Sound — 6
It was once rumored to be the final effort from the members of Los Angeles alternative and nu metal band Otep, so the largely varietal and experimental performance that was captured on the group's sixth studio album (and final for former label Victory) "Hydra" was embraced by some as an encapsulation of artistic creativity, just as it was disliked or flat out ignored by others for the same reasons. The record included a horizon of ventures ranging from extreme metal to spoken word, which when centered around the electronic-heavy core that now included the band's first album featuring drum programming made for an album that was controversial as it was random. We fast forward three years later and the past is just that for Otep, with a revitalized vision that's encapsulated on their seventh release "Generation Doom." While not the full fledged return to their roots that many envisioned, "Generation Doom" does find a balance between the pop overtones of "Hydra" and the vicious approach that highlighted previous titles "Sevas Tra" and "House of Secrets."
The album sets off on a high octane groove metal start with the opening track "Zero," a song which is propelled from the get go with intense chord progressions, accelerating double bass pedals, and the ever formidable range and execution of frontwoman and namesake Otep Shamaya. While lyrically it isn't the most rewarding listen ("I don't give a fuck/ I don't give a fuck/ I am losing my mind"), the song does come across as though the release valve on her angst has been loosened and anyone who stands in her way had better take notice. There's a recurring theme throughout the course of "Generation Doom" that feeds upon this same energy, whether that's the funk metal character of "Lords of War," the accessible metal attitude of "In Cold Blood," the moderately melodic range of "Lie" or the metalcore rage fest of "Feeding Frenzy."
Thrown into the mix is a rather unexpected rendition of Lorde's "Royals," a song which anyone anywhere has likely been exposed to through it's excessive rotation on the mainstream airwaves and television and still wouldn't know what to expect from Otep's take found here. The chord progression sounds familiar but it's further highlighted by moderate amounts of electronica and drop tuned guitars; still, the most impressionable aspect of this recording is Shamaya's aggressive approach to the main microphone, as she alternates between snarling clean vocals and damning roars during the chorus. In retrospect, it's these same features found throughout the course of the record which compliment the Mad Max-esque persona which Otep dons on the album artwork. Whether it's the hip-hop influences which surface on "Equal Lefts, Equal Rights" or the slightly ambient and rather mainstream metal from "On the Shore" which closes out the effort, "Generation Doom" comes across as a varietal performance through and through yet retains a sense of cohesion through the record's sensible execution and the repeatedly rewarding vocals which alternate from song to song, genre to genre.
Lyrics — 7
Although not always the most graceful lyricist, Otep Shamaya is certainly one hell of a lead vocalist and she's assertive to prove that with "Generation Doom." Perhaps it was the emotions surrounding the change in record label or even the mixed reception to her band's previous studio performance, however you immediately get the impression that Otep has a bone to pick with the world and wants to change their minds. Her range is rather extensive over the course of the album, as well, alternating from melancholic whispers on the aforementioned "On the Shore" to the talk-sung verses of "Lords of War" and the no-holds-barred "Zero." This allows for the more-than-occasional moment where the entire atmosphere of "Generation Doom" takes a swift left turn to maintain a relevance to the preceding track and keeps the album afloat.
Overall Impression — 7
The members of Otep stand confident with "Generation Doom," arguably their most relevant and passionate studio performance since 2007's "The Ascension." While the album does attempt to compress a wide variety of influences and sonic terrains, "Generation Doom" continuously impresses because of its intense execution and blistering vocal refrains.