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“Ascension” by Otep

Artist: Otep
Title: “Ascension”
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 3/20/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

California’s own Otep have returned and continue their self-created brand of “Art-Metal” with “The Ascension”; an album that some might consider to be their most inspired effort to date. The album finds the band in top form and progresses well from their previous recording “House Of Secrets” (2004). I felt that there were levels of musical growth displayed here as they indulged the listener in their established formula while at the same time chose to reach for new areas of melody and technique. The effort begins with the blistering “March Of The Martyrs”, which is a track that pummels the speakers with blast beat drumming and razor sharp guitar runs before the lyrical poetry that singer Otep Shamaya is so known for even begins. I have to say that she is an interesting performer to say the least as she growls like Angela Gossow (from Arch Enemy) at most times then suddenly flips to the use of rhymes and poetic verse with a very melodic tonality at others. With “The Ascension”, there is a lot more use of the melodic side and I found this aspect gaining my interest a little more than they were able to capture before. Otep’s members are found endeavoring into some different ground and changing the way things are done as far as the usual expectations in their fans eyes are concerned here. While the sections that are heavy will brutalize you, there are also many unexpected surprises like in the song “Perfectly Flawed”. During this number, we find Otep singing in a purely melodic style on a song that was co-written by Grammy winning songwriter Holly Knight. It is one of my favorite tracks on the album and perhaps also the most out of place for its hard rocking vibe and essence totally lacks the growling and verse found on the other tracks and leads to single potential for the group and a wider demographic appeal.
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