The Ascension review by Otep

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  • Released: Oct 30, 2007
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (76 votes)
Otep: The Ascension

Sound — 8
The latest Otep album may be named after a Catholic holy day, but it makes perfectly clear that it's a bit on the darker side from the first track. The_Ascension is the latest offering from the Los Angeles-based band, which is led by the versatile vocals of female vocalist Otep Shamaya and explores the seedier, often creepier side of life. While there are times when a few of the songs tend to get repetitive, the band does an effective job of creating an album that has almost an ambient quality that at times feels like a film soundtrack.

The first moments on March Of The Martyrs immediately grab your attention and sound like something straight from The Exorcist. While the band inserts the diabolic sound effects here and there, the song as a whole is pretty solid on it's own. A guitar riff ascends up and down most of the song and gives it a manic feel. Even if Otep doesn't play a style of music you're fond of, March Of The Martyrs will still likely leave a lasting impression. The huge difference in Shamaya's vocal style -- from ladylike and often sounding like '90s artist Poe to diabolic spawn -- is shocking and pretty incredible.

The band is fond of inserting something out of the ordinary into it's songs, and there is absolutely a mood that is created as a result. Perfectly Flawed begins with what could be a dramatic excerpt from a film. An argument is heard softly -- with a climactic crash at one point -- and then the first notes (played on piano) are put into the mix. The track turns out to be a ballad, which is completely unexpected after the chilling beginning. While the ballad might not be the most original or engaging, the band does deserve credit for having the guts for exploring different styles.

One of the standout tracks is Milk Of Regret, which has an exotic introduction, featuring interesting percussive elements from Brian Wolff that sound almost primal. The song eventually picks up, and still manages to include plenty of different musical techniques -- from pinch harmonics (supplied by guitarist Karma Cheema) and double bass pedal to an almost jazz-like breakdown in the middle. Shamaya also shows off her range in Milk Of Regret, and proves she has the talent and grit to compete with some of the strongest frontmen out there.

Lyrics — 8
Filled with religion-laced lyrics, the songs on The_Ascension probably are meant to border on the offensive. Of course, when Shamaya's vocals are doubled with the devilish sound effects, some worried parents might even accuse Otep of being sacrilegious. More realistically, the band is just creating the same time of dark, dramatic feel you hear in the accompanying music.

One of the slower tempo songs called Invisible is laced with various spiritual imagery and is an intriguing, if enigmatic song. Shamaya sings, You're so lovely when you cry; You're so perfect when you lie; You can bring my crucifix; Hold me up to watch me die. While it's hard to say what the song is actually about, there are other lines about pagan moons and preys dying that add to the overall creepy theme of the record.

Home Grown is a uniquely constructed song about domestic abuse. With lyrics like, He hurts me 'cause he cares; He hurts me and it's all my fault, it seems to have a message about the feelings that go through an abuse victim. It's actually a clever song, which features line after line that could easily be associated with the excuses that wife beaters, serial killers, and the like might make. It's a song that really shows the originality behind Otep and is probably the strongest lyrically on The_Ascension.

Overall Impression — 8
A notable addition to The_Ascension is a cover of Nirvana's Breed, which is surprisingly a pretty good version. Shamaya almost has a Courtney Love quality to her voice, which helps recreate that Seattle-tinged sound. The crazy sound effects are kept to a minimum and that was probably a wise decision. While Otep's version will never match the original, the band still is able to do justice to the classic Cobain tune.

Otep may just get too melodramatic for some with songs like Eet The Children (yes, that's eet with 2 e's). That particular track starts out with a sweet, yet very creepy Hush Little Baby intro, and quickly jumps into a distortion and scream-filled, chaotic song. The contrasts in Otep songs are fascinating, but it may be too dark (and at some points gothic-sounding) for some listeners out there.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This album is ****ing ace! So many good songs, especially perfectly flawed, such a nice song! Their best album imo.
    Does anyone count this band as Nu-metal? I sure cant see anything un-talented here....Otep rocks!!!
    Ot3P is by far, my favorite band, and I'm totally satisfied with this whole album. It's amazing from the "Hush little baby" all the way to the last seconds of Home Grown.
    ccrunner505 wrote: This CD was NOT released! Any copies you find are frauds, you wanna read it for yourself go here: The songs that have been officially released by the band are great though, and I'm very excited for the album!
    Read the whole thread next time. It has been officially been released.
    ShredderOmega : I'm gutted... no-one 'round here sells Otep stuff... Music Zone used to but Virgin ran them out of buisiness then sold out to someone else... the place think Greenday are metal now -_-;
    Virgin and HMV just stick everything that has guitars and isnt in the charts in the metal section! like u say even green day and the best cds r like 15! hence y i dont shop at hmv much play and amazon and ebay r a lot better! Though Otep are not hugely well known so Amazon has the new album for 15
    i bought it the day it came out. its a bit more melodic than there old stuff but i warmed up to it and i think the rest of you will to.
    I'm gutted... no-one 'round here sells Otep stuff... Music Zone used to but Virgin ran them out of buisiness then sold out to someone else... the place think Greenday are metal now -_-;
    i cant wiat to get my hands on this aulbum as soon as i heard ghost flowers i knew this aulbum was gonna be a Two-Horns up! but its so hard to find where i live even though this aulbums been out since march
    I got the album last night through various utensils of the dark arts (a.k.a piracy ) and it's quite a feast for the senses. It's a pretty good listen,however,the track titled "Home Grown" is quite disappointing. It goes from professional to adolescent. Very emotional though and no doubt the song is very close to Shamaya's heart. Fave tracks are "Milk Of Regret" "Perfectly Flawed" "Invisible" "Ghostflowers" "March Of The Martyrs" "Confrontation" and "Crooked Spoons." This album is much more primal than the last,resembling to great extent their efforts on "Sevas Tra." There's no middle ground on it. It's impossible to classify this album in this genre or that genre,which really is an excellent thing. Kudos on the album otep.
    This is great music to Bike/Jog to it is so intense that it makes me want to get moving.
    I want it! LOVE OTEP! THEYRE AWESOME loveher voice the music everything justhow the music grabs your attention its like the music is a setting in my mind just SOOO powerfull when is it going to be realesed!!??!!
    otep is cool, i may check this one out, but im not the biggest fan of religious lyrics unless they are in support of religion, sorry, thats just the way i am. plus otep shamaya is freeking hot