Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Otep - House of Secrets

The metal world had their eyes and ears on Otep once their debut album, Sevas Tra, went viral. Not only that, it was the entire nu metal genre that, at the time (especially from 2003-2006), was the driving force in the commercial success of heavy metal. Nu metal bands such as Godsmack, Korn, Linkin Park, Mudvayne, Papa Roach, Slipknot, System of a Down, Deftones, and Disturbed all released some of their most famous or (in some cases) their best material during this time period. Not to mention the uprising alternative metal scene during that time period with bands like Skillet, Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin, Crossfade, Three Days Grace, Cold, Evanescence, Trapt, Seether, and Taproot releasing either amazing or bestselling records. Now, we have Otep on the list during this time period, the band’s second album being titled House of Secrets.

Otep’s follow-up to Sevas Tra was something a lot of people were waiting for. This is not always a good thing because time and time again, a band will release a FANTASTIC debut only to prove that it was a fluke by releasing a record that fails to reach the high expectations the first album set. People expect amazing things from bands that release amazing debuts, that’s why I like it when bands release a really good debut that, although awesome, obviously isn’t the best that the band can do. This is the mistake that Asking Alexandria, Slipknot, Shinedown, and other bands made. They released mind-blowing albums, therefore setting the expectations for the next album so damn high that they’re unable to make it satisfy those expectations. But I’m not saying that those sophomore releases were disasters, some were better than others. Otep’s House of Secrets happens to be one of the better ones. It has pretty much as much anger and brutality that a Sevas Tra fan could ask for, but there are several drawbacks that makes the album less of a satisfier and more of a disappointment.

First off, the arrangement and unique sound of the overall music is well above-average. The music releases some of its nu metal sound and fills the empty gaps with stuff that can remind readers of thrash metal, noisy progressive metal (Dillinger Escape Plan, etc.), certain metalcore sounds (mainly that of Glassjaw, Converge, etc.) and the sound of pure anger that bands like Strapping Young Lad, Burning Skies, and Machine Head. The increase in treble on the album helps bring out the noisier side of Otep’s music as well as giving it a much more intense sound.

The guitar techniques that are used on House of Secrets have branched out from the already-varied set of styles used on Sevas Tra to styles that are more commonly used in the extreme metal genres like black metal, death metal, and thrash metal. The distortion is much less bassy and much, much more high-pitched and has a more metallic and staticy sound. The extremely high-pitched distortion kind of defeats the purpose of the extremely low tuning the guitars have. The fact that the bass has almost completely disappeared from the guitars causes the chugging heaviness that made me fall for Sevas Tra to go with it. The guitar riffs are much more repetitive and seem to focus more on the little experimentation (there’s not much) than on being creative and colorful. By the time the last track is half-way through, the guitar distortion has grown extremely annoying and unsatisfying.

In fact, the entire work that was done at the mixing board causes the whole sound of the album to grow irritating after a couple of listens. In order to validate the dreadful production and mixing job, the guy that produced and mixed Sevas Tra is NOT the guy who did House of Secrets. So with the assumption that the producer either had a stroke or was on crack out of the way, I can now say that the guy who produced this album SUCKS. Greg Wells was not meant for metal production. One can tell that instantly when they see that he’s produced music by Katy Perry, All American Rejects, OneRepublic, Mika, Michelle Branch, and Jars of Clay, he’s not cut out to make contributions to a record as heavy as House of Secrets.

But, as bad as the production is, the music behind it is above-average and stays consistent throughout the duration of the album. The album as a whole lacks in energy except for a couple of tracks that bludgeon the eardrums of the listener, but that’s it. The majority of the album is good, but uninteresting (if that makes any fucking sense at all). The drumming is probably the best thing House of Secrets has to offer to those who want to be impressed by exceptional musicianship. There are a lot of miscellaneous percussion instruments used on this album such as timpani, crash cymbals, extra toms, and one of those giant bass drums.

House of Secrets is a good album, but it has a lot missing. The music itself as a whole is energetic and heavy, but the vocals feel dull and uninspired, as do the other individual musicians. The main letdown is the sound production. Everything is overly distorted (not the cool super metal type of distortion) and gets extremely irritating after a while. But if you’re into nu metal and like some of the angriest music on the planet, this is something that you should look up. If you’re a diehard fan of Sevas Tra, you might like House of Secrets, but you won’t get the same energizing vibe that makes you want to tear shit apart. I would give Otep’s House of Secrets 13/20.