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CD Review: Otep

Smash the Control Machine (Victory)

Otep — the band led by Otep Shamaya — is one of the most influential and respected female-fronted metal bands. The Los Angeles group, which has had rotating members since its formation in 2000, has released three previous albums highlighting Shamaya's searing voice as she veers from moaning whispers to guttural screams. She equals any male vocalist in her genre. Otep's fourth album, Smash the Control Machine, features the return of guitarist Rob Patterson and drummer Mark Bistany who left the group in 2004. But the band has lost some of its metal edge. The album opens with smashing double-bass drums and Shamaya's signature shriek, but the title track could be a Distillers b-side, and the unfortunately titled "UR A WMN NOW" is a limp piano ballad that belongs on the soundtrack to some tween chick flick. Smash the Control Machine includes a few explosive, lyrically interesting moments ("Numb and Dumb"), and Shamaya is still a striking frontwoman and songwriter, but this record is something of a letdown. — Emily Zemler

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