Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Otep - Sevas Tra

How often does a band get a record deal without any demos, EPs, or anything? Otep played Ozzfest AND inked a deal with Capitol Records solely on the indescribable brutality and power of their live performance. After releasing their first EP in 2001, Otep quickly got together and buckled down to write, record, produce, and release their long-awaited debut full-length in 2002. The album, Sevas Tra, when read backwards, says “Art Saves”. Although the majority of the nu metal bands out there follow the same basic traits without feeling the need to do much experimentation, Otep is definitely one of the outcasts. Being one of the darkest and most disturbing bands in the genre, releasing six albums, and headlining shows around the world, we all go back to Sevas Tra, which is where the journey began.

No one can deny that this is one of the most disturbing and heaviest nu metal albums ever crafted. People at the time were thinking Mudvayne, Drowning Pool, and System of a Down were the heavier nu metal bands. Come 2002, the only other nu metal release heavier than Sevas Tra was Deftone’s Around the Fur. As much as I could go on and on about the history behind this piece of heavy material, this is an album review, and I’m here to tell you what the fuck you’re getting yourself into, not give you a history lesson.

The guitar work is impressive considering how boring most nu metal guitarists are on their first albums (i.e. Disturbed, Godsmack, Papa Roach, Saliva, etc.). A great mix of tremolo picking, ambient chords, and some of the absolute heaviest chugging the world has ever heard. The heaviness of the guitars is mainly due to the distortion. The distortion has almost no treble, a bit of mid-range, and a shitload of bass (that’s an understatement). The metallic crunch of the distortion, when added on with the sound of the other instruments not only creates a unique and unusual sound, but also one that never gets old. Many nu metal bands will find a guitar distortion that they like and use it over and over and over again, only to have other bands start to overuse the exact same type of distortion. I have yet to hear another metal album with guitar distortion identical to this.

Because of the strong hip-hop influence that nu metal has, drums are extremely important to a band’s sound. A nu metal band’s drummer has to be creative, groovy, and unique in the same way that a rap record needs to have creative, groovy, and unique beats (I prefer when the beats are done with an actual drum set). Also, like all hip-hop, staying on tempo is the number 1 priority of ANY nu metal drummer. And I’ll tell you what, this fucker couldn’t do a better job at staying on time than he does on Sevas Tra. Some of the more abstract tempos that appear in songs like Blood Pigs and Sacrilege are not only nailed with precision, but also with power that gets everybody moving. I can tell that the drummer on this album has at least some sort of a hip-hop background because of some of the patterns he plays and his ability to pound out funky beats with literally indescribable brutality. And the number one most important thing in both hip-hop AND nu metal is the bass.

Nu metal bassists tend to be really good. Even nu metal bands that I despise have some pretty fucking sick bass players (i.e. Limp Bizkit). Nu metal bands like Korn, System of a Down, Mudvayne, Rage Against the Machine, and Slipknot have some of the best and most notorious bassists in heavy metal! Is the bassist for the band Otep any good? Not yes, but HELL yes. Not only is he the man behind those funky tempos and melodies, he’s also the man behind one of the darkest, most disturbing, and heaviest songs I’ve ever heard in my entire young life, Blood Pigs. The indescribable twisted and fucked-up brutality this song releases unto the listener is led by the bassist and the mix of funky riffs and slamming breakdowns he does. What he plays not only grabs the listener by the throat, it also fucking tears it to pieces. This bassist is awesome. Yes, I’ve heard plenty of better bassists than this guy, but his creativity and ability to initiate brutality exceeds the abilities of most.

Sevas Tra is one of the heaviest nu metal albums ever produced. Being much closer to hip-hop than most other nu metal records, Sevas Tra provides the listener with brutality that will tear you to pieces. Although all the brutality and catchiness is great, the actual music quality behind the album and the arrangement is outstanding and exceeds expectations. I would highly recommend this album to pretty much anyone that loves heavy music. I would give this album a rating of 18/20.