With the opening line from the track “Run for Cover”, “You have seven more seconds to decipher your life before my tongue becomes a blade & your brain gets sliced”, Otep
Shamaya herself emphatically sums up her entire body of work that is the 2009 CD release, “Smash
the Control Machine
”. Much more than that: however, she has also mastered a rare trifecta within the scope of this work and that is her voice, poetry, and synchronicity between images and sounds.
The sheer genius of this recording is actually a shared credit with all the members of Otep
, the band, for the album’s single greatest musical aspect – synchronicity. Every word, sentence, and subject is matched up perfectly with a musical piece that induces and enhances thought and emotion. Generally speaking, the palate that the band most draws from would be Nu metal, but from there the range of which each score soars to at numerous times are boundless. So, while there are some tracks that are rooted in Nu philosophy both in musical rhythm (“Head
” and “Sweet Tooth”) and atmosphere (“Kisses and Kerosene” and “Where the River Ends”) others take the liberty of taking off towards a direction that the lyrical themes call for. For example, “Rise Rebel Resist” is perhaps the most metallic, while “Ur a Wmn Now” more appropriately calls for piano and violin to match that song’s somber nature.
As for Shamaya’s vocal style, she has put forth her strongest argument yet for consideration as one of the greatest, if not the most versatile, vocalists in metal. To be clear, she is not merely a singer (although she does that very well!) but a master of tone, pitch, and in the most creative sense – sound. Again
, as with the music, every phrase is augmented by her choice of style and the result is matched perfection. And
she can do it all – scream, yell, whisper, sing, rap, moan, bark, and growl. To say that what she has put down vocally is impressive is an understatement to say the least.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the lyrical content of “…Machine
” is the skeleton of this album’s body. After all, Otep
is an anagram for poet, and here she is as gifted with words as much as anybody else with messages that command and demand attention. Countless creative phrases act like punches to the heart, soul, and brain – the very opposite of sugar coating. Themes like sex (“Where the River Ends”), drugs (“Numb and Dumb”), and rock and roll (“Serv Asat”) are taken on with new, razor sharp angles not entirely original but completely her own. Lyrically, not a single song on this album fails to leave a mark.
All put together, “Smash
the Control Machine
” is a masterpiece. Sometimes what seems disturbing is actually a triumphant break into the listener’s consciousness, to see things from a different point of view, or to question what may be perceived as truth. The greatest artists do this, and with this record, Otep
stakes her claim as one of them. For that alone, this is one of the very best works of metal to have come out in 2009.