Review: Otep – Generation Doom

Zero – Opening up with a furious riff and sharp screams, this track is like a ride into a mental asylum. It’s brutally heavy in every way, but the lyrics are simplistic and boring. It reeks of a lack of creativity and the vocal approach has a strong rap metal appeal to it. If you’re into rap metal, that’s cool, but it’s not likely to sit well with most metal fans. On the plus side, the song is damn heavy, it’s got some awesome synths, and the aggression of Otep Shamaya is second to none. Not a bad start.

Feeding Frenzy – A pretty basic tune in terms of musical complexity; this track is just heavy enough, but not as intense as ‘Zero.’ Shamaya’s chorus is addicting, but once again the lyrics fall flat and feel uninspired. Overall, ‘Feeding Frenzy’ has some good qualities like its mid-track riffing, the chorus, and the background synths, but it’s not a standout track.

Lords of War – A pretty mellow song, this track starts off real slow and mild for the first minute and twelve seconds. Otep Shamaya’s aggression takes control with a shrill growl, but the heaviness doesn’t last more than 20 seconds before Shamaya drops into a spoken word approach over synths and reserved guitars, bass, and drums. Her lyrics are very political in nature here, criticizing war culture with a Middle Eastern synth in the background. While not the worst song in the world, the song doesn’t truly shine until about four minutes in when the song kicks the heaviness into overdrive, but this only lasts 30 seconds before transitioning into an archival news story regarding starvation and crying children.

Royals – After three songs the album hasn’t quite found its footing and struggles on with ‘Royals,’ which is clear dig at the Lorde hit of the same name, especially antagonistic lyrics presented in a fashion to Lorde. The lyrics are pretty childish in that manner, but it’s a solid track in terms of the music. There’s a decent guitar solo, nothing really to write home about, but it’s something more than what we’ve been given so far, and the song is adequately heavy, but Shamaya’s vocals just don’t resonate well. Honestly, the childish aspect of ripping on a famous pop song is on par with the likes of Insane Clown Posse and unless you’re a Juggalo, that’s not a compliment.

In Cold Blood – Forget metal, we’re going pop on this one! Yes, that’s right, this is a pop rock song through and through. Sure, there’s a bit of aggression and harsh vocals, but this song is so radio friendly it’s not even funny. Honestly though, this is probably the best song so far – how unfortunate to have to admit that. Musically, the song is pretty solid with the piano giving a nice bit of character, but there’s something to be desired with the traditional metal elements. In summary, it would work well as a pop rock song, but falls flat as a metal tune.

Down – Opening with a Middle Eastern style guitar, Shamaya enters with a rap-meets-spoken word vocal approach. Her lyrics touch on personal daily struggles, but feel as uninspired as ever. The heavy, nu metal chorus section reminds us that we are actually listening to a metal record and actually makes the song pretty decent. It’s no ‘Zero’ in terms of its metal elements, but it’s one of the better tracks thus far.

God is a Gun – Opening with a slow piano and whispering interrupted by a sudden assault of thrashy metal…wait, did I just say thrashy metal? That’s right, this is the first pure metal tune on this album since the opening track and it kicks ass! It’s fast, it’s heavy, and melodic, and will have you banging your head hard. After numerous lackluster tracks, it seems like this album is finally turning around.

Equal Rights, Equal Lefts – Just when I thought Otep was going to turn things around and give us a proper metal album we’re dealt another steaming pile of self-serving crap. Honestly, it’s not because of the left wing politics spewing out from my speakers that I have very little praise for this song, but the fact that this track essentially gives us a horrid combination of commercialized hip-hop, a heavy dose of dubstep, and a miniscule amount of metal. That being said, unless you like rap and outlandish synths overpowering your metal you’ll want to hit the skip button within the first thirty seconds. And as with the rest of the album, the lyrics are about as uninspired as they come and the music is just commercialized rubbish that doesn’t belong in metal, period. Honestly, the only redeeming quality is the positive message for oppressed demographics, but if I wanted left wing politics, or right wing for that matter, I’d tune into a news broadcast. Least to say, unless you’re Rage Against the Machine, keep your politics to yourself!

No Color – Hey, another metal track! Well, while this song is pretty heavy and has a really awesome melody to it, around three minutes of this six minute track is either spoken word or theatrics. If this theatrical part at the last minute and a half is meant to tell me a story it’s a waste of energy, I checked out the moment the music ended.

Lie – A standout track due to the abundance of mediocre to outright terrible tracks, ‘Lie’ is actually a pretty good tune. It’s a little light on the distortion and has a strong Nu metal feel, similar to Dope, and is actually a pretty enjoyable song. Having hated Otep Shamaya’s vocals for most of this album this is her break out performance and has me scratching my head as I wonder why she couldn’t stick with what works.

Generation Doom – Brutal, aggressive, and unforgiving, now this is what we’ve been for! ‘Generation Doom’ is a late album gem and should have been the model for the rest of the album. Shamaya’s vocals are frantic and borderline psychotic, while the guitars and drums play right into the fray. This is a mosh-worthy track and hands down one of the best that has me wondering what the band was thinking with half of this album.

On the Shore – The send-off track of the album, ‘On the Shore’ lands somewhere in middle of this artistic mess. The light opening is pleasant, if not outright beautiful, and Shamaya’s singing voice is actually rather pleasing. Though it feels like another radio friendly pop song it’s a competent send-off that’s mellower than it is heavy. With a length of almost 12 minutes I was expecting an epic track, but the actual song is just over four minutes. The remainder is dead air and a theatric scene that couldn’t keep my attention.

Otep’s ‘Generation Doom’ is a confusing, genre spanning mess. It’s overly political, has no real rhythm or flow to it, and suffers from a real lack of creativity, despite a clear effort to be avante garde. While there are a handful of decent to tracks, more than half of the album is commercialized rubbish. Being a music lover, it’s sad to have to say that, but sometimes there are albums that are just so bad that you can’t help but shred it, and that’s certainly the case with Otep’s ‘Generation Doom.’ 4/10

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