“He called me a dyke, I called him an ambulance…”
Otep Shamaya never was one to wimp out. Call her out on her music, call her out on her art—you’ll get an earful. Call her out on her sexuality, well, you’ll get yours handed to you, gauging her virulent “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts” from her band’s seventh album, “Generation Doom”. Mad Max and a jilted relationship fuels Otep Shamaya through twelve heated exercises of frazzled acrimony. Par for the course on an OTEP joint, naturally. Exerting far more musical variation this round than much of her previous catalog, “Generation Doom” sets Otep free as much as it unleashes her inner Furiosa.
Otep divvies out more F-bombs per capita toward a collective hate list on the SLIPKNOT-driven “Zero”. Drummer Justin Kier is satisfyingly turned loose with thrashing-mad blast beats as Otep hits an insane amount of vocal ranges within her unrelenting “zero fucks given” tirade. Peeling off a horns-worthy, protracted shriek at the end of “Zero”, Shamaya resumes her fuck-you parade through the pounding “Feeding Frenzy”. Whatever you constitute as more agitated throughout “Feeding Frenzy”, the flurrying grooves, Ari Mihalopoulos‘s stocky riffs or Otep‘s manic ranting, the song rages to a bizarre close, setting up the systematic politico rap of “Lords of War”.
“Lords of War” isn’t your typical protest cut; this one is more in league with PUBLIC ENEMY‘s self-empowerment coercions, yielding, in this case, agro metal plugs. Otep fumes, “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 I scream.” Scream she does, as if the world is collapsing around her, and gallingly, she’s the only one to witness it. Cleverly tucked behind this track is a bellowing, crunky cover of LORDE‘s “Royals”.
“In Cold Blood” is one of OTEP‘s most accessible songs to date; if, that is, this band could ever be taken as accessible. Shamaya dispenses with, for the most part, her hard vocals in favor of an affective croon and tender whispers in an emotive bout of bloodletting. Even while conveying absolute madness on the bridge, “In Cold Blood” has alarming catchiness with its instantly accessible choruses.
Otep turns out more of her rap skills on “Down” and “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”, the latter being perhaps the most confrontational song Otep‘s yet slung out, and on “Down” Shamaya blends some Karyn Crisis-esque gruffs into her own spiraling repertoire. “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts” is dropped as a gangbanger’s throw down, but Otep gives even EMINEM a run in the shock value department: “She seemed so sweet I had to taste her…let’s get one thing straight, I’m not. Sex is art, I’m Basquiat. Love is love, it can’t be stopped, so go fuck yourself ‘cuz it’s all you got.” Whether you find it repulsive or liberating, Otep won’t back down, whether the topic is sexuality, religion or race, the latter fleshed out through “No Colors”.
“God is a Gun” is one of the heaviest, grind-happy numbers on the album. Here Shamaya expresses her craving for same-sex flesh while simultaneously rejecting religion with more poignancy than any blustery hetero male. Her unhinged warbling and shivery peals, while extraordinarily enticing, are unnerving, even if you swing her way. Toward the end of “Generation Doom”, Shamaya seizes the opportunity to lash out against what can be construed as a sour relationship with “Lie” and “On the Shore”. All this while telling the world to get bent once again with the rampant, hardcore-driven title cut. Otep‘s spoken word grievances amidst pig grunting following “On the Shore”‘s gorgeous and cathartic sway is, frankly, as disconcerting as it is deeply personal. The warning is thus issued.
“Generation Doom” is a nasty, nasty record, even by OTEP‘s standards. It’s also one of the band’s most focused efforts. Groove being one of the album’s biggest assets and Otep Shamaya‘s whirligig pitches being the primary attraction, “Generation Doom” is freaking killer. Shamaya is the arrogating, spastic leader of her own posse of War Boys as they plow down their own Fury Road to the tune of their malicious diatribes. Together, the band distances itself on “Generation Doom” from the nu-metal stigma that’s been more a roadblock than an advantage.