(15 April 2016, Napalm Records)
At The ANC my single-serving friend confessed that he had never heard the music of Otep. It was too easy for me to describe them. “They’re basically a rap-metal band fronted by a really angry lesbian.” And I stand by that statement. To me that sums up the group in twelve words.
It’s also the reason I haven’t listened to them much since their debut Sevas Tra in 2002. It’s not the lesbian part. I love lesbians, just check out my porn collection. And I don’t really mind the angry part. The passion Otep has for her work is what interested me in the first place.
It’s the rap metal part. That is not a genre that has aged well. To be honest, there are a few bands who are considered nu-metal that I still enjoy (Korn, Mudvayne, Kittie, Coal Chamber), but there are many more that I feel have long outstayed their welcome (Again we include Korn, Linkin Park, Mushroomhead, System of a Down). And let’s not even try to name all of the ones that were awful from the beginning (Crazy Town, Limp Bizkit, Saliva).
This was my generations first gift to the world…
…Just let me take a moment to apologize for that.
OK, Now that that’s done with let me point out that a few nu-metal bands have actually managed to stay slightly relevant by doing what all good musicians do: evolve. Korn has branched out into EDM and did MTV Unplugged. Mudvayne ditched the makeup and just kept writing head-spinning prog riffs. And the girls from Kittie to the time to learn to play their instruments well.
In this respect, Otep was a little late to the party. I did like the song “Apex Predator” from her last album, but on the whole I haven’t heard anything worth buying for 14 years. Well, until I started listening to Generation Doom.
That’s not to say that Generation Doom won’t appeal to those fans who still enjoy nu-metal. The album starts off with the “I don’t give a fuck” anthem “Zero” and still has a ton of heavy riffage under rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. “Lords of War” is another standout with it’s chorus of:
“I’d rather be in battle than at peace
I’d rather be a wolf than a sheep
I’d rather be in battle than slaughtered like cattle
The weak can sleep while”
The band gets bonus points for the split second pause that makes you think the CD is skipping. That’s a technique not heard nearly enough in today’s music.
Then you’re in store for something I’ve never heard before. Otep actually sings on their cover of Lorde’s “Royals.” There’s still plenty of rapping and screaming, which we’ve all come to expect, but the real stand-outs to my ears on this album are the ballads like “In Cold Blood” and “Lie.” I feel bad that some little filly broke her heart, but it’s given us some of the best work of her career. Nu-metal always had a short half life, but it’s nice to see that a few of the artists were talented and versatile enough to continue making good music. Who knows, perhaps these songs are timeless enough that some day I’ll put on this album for solace after a breakup.
Now if you’ve been paying attention to this blog for a little bit you may know that my problem with nu-metal was never the metal – it was always the rap. I’ve dabbled in hip-hop music over my life and there have been a few artists/songs that I’ve enjoyed, but on the whole I’ve never considered myself a fan of the genre. Aside from a near lack of guitar or any other prominent musical instrument aside from the drum machine, I’ve always been a little turned off by the rampant braggadocio and misogyny.
So it’s a little surprising that my favorite track on this album is the one with the line “I’ll always get more pussy than you.” I don’t know, I guess a lesbian singing about stealing the wife of a homophobe just has a certain appeal for me. I’ve never been against the gay agenda. I don’t even understand the political issue concerning homosexuals. I don’t really feel that Otep is a threat to my masculinity. I find the opening line of “He called me a dyke, I called him an ambulance” hilarious.
But maybe I just really like the anger.