter In Place” which, despite honing its own unique energy that explicitly calls out the NRA, feels uncomfortably close in sound and structure to “Bullet In The Head” by Rage Against The Machine. A band Otep pay tribute to, covering their track “Wake Up” here. If the blatant R.A.T.M connection can be easily overlooked, and the song enjoyed on its own merit, elsewhere some of the self-confessed, dramatic preaching that laces the lyrical content on “Kult 45” doesn’t brush off quite so easily.
Shamaya has consistently demonstrated her power as an artist through lyrics and poetry over the course of her career. Here, the bite of “Said The Snake” serves as another worthy example. However, disappointing cliches see the momentum dropping “Boss” fall short of those standards. As well as the predictably empowering statements in “Undefeated.” Indeed, while there is a wealth of strong, relevant messages on ‘Kult 45’, some are simply better executed than others.
‘Kult 45’ sees Otep at their controversial best, assessing and tackling the issues swimming around the political pool party that currently harbours their capital. Musically and vocally, Shamaya brings a fire to it all, immediately displayed in the albums leading single, “To The Gallows”. If feeling overly self righteous and a little cliched at times, ‘Kult 45’ still takes a dark, dangerous, and distinguished look at a frightening point in time, by way of a woman, seething with rage, rearing to look the world in the eye and spit in its face.