Otep – The God Slayer (Album Review)

An important part of the Alternative Metal scene for over two decades now, Otep is a band with a long history. Formed in Los Angeles, CA back in 2000, they immediately drew attention to themselves with a powerful stage presence and overall sound. A factor which resulted in their invite to 2001’s Ozzfest, amazingly they were signed onto Capitol Records without even as much as a demo. Clearly a bold move from a major record label, Otep proved to be a risk worth taking, going onto massive success with both 2002’s Sevas Tra and 2004’s House of Secrets. From here Otep continued along a lengthy journey of music making stops at several labels along the way, shifting lineups here and there, but still, always delivering intensity all the way through 2018’s Kult 45.

However, it has been five long years since Otep released any material. The largest span of time in which they have not released new music, with each of their previous records put out two or three years apart from one another, perhaps it was time for the band’s leader, Otep Shamaya, to recharge. A champion of free speech, Shamaya is an artist difficult to ignore. Outspoken and passionate, she has never minced words about herself and her beliefs. Important to point out, at the heart of Otep’s music there are various political and societal criticisms addressed. Factors some might see as divisive, in truth, no matter which perspective you are coming from, you should always have an open mind to hear others. A principle which goes back to what Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote in 1906’s The Friends of Voltaire stating, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” everyone should remember these ideals in order for us to protect critical thinking.

Nonetheless, Shamaya continues to be a beacon of vocal freedoms, and in 2023 returns with the brand-new album The God Slayer. Released on September 15th through Cleopatra Records, it finds Shamaya reinvigorated, offering an interesting mix of original Otep tracks and highly distinctive covers. A different approach, the original tracks make up four (one of which is the intro) of the twelve tracks that are The God Slayer. Perhaps dispositioned to some listeners, objectively it works well, because Shamaya puts a very unique spin on a pretty eclectic mix of well-known songs. So, this factor in mind, the album as a whole is 100% original in every facet of the word.

All considered, The God Slayer is an album that finds Otep as potent as ever. For example, Otep new entries such as “Ostracized” have a rawness that cuts very deeply. Featuring guitar work from Kiki Wong, this song unites thrashy sounds with a beautiful guitar solo that really sticks out. On the other end of the spectrum, “Exit Wounds” is a brief, yet dark Hip Hop vibed piece, while the album’s namesake track gives you even more dark poetry that is nothing less than haunting.

And with these, you have the bundle of covers, which range anywhere from renditions of Eminem’s “The Way I Am,” Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me In A Crown,” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U,”  to The Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” Really all over the map, it shows the borrow taste of Shamaya, and it is seemingly boundless. Furthermore, while she puts her mark on all tracks involved, standout renditions include “The Way I Am,” A Perfect Circle’s “Pet,” and Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissing.” Although this is truly dependent on the listener’s own tastes, either way, everyone will find something to appreciate in how each song is reconstructed in the world of Otep. A great listen well worth checking out, Cryptic Rock gives The God Slayer 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Otep – The God Slayer / Cleopatra Records (2023)
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