OTEP. Atavist. Victory Records.

What’s a Hai-Q? Just our clever moniker for a queer-based quickie review (the “q” is for queer, get it?). In order to catch up on the large number of CDs coming in, we put our intern to the test of coming up with some poetry to describe the music. We’ll focus on the smaller releases so you won’t miss out on the bigger names, but we wanted to give these guys a shot, too. In Hai-Q Music Review, we’ll first take a poetic approach to the album and then round it out with “Additional notes.”

We’re testing out this quick version of a CD review with the newest from OTEP. The queer-fronted metal band just performed in Dallas, but also recently released their latest album Atavist.


Passionate fury
Bordered on insanity
Finishes with prose

Additional notes:
OTEP’s latest CD struck me with its mix of angry growling, violent screaming and surprisingly, hypnotizing spoken prose.

Atavist started with a 46-second opener with lead singer Otep Shamaya softly speaking, “Trust no one,” followed by the undeniably religious-undertoned “Atom to Adam.” The entire album refleted religious themes, if you will. “Atom” contained such phrases as godless, God is an atheist and fist-fuck their face / God doesn’t care! Yeah.

Subsequent tracks contained similar fierce intensity until “We Dream Like Lions.” Stepping away from her usual screaming, Shamaya displayed soft, melodic vocals that carried me through a gentle, thought-provoking experience. The chorus We dream like lions / below and above the wooly little lambs /  that look a lot like us was sway-inducing. I wished I had a lighter to wave in the air.

As the mellow, contemplative mood set in, the album shifted back into overdrive with “I Stand Alone.” She screams I’m strange, I’m odd, I’m queer, I’m flawed, I’m one of a kind. I must say that I agreed — in the best way, of course.

Track 8 is one of two songs  I referred to as prose due to their constructs. Haunting music played in the background of “Baby’s Breath,” as Shamaya painted a disturbing picture. Shamaya’s voice, even though singing about a woman murdered by the claw of a hammer in her bathtub, retained a soothing quality that made me wish I could close my eyes and simply listen. I was driving when it played, so I smartly refrained. This was my favorite of tracks on Atavist. It’s so different from her previous work and showedgrowth in style, yet it worked cohesively with the overall dangerous tone of her album.

“Bible Belt,” used the same formula but described a dream of being inside a womb. The belly of a pregnant woman never seemed as mystifying and scary after Shamaya described it. Still, I am of the opinion that I could listen to Shamaya read me a grocery list and I would melt.

The album wrapped up with the resounding scream of Wait! There’s been a slaughter here with OTEP’s last song “Not To Touch The Earth.” The track  closes the album definitively. The album reminded of Shamaya’s vocal talents which are also the epitome of luxury to this metal fan. Some production faltered in her synthesized growls that made it sound like the mic picked up static, but overall, it  didn’t distract too much. I do wonder, however, where a lot of her anger stems from.

Three stars (out of five).