November 8, 2007

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Otep, The Ascension
Koch Records, Oct. 30
It’s odd that Otep Shamaya, after being freed from her Capitol Records contract and handing her life over to the world’s biggest indie, chose to skip the glaze-eyed spoken word babblings that put her on the map. Not completely, mind you; she goes into a Saw-vs-martians stream of consciousness soliloquy for the entire length of the hidden track, and she’s still the spookiest person in metal, what with her Lucia Cifarelli-like puma-screeches and beware-the-nutty-chick hiccups hot-linked to every song. But this is a comparatively straightforward screamo/nu-metal exercise, which in turn puts the burden on her to make her (always creepy) poetry heard over fast-chugging KMFDM guitars and double-bass breaks; sometimes it works, sometimes you miss the wigged-out spontaneity. Music-wise the band remains edgier and more slickly produced than anything the Metal Bladers are knocking together between band-member firings; in “Confrontation” she makes a play for the Evanescence kids, blending goth and sheer hardness with riffing you might hear from Megadeth. Similarly, “Noose & Nail” throws its Amy Lee pomposity into an industrial-metal blast-furnace in time to prevent it from becoming completely useless. BEric W. Saeger