Review Summary: If 'angst' is the name of the game, then Otep Shamaya is one of the game's best players...
Picture the year 2004: Nu-Metal, which was once the driving force of metal in the mainstream has been snuffed out almost completely. Sure, there are little embers that linger on such as Disturbed or Linkin Park but mostly these artists that were once the pioneers of Nu-Metal have either drastically altered their sound, or perished. Otep was one such group that chose to keep most of their Nu-Metal sound while adding some Industrial style sounds throughout similar to that of Korn on “See You On the Other Side”. However Otep remained mostly true to their following and continued to make heavy music while growing from their first release: “Sevas Tra”.
Their sophomore album: House of Secrets finds them somehow in an even darker mode than they were in on their previous release. Immediately after listening to their intro titled “Tortured” you get a taste of how truly frightening and haunting this record is. When you can hear Otep being beaten with a belt on the first track you know that she certainly has some skeletons in her closet, and this reflects perfectly in her lyrics. Listening to House of Secrets reminds me of watching The Shining. Its such a dark album and at times chills to the bone. Lyrically Ms. Otep has improved substansially since album one. On Nein she agonizes: “My life has been a prison, a labyrinth built beneath the mountain of tragedy. I’m a stain on the cloth, I am just an afterthought but I would die for this.” However there was one song that was really hard for me to swallow. On “Buried Alive” Otep screams: “I hate my life!” over and over and over again and what results is an overbearing and all around annoying for the listener. Nothing about the song is interesting and I find myself skipping it almost always.
The instruments also work well here. The guitar work and drumming play well off of eachother and hits you like a punch in the gut. Otep seems to love pummeling their listeners with their sound. For proof of this just listen to their single: “Warhead”. This song serves as a middle-finger to the previous Bush Administration and actually finds them achieving a metal sound that rivals that of many of their peers. Most of this album is certainly heavier than pretty much all other Nu-Metal acts. Another big surprise here is the bass-lines. Mr. McGuire’s bass work on this album truly helps set the overall mood of the album.
Unfortunatley the album suffers from quite a bit of filler. “Gutter” is a poem that lasts one minute long and the short poem doesn’t start until 20 seconds in. Otep sometimes seems to try to hard to be Trent Reznor and the result often serves nothing more than to put the listeners in a state of waiting for the record to pick itself up again. Possibly the biggest disappointment is the closer “Shattered Pieces” where we just listen to Otep whisper things and at times cry in the backround until the disc stops itself (think Korn’s closing track on it’s self-titled: “Daddy”). Wouldn’t a powerful closer have been a better way to go? Shattered Pieces really doesn’t leave us with much to remember.
If you can look past it’s flaws, House of Secrets can be a powerful listen. It’s a depressing listen but the moods layed down here work perfectly and the band did an impressive job creating those tones. There truly is something here for everyone whether it be political, angsty, or the poetic and would ultimately be the last of it’s kind for Otep.