Ahh, where do I even begin? Otep has been a band that I, admittedly, have never given the time of day; however, that changed today. I was well aware of the band's name, that they're a nu-metal act and that they have several (five) releases under their belt, but I still had no idea of what exactly I was getting myself into. The band's newest release, Hydra, has a release date of January 22nd, 2013 through Victory Records. If you like your music to be full of energy, technical instrumentals and aggressive vocals, this is not the album for you.
The first thing that I noticed on Hydra is that the instrumentation is extremely simple. I guess it sounds okay, but there isn't very much to keep the listener's interest. There are several breaks between choruses and verses and, at times, there is no instrumentation at all. Sometimes it lasts for ten or fifteen seconds and you may hear a chord ringing out, while other times Otep doesn't even utilize their guitars, bass or drums for an entire track. The only track that is remotely impressive instrumentally is "Hag." The drumming is solid and there's a pretty cool bass solo that can be heard near the end of the track.
The harsh vocals heard on Hydra are decent at times, but for the most part, they're pitchy and ear-piercing . In this case, it's not a good thing at all when I say "ear-piercing" because it's way too overpowering. The talking/whispering puts off a very eerie vibe – just like the rest of the band. I'm sure that's what Otep was going for, but it just doesn't sound very good at all. The lyrics on tracks like "Hematopia," "Quarantine," "Livestock" and several others are entirely talked/whispered and it makes the track drag on. If you also take into consideration what I mentioned about the lack of instrumentation at times, these tracks will seem to last a lifetime – in reality, they are only two or three minutes long, though. As if the album wasn't already long enough, the last track, "Theophagy," is nearly 23 minutes long (16 minutes of complete silence, followed by a scream that will undoubtedly startle many) and pushes Hydra's playtime to an hour and 13 minutes.
I didn't have any expectations – not high nor low – going into my first listen of Otep's latest effort because I had never listened to much of the band's material; I only heard a song here and there. After listening to the album a few times so that I could write what I think to be an accurate review, I have come to one conclusion: I will not be listening to this "work of art" again. There are a few tracks that are somewhat tolerable and I may come back to them on the rarest of occasions ("Blowtorch Nightlight," "Feral Game" and "Hag"), but the rest of the album is extremely disappointing. There is just way too much downtime; I spent the majority of my listens staring at the time slider on my iTunes, hoping for the track and album to come to a hasty end.