August 22, 2016 Otep Takes Over Revolution Amityville, NY 8-9-16 w/ Doll Skin & Fire From the Gods
Alternative Metal darling Otep has been making an impact on the scene for sixteen years now. While other acts have fizzled out, Otep continues to push forward in spite of lineup changes, label changes, and overall change in the music industry landscape. In fact, founder, Otep Shamaya, states that after the band’s recent signing to Austrian label Napalm Records, she had never felt more inspired to write music. A feeling she has reportedly not felt as intense since the band’s 2002 debut, Sevas Tra, their 2016 effort, Generation Doom, is quite the powerful piece of music. More than just lip service, the album also is in fact the band’s most highly charted to date, hitting #7 on Billboard Rock Charts.
Armed with the new music, and a lineup that could be the best since Otep’s inception, the band continues their rampage across North America on the Equal Rights, Equal Lefts Tour. A run that takes Otep through various cities through all of July and August, the renowned vocalist, poet, and all around multi-talented artist Otep and her band returned to New York on Tuesday,August 9th. Just a few months after their visit to Webster Hall in Manhattan on May 9th, this time, Otep brought the package to Long Island to visit the village of Amityville to hosting venue Revolution Bar and Music Hall. A early week Metal delight, the latest run would include a slightly different lineup than earlier in the summer, this time featuring newcomers Fire From the Gods and returning Doll Skin. Forging ahead, the band set to bring the “Tribe” out for a night of “Artcore.”
With a generous helping of national acts, Revolution is known to also tack on a list of local acts for some of the most complete Metal shows in the area. That said, a steady pounding of Hard Rock and Metal offerings came at the hands of East Meadow’s Born of Scars and East Yapank’s Despyre. Both unique to one another in style and sound, the two area show supporting acts did a fine job of warming up the crowd. This was prior to Hudson Valley New York’s One Day Waiting who helped prepare everyone for the three acts making up the Equal Rights, Equal Lefts bill.
Recently inked to Rise Records, Austin, Texas’ Fire From the Gods are no strangers to the music business. Having formed for quite some time, the band has resurged with a new lineup, label, and sound to boot. Featuring native New Yorker AJ Channer, whose vocal range impressively moves between rapped verses, throaty screams, and soaring islander-like vocal melodies reminiscent of Skindred, the band also consists of dual Guitarists Jameson Teat and Drew Walker, Bassist Bonner Baker, and Drummer Richard Wicander. Tirelessly touring across the USA the band has built quite a fanbase, and on August 26th, will be unleashing their brand new album, Narrative.
Coming out with intent to move the audience in more ways than figuratively, they launched into their infectious new single “Excuse Me;” a song which features the best of all they have to offer. Channer commanded attention, through both his intimidating stature and booming voice, while the rest of the band plugged away in unison. Making small talk with the crowd, Channer connected with fans of all creed, orientation, and backgrounds by sharing his roots as someone from a working background, struggling to survive. Moving forward, playing a handful of songs from their forthcoming Narrative album, including “Lifeline,” they exited the stage to hang with fans the rest of the night. Channer has been quoted as saying, “I want people to feel empowered when they listen to this record.” That being said, if their live shows are any indication of such, Narrative will certainly flourish in its goal.
Having shared the stage with Otep on their aforementioned early summer tour, Phoenix, Arizona’s own Doll Skin returned on this leg as direct support. Having garnered many fans and much media attention the past year, Doll Skin have a sea of potential at an incredibly young age. Formed back in 2013, the four ladies consisting of Vocalist Sydney Dolezal, Guitarist Alex Snowden, Bassist Nicole Rich, and Drummer Meghan Herring have already shared the stage with Hellyeah, Escape the Fate, and, of course, Otep. Releasing their full-length album, IN YOUR FACE (Again), back on April 15th via EMP Label Group/eOne Distribution, the record was produced by Megadeth Bassist David Ellefson, adding even more clout to the young band’s rise.
Sporting different neon-colored hair styles, in the vein of true Punk Rock, the band appealed to the fans, who responded warmly as they played original tracks such as “Weatherman” and “Furious Fixation.” Charmed by Dolezal, many of the audience members could not help but smile as she introduced her fellow bandmates and their ages (not one was greater than 20), as well as introducing one of their mothers as the “merch girl.” Showing appreciation to both the crowd and Otep for the opportunity, Doll Skin continued on to playing through a number of tunes, showcasing their chops and Punk Rock roots. Much like Fire From the Gods, Doll Skin was eager to meet everyone in the room and encouraged everyone to join in as they chanted during their final number. Those looking for Rock that is more Punk leaning, be sure to check out Doll Skin and see what this fun band is all about.
As the time neared for the headliners of the tour to take the stage, the traditional Otep atmosphere began to take shape. Adorned in orange lights and creepy severed doll heads, the stands and risers on the stage were erected. Having regulated a consistent lineup for the past few years, Otep’s newest release features her long-time Guitarist “Ari” Mihalopoulos and newcomer Justin Kiev on the skins. For live gigs, Andrew Barnes, dressed in semi-face paint, held down the low end as the band’s touring bassist.
As the house lights dimmed and the band’s intro track played its way through the speakers, the crowd’s roar came to life in anticipation of Otep’s return to Long Island in quite some time. Led by Mihalopoulos, the guitarist is a juggernaut to behold on stage, donning a creepy mask while built like a Spartan from the movie 300. Meanwhile, Kier and Barnes fill out the rhythm section nicely and tightly, while of course, the star of the show, Otep, stayed true to her infectious energy and insightful stage presence. Her loyal “Tribe” fans already knew what was coming as the air raid horn pierced the speakers and “Battle Ready” set the crowd into a frenzy with Otep’s constant bobbing and jumping becoming an infectious wave throughout the floor.
Commanding attention and movement, Otep introduced new track “Zero” by encouraging fans to hold up their middle fingers for the vitriolic number. Keeping the adrenaline pumping, the band managed to maintain a nice mixture of tracks from their back catalogue without focusing too much on one release; which is difficult to do for a band this deep into their career to accomplish. In addition to the balance of music, props are an important part of an Otep show and coming out with her spiked billet club, the band moved into “Smash the Control Machine;” a cut which could not ring more true given the current political situation. Thereafter, the band continued to stimulate the crowd, playing through a couple of new tracks including “In Cold Blood” and, of course, “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts,” showcasing the versatility of Shamaya’s Hip Hop approach.
Quite the ring leader, with a style that has evolved over the years, Shamaya brought out her famous pig mask during the hit single “Blood Pigs,” a song which has been a fan-favorite for over a decade. With that, Shamaya thanked everyone for their support, including her band, her security guard, and her brother at the merchandise table before launching into the pummeling, political track “Confrontation.” Having the whole floor moving to the infectious groove, the crowd seemed disappointed to see the band bid farewell, but all good things must end some time. As always, Otep delivered and there is no doubt as they attack each city across America now through August 28th, their followers will be more than eager to come see them when they return again.Photos by: Aintellin Photography