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Otep-Sevas Tra Review

By Buckchucknarles 01/25/2003

Entertain Your Brain’s latest critic, Buckchucknarles, is coming to you with a review of the latest CD by a band called Otep.  I hadn’t heard of them before he played me some of their stuff, but they’re pretty decent in my opinion.  Bucky boy specializes in metal, so look forward to other reviews in the future by a bona fide metalhead.  Here is his review:


I would like to think that I know enough about good and bad metal to write an honest review on this album.  My experience might include 400 plus hours of live shows, everything from radio rock to death fests.


I am 26 now, but I started to listen to heavy metal probably like ten or eleven years ago.  I am not talking about Metallica or Megadeth; I mean my first albums that I can remember for sure were Prong's Cleansing, Helmet's Meantime, and Bolt Thrower's The IVth Crusade.  Ever since I have been searching for perfect metal bands, and sometimes they come along.  Examples may include Slayer, Pantera, and Max Cavalera projects (Sepultura, Soulfly, Nailbomb.)  Most recently, I’ve gotten into bands like Slipknot, Meshuggah, Chimaira, Coal Chamber, or anything just short of all out death metal.  In comes Otep, with nothing to fear from those bands.


On January 13, 2003, The New York Times released an article with Otep's name within, titled, "West coast bands are Re-energizing Hard Rock."  I am not surprised; the Los Angeles foursome consists of what they themselves refer to as three musicians and one poet.  The drummer, Moke, claims to use a multiple style infusion to make up the unbelievable percussion of the band.  Evil J, the bassist, has over nine years experience with piano and was in a death metal band for six years.  On guitar is Rob, with sixteen years under his belt, practicing and playing a really heavy axe.  Now for the coup de gras…the whole project is beef-laden with the vocals of Otep Shamaya, a female (the rest of the band is male.)  Quoted as “...being a slave to the music...,” her background is more unknown and covert.  The impression I get is that she was pretty unhappy and wanted an outlet.


Their album, Sevas Tra, is a second release by this very young band on the scene.  In 2000, Capitol Records discovered them, and they released their first project, an EP called Jihad.  After some tour dates in 2001, rumors spread about the cannibalism and mystical arts performed on stage helped push their image through the underground and into the realm of the known.  Late in 2001, Terry Date accompanied Otep in producing their first full-length album.  With two months to write the music and vocals, they released Sevas Tra in the summer of 2002.  The album reached number 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers list, which is a chart of albums that make it just short of the top 100 of the Billboard 200 chart.  I have never heard the EP by Otep, but I have to say that I CANNOT get enough of this CD.


With her “in pain” style leading into the most guttural but skilled growling vocals, this is what metal fans crave.  Not whiney like many bands today that just sing and bark, but gripping, tooth-grinding riffs and drums that drop the jaw.  It starts out with a teaser track with Otep talking about some sadness, and it continues into some ideal chunk and rhythm combined.  Track three, called “T.R.I.C.,” which is also the last track on the Jihad EP, starts with a big bang and unleashes the remarkable flow ability of Shamaya.  “My Confession” slows it down a bit, but it still hits hard.  One thing I really look for on any metal album is a dope riff that makes you want to rewind and play it again like two or three times every time the CD plays.  “Menocide,” track eleven, brings it with force deep into the track, so get ready.  Some tracks aren't even songs; they are so we can feel the pain and suffering that leads to the web of words she uses to write every song.  No simple matter are the lyrics on Sevas Tra, but they are impressive and complex.  However, the music behind every poem couldn't be any more talented and a**-kickin’ than what is available to us on this CD.  Track six, “Battle Ready,” will hit you like a ton of bricks, pick you up, and hit you again.  How will they ever follow that act?  According to Otep herself, she says that Sevas Tra is the story of the agony of life and the sweet surrender to ones’ own demons and then victory through self-destruction.


I have never heard a single on the radio or seen a video on television for Otep.  I do know that they were on the Ozzfest tour.  A strong spot on the second stage gave them recognition on the metal scene, but there are no tour dates right now for the band.  On January 10, 2003, they won the award for Best Newcomer at the Online Metal Awards.  The members of the band say that they like to interact with the audience after a show.  That is great; who doesn't want to meet people that make music that just hits it right on the nose with every song.


In general, Sevas Tra by Otep in my opinion is one of the absolute best arrivals in metal since the new millennium began.  No idea on when another album will surface, but I hope it is soon.  I definitely recommend picking up this album if you like to head bang to some bad-a** s**t. SICKNESS.  PERFECT.  LOVE IT.


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