Otep Shamaya says, "Art is war." The singer for her namesake L.A.-based metal-fusion band, Otep, considers herself a revolutionary and makes art catharsis via visceral screams and songs that sear the ears like hot grease. Her lyrics are laden with apocryphal poetics about religion, politics, love and loathing; she's a big fan of Jim Morrison, and his influence emerges in lines like "Here in the serial killer holy land/It's not over" ("Hooks & Splinters") and "Palace of madness and sadness" ("Communion"). Despite more lineup changes (bassist eViL J is the only other remaining original member of the band) and a label change (the band took its latest album, The_Ascension, from Capitol and on to Koch, which finally released the record on October 30), Otep sounds better than ever. The_Ascension is filled with fierce, provocative tracks (like the raging "Eat the Children" and the pummeling number "Crooked Spoons") but balanced with a few more ornamented, sophisticated numbers, most notably the piano-laced power ballad "Perfectly Flawed." Shamaya refers to the band's live performances as "ritual," incorporating symbols like severed baby doll heads and decapitated pig craniums into the experience. Otep shares the bill with Hellyeah, a band that features Greg Tribbett of Mudvayne and, of course, Vinnie Paul Abbott of Pantera and Damageplan, making this show a sure shot for sore necks.
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