Review Summary: Bringing that beat back like it's 1999.
Is this really where heavy music is heading？ Greta Van Fleet recently blew up with what is essentially a shameful plagiarising of Led Zeppelin – right down to Kiszka’s mannerisms and visual style. The unnerving thing about all this isn’t the band itself but how the rock community has welcomed their attempts with open arms. Nobody seems bothered by the band’s regurgitated efforts which lack even an iota of innovation. I don’t judge what anyone listens to, but what are the repercussions for enjoying this type of music？ If Greta Van Fleet is anything to go by, it shows it’s okay to steal an already successful template from one of your favourite pedestalized legends, boycott one’s own artistic abilities, and processed to feed a new generation a sound fully explored 40 years ago. These lads are good musicians too – they’re fantastic at what they do – but where’s the challenge on not only their own abilities but the boundaries for the genre itself？ It’s a dangerous time for mainstream heavy music. We’re at a stage where creativity runs a tight rope of veering full circle on itself rather than pushing forward – further obscuring heavy music’s relevance in the current climate.
Which brings us onto Otep, a NU-metal unit that’s been around the block a few times but still proves, regardless of the shaky times rock’s history is in, there’s still some level of skill involved when ripping off your chosen sounds. Greta Van Fleet does a serviceable impression of Led Zeppelin, Otep does quite the opposite. To give you the most primitive explanation of what Otep’s sound is like, imagine Zach de la Rocha joining Limp Bizkit. Now imagine that sound devoid of any redeeming or interesting qualities and you’ve got Kult 45
. “Halt Right” is a perfect representation of its peers, a wrecking ball of appropriation as its opening riff slaps you in the face with a Limp Bizkit staple of swinging and bouncing grooves, Durst styled chanting shouts of ”fight!”
, a verse that goes on to use Tom Morello’s palm-muted scratches and then finishing off with “Bullet In The Head’s” iconic chorus. It’s almost admirable “Halt Right” is the opening track here because it’s an earnest way of letting you know what you’re getting yourself in for from the very start. Every square inch of this album is antiquated and uses some sort of ideas from NU-metal’s past or the aforementioned bands classic records. It’s the textbook NU-metal sound: mid-tempo drums, bouncy hip-hop basslines and guitar effects that attempt to add an edgy undertone to tracks, all blanketed underneath Otep’s try-hard rap performances. It doesn’t help the case when Otep’s voice sounds like a carbon copy of de la Rocha’s. Every aspect of her vocal takes embodies de la Rocha’s in some way; be it the spoken word introductions to “Said the Snake” and “Cross Contamination” or the gruff, bassy attitude on “Shelter In Place” and “Molotov”. Then there’s the Durst sung offering of “Trigger Warning”, which blends the monologue stylings of Limp Bizkit’s “A Lesson Learned” with the angsty approaches to “It’ll Be Ok”.
It’s hard to really base anything off its own merits when it lacks even a fraction of protruding character. However, I’ve only scratched trivial errors so far. These are flaws that lack soul and distinction, a soundscape that’s come from the dilapidated NU-metal manufacturing plant of 2005. It’s by and large inoffensive songwriting that brings an eye-roll from its lazy construction than the ability to outright draw any real reactions from its listener. No, the real problems come from Kult 45
’s run time. Three tracks in and the album comes across cute, but by the time you get to the 14th and final track you’ll be drained from its overt influences and monotonous writing. Then there’s the mood shifting and lack of consistency: going from political spokesperson with “Said the Snake” and “Molotov”; to generic diss-gangster on tracks “Undefeated” and “Boss”; to a vulnerable and stripped bare women on the ballad “Be Brave” -- not forgetting the arbitrary spoken word track of “Sirens Calling”. It’s a multifaceted experience for all the wrong reasons and it’s a shame because what she talks about resonates strongly in today’s world. I don’t doubt her sincerity about gun legislation in America, her struggles as a female artist in the metal community or racism and white supremacy, but it’s hard to take these topics seriously when it’s surrounded by an anaemic and tattered sound palate. I’d struggle to even recommend this to a fan of NU-metal just because of how uninteresting it all sounds. It literally sounds like a dime a dozen record made during NU-metal’s commercial years and would have been quickly forgotten about then. As it stands today, it’s got heart and very little else other than to feed the kindle on this dangerously lazy plagiaristic period we’re currently sifting through.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: http://www.oteploves.me/