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Smash the Control Machine

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Album Review

With the return of original drummer Moke and guitarist Rob Patterson, both of whom last played on 2002's Sevas Tra, for Smash the Control Machine, Otep seem more determined than ever, but with a dated sound rooted in crunchy nu metal and alternative metal from the mid-'90s, and a proclivity for extreme melodrama, it might be hard for listeners to take them seriously. As far as reference points go, Korn are an obvious touchstone here, especially in vocalist Otep Shamaya's delivery, which directly mirrors Jonathan Davis' myriad voices. While growing more comfortable with her range, Shamaya bounces from pseudo-raps to squelching metal yelps, and even tries a breathy ballad along the way ("Ur a WMN Now"). Lyrically, she also takes more risks. Influenced by her time doing poetry readings on HBO's Def Poetry, she confronts society's ailments head-on, addressing the overabundance of pill-popping, media brainwashing, and apathetic behavior in American culture. Of course, it's not all so provocative. When she gasps the line, "Take my temperature baby/This is what you taste like," it comes across more creepy than sexy. Of course, as an album that will probably get heavy rotation in the Hot Topic stockroom, creepy might be exactly what she and the band are going for.


Formed: 2000 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A hard-hitting, multifaceted, female-fronted metal outfit from Los Angeles, California, Otep got their start in late 2000, when singer/band namesake Otep Shamaya brought her Marilyn Manson-meets-Kim Gordon style of singing to a crew of musicians known only as Rob, Moke, and eViL j. The foursome began gigging around Los Angeles and scored a deal with Capitol solely on the strength of their live show (they'd not yet recorded a demo), releasing the Jihad EP the following year. Rumors of cannibalism...
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