Label: Victory Records
Release date: January 22, 2013
As I’ve gotten older, I have found that a lot of things have changed over the years, mostly with myself. I have found myself listening to music I never would have dreamed listening to. Otep was an artist that I had tried to get into years ago because a lot of my friends listened to them at the time. I was pretty narrow-minded when it came to music, and I never really understood the differing genres and the meaning behind them. I kind of feel like kicking myself in the ass because of that.
Otep is leaving behind a legacy. A legacy that will remain legendary in the history books. Hydra is her sixth and final full length studio album, which, to be honest, came as a surprise to myself as well as her loyal fans.
Hydra is a concept album, based off of a graphic novel that Otep Shamaya has been working on for the past two years. This story is interesting, as it tells of a young girl being corrupted and corrugated by the evils of the world. She journeys through transgressions, horrors, and revenge. As a result of this journey, she becomes an “infinite, still-born messiah, a vigilante serial assassin, codename: HYDRA”. If you couldn’t guess it, I was pretty intrigued when I read about this.
This work covers many grounds. If you’re into atmospheric music, you’ll love this. If you’re into heavy music, you’ll love this. Want dark, yet sinister tracks that leave you going “What the-”? Well as you could have guessed, you will love this. Hydra leaves me in awe just because of the way it is presented. It is cohesive, dynamic, and places itself in a league of its own in certain moments.
Otep follows a formula with this album, much like their previous. The introductory track sets everything in motion. From a distant calm, to a destructive, eruptive force that soon finds itself segue into one of the heavier tracks of the album, “Blowtorch Nightlight”. Shamaya is able to transform her voice in so many ways, it is unreal. At one moment you feel as though you’re hearing the voice of someone who is scarred, hurt, and just at the bottom of the pit. Suddenly, you’re punched in the face repeatedly by a sort of force that is unworldly. I wonder how she even bellows such a voice.
“Seduce and Destroy” feels just like that. Shamaya is able to draw you into this song with her easy-going, and of course seductive voice, much like a succubus. After playing this little “game”, again, you are met with tremors of destruction and devastation. This is also helped from the rest of the band. The instrumentals are not technical, they are far from that. They may come off as repetitive in many areas, but to be quite honest this may be one of the few times I’ll say that I enjoy it. They help enhance the experience by adding artillery to Shamaya’s voice and they easily eviscerate your ears as they take on a stabbing, cutting, and just plain painful quality to them.
Further into the album, there are many other songs that “meet my fancy” so to speak. Well, most of the album meets my fancy but I find quite a few that hit it high on my list of repeatable tracks. “Hematopia” is a short and sweet passage that adds more atmospheric qualities to the album. This feeds into “Necromantic”, which darkens quite a bit and also adding in a sort of glitchy element (like that of a TV zoning in and out of a broadcast, as an example). The song peaks with intensity and soon transforms into one of the coolest tracks, “Quarantine”.
“Quarantine” is a song of nightmares. That same glitchy element from before is present here, with the accompaniment of screams in the background, while Shamaya speaks of what seems to be a passage from a book. It is hard to keep track at first, but with further listens and dissections, it is apparent of what evils lie await within this. The same evils lie within “Voyeur” as well. This spoken “poem” was and still is one of the most disturbing things I have listened to in a long while. The concept will seem odd at first, until you read more into what is being said. Add in the white noise and the occasional playing of “bells”, and you get another creepy concoction.
Nearing the end of the album, I have to say I’m still intrigued with the work being done here. Otep has created a great lasting effect with Hydra. “Apex Predator” has an addicting rhythm throughout, causing you to bob your head without you realizing it. “Feral Game” has some guitar play that I really dig, and contains more variety than the other tracks. This ends up as another solid track. “Livestock” is another poetic passage that, again, brings that same haunting atmosphere. The production has been fantastic with this album, and if I’m ever to catch the live show of the upcoming tour, I hope they are able to incorporate these elements into it.
Well, my eardrums get blasted when “Hag” begins. It may also scare the crap out of you as you don’t get any warning. I’m glad to see the near ending of this album contain some more of that intensity. Hell, in certain parts of the song I feel like there is a bit of black metal going on with the drum work. That could be me though. Short and sweet sums this up.
The ending draws near. “Theophagy” incorporates some of the lyrical content from the introduction. The eerie chanting in the background underneath the spoken words leave the listener feeling either complete or wanting more. That itself is up to you. One gripe though, I’m not sure why the song spans to 23 minutes–there isn’t a need for it because all that is left after about six minutes is silence (except for a surprising scream in the last 10 seconds). Oh well.
Hydra is excellent–It haunts, it scares, and leaves goosebumps on those who aren’t ready to experience it. I have to give it to Otep: As a final album, this does not disappoint. From the production, to the lyrics, to the instrumentals, this album kicks ass. If you’re into concept albums and dark, heavy, and atmospheric elements, pick this up. If you’re an Otep fan, I don’t see why you would second guess getting this album. 2013 kicks off with a bang.