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VR638At first listen, something that becomes very apparent about the new album from OTEPis that it sounds a bit different than the recent recorded output from musical auteur OTEP SHAMAYA and her co-conspirators. Like it’s namesake, ATAVIST, the album is a resurgence of the passionate anger that flowed so heavily through her vocals on SEVAS TRA and HOUSE OF SECRETS nearly a decade ago. While a call to action has always been present in OTEP releases, there was an abrasiveness in those early releases that had been sanded down and polished-up in recent years. ATAVIST scratches the paint to expose the innards to the elements – allowing the rust to bleed through like the imperfection found within life itself.

To call this a different band would be accurate, yet completely expected. OTEP is always a different band in terms of personnel, with Shamaya as the engine – fueling the artistic direction of the project through countless evolutions. While some players have stuck around longer than others, the lineup is ever-changing.

On ATAVIST we hear sonic performances from the likes of TONY CAMPOS (PRONG, MINISTRY, STATIC-X) on bass, RANI SHARONE (STOLEN BABIES, PUSCIFER) on guitars, and his brother GIL SHARONE (also of STOLEN BABIES, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN) on drums, in addition to appearances by other session players and producer ULRICH WILD. Unfortunately in the age of digital review copies, liner notes are seldom included, and as in this case – I can’t share with you exactly who played what on which track.

Perhaps due to the number of players in the mix, the songwriting feels like a less cohesive affair this time around, giving the album an almost unfinished feel at times. Despite it’s flaws, there’s some real gems here like Drunk on the Blood of Saints and I, Alone. Fans of Shamaya’s poetic spoken word will find enjoyment in Baby’s Breath and Bible Belt.

The bottom line is that ATAVIST is OTEP stripped back. Uneven at times, but worth a listen.

Rating: 3/5

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