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Otep: Hydra

Victorious swansong for fearsome LA frontwoman

Thirteen years and six albums in, Otep Shamaya is calling it a day with one final studio offering. Conceptually based on her self-penned graphic novel, Hydra collates the singer’s most sinister influences into a melting pot of hypnotic songs that twist and turn with every note.

Heavy with atmosphere, these 13 tracks focus less on metal and more on the powerful lyrics she’s known for on her spoken-word and poetry interludes. Frequently harrowing and often making for uncomfortable listening, macabre content is accentuated by Otep’s effortless alternation between whispers, half-raps and screams.

It all reaches a climax with the unrivalled brutality of Feral Game. Otep has inspired many since she first burst out but now it’s time for her departure, she sends out a blood-curdling scream as Hydra’s final warning shot. Chances are this won’t be the last we’ve heard of her.

Natasha Scharf
Natasha Scharf

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.