It’s no surprise given the current political landscape of the world, that our artists, musicians, and other creators are going to be the greatest champions for the people. It’s clear that the systems we have propped ourselves up on for decades such as government, schools, the church, brutal corporations and other institutions have failed us terribly. So, of course, Otep Shamaya and OTEP come back now with a new album to basically put everyone sucking the love out of this world on blast. Hitting ’em where it hurts verbally and bringing the heavy, Kult 45 (Napalm) is just the antidote if you’ve lost your faith about the future.
Otep has been one of the most consistent artists of her generation with eight albums and a few EP’s now in almost twenty years. The last few albums have been at the level of her earliest work such as their debut Sevas Tra, which was ahead of its time in 2002. In an homage to the spirit that forged that album, Kult 45 was made at the studio where that album was born, with a similar production crew and even the microphone that gave the world ‘Blood Pig’, ‘Battle Ready, ‘My Confession’ and more. However, the secret sauce is having the same lineup for several years in a row now. There’s comfort in this new music that feels like a unity and it shows. At a moment when nu-metal and hip-hop influences are seeing a resurgence, mostly from Korn loving hardcore bands, Otep keeps the focus on brilliant missives, and art-rock aesthetics blended with rap-rock grooves. Few other bands can match this intelligence and power together.
The album sequence is like a lava flow, unstoppable. Track after track Otep spits venom at Donald Trump and his cronies, racists, rape culture and white-privilege having rapists like Brock Turner, homophobes, and really all of the zealots leading our world to ruin. There is actually some straight clowning on Trump that is not only smart, feels like a straight-up old-school hip-hop nod rarely heard these days. There is also some empowering words for those feeling marginalized. She is going hard on these tracks nearly non-stop. Singing and screaming less than the last few albums and rapping much more, the words and messages are crystal clear. Tackling the current state of the world one issue at a time, such as #MeToo and the global xenophobia and racism rising are often omitted by heavy music artists. These words and songs are much-needed.
Some of the more blistering tracks like ‘Halt Right’, ‘Molotov’, ‘Undefeated’, ‘Trigger Warning’, ‘To The Gallows’ and more fill up your speakers with rage-filled riffs. There are also the artsy interludes and more mid-tempo tracks. ‘Be Brave’ is the lone ballad and feels like a thoughtful successor to ‘Perfectly Flawed’. While not reinventing the wheel as a band, it’s cool to see the effort put in to not repeat themselves.
The album closes with an insane cover of classic Rage Against The Machine debut album track ‘Wake Up’. Otep and her comrades just kill it. For all the covers the band has ever done, this might be the best, and it’d be great to see this track get the big push at satellite radio that it deserves. It’s a fitting track to end this album.
Welcome back Otep. We received this message and we hear you. Solidarity forever.