Our top ten Otep songs list looks at the body of work of an American band revered for its nu-metal sound. The band’s formation in 2000 was spearheaded by the imposing female rock vocalist Otep Shamaya. Often, Otep’s music blends autobiographical lyrics with erratic political and cultural/religious commentary. The fiery and outspoken vocalist Otep Shamaya has led the band throughout all incarnations, often delivering hard-hitting growls and rap vocals (with occasional clean vocals).
Over the years, Otep has issued two extended plays and eight full-length studio albums. While the band has primarily identified itself as a nu-metal act, its music has regularly incorporated alternative metal, death metal, gothic metal, and rap metal influences. Otep has cited Slayer, The Doors, Slipknot, Deftones, and Korn as its major influences.
Otep’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
Since its inauguration, Otep has capitalized on the art of delivering remarkable live performances, a move that has seen the band maintain a cult following over the years. Astoundingly, the band almost never broke a sweat rising to the nu-metal scene after its formation in 2000. Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy Osbourne’s wife, saw Otep members in one of their live performances and fell in love with the band. The next time we heard of Otep was at the 2001 Ozzfest Festival courtesy of an invite from Sharon.
Capitol Records moved swiftly to sign Otep guided purely by instincts that the band would impress as hinted by its commanding live performances. Otep went ahead to issue its debut extended play Jihad in 2001. Working on the production of the extended play was Rich Costey, a record producer/engineer/mixer known for his prodigious work with Foo Fighters, Swirlies, Audioslave, P.O.D., Muse, My Chemical Romance, and Foster the People. Some of the best Otep songs from the five-track EP include “T.R.I.C.,” “The Lord Is My Weapon,” and “Possession.”
Otep’s Album Releases over the Years
After a fairly successful extended play, Otep returned in 2002 with its debut studio album Sevas Tra. The album was issued through Capitol Records with Terry Date tasked with its production duties. Other artists who have worked with Terry include Overkill, Slipknot, Soundgarden, Limp Bizkit, and White Zombie to name a few. Sevas Tra was a mainstream success rising to position eighty-six on the UK Albums Chart.
The album also graced the Billboard 200 peaking at number one hundred and forty-five. This nu metal/gothic rock record featured reworked versions of all songs from the EP Jihad and other musical gems including “Blood Pigs,” “My Confession,” and “Battle Ready.” Jihad’s “The Lord Is My Weapon” was renamed to “Sacrilege” upon reworking, with all the other tracks from the EP maintaining their title.
House of Secrets, issued in July 2004, marked Otep’s sophomore studio album. The album was produced by Greg Wells, a reputable Canadian engineer/record producer known for his impressive work with Elton John, Deftones, Weezer, Aerosmith, and Taylor Swift among others. House of Secrets made it to the ninety-third spot on the Billboard 200, featuring some of the best Otep songs including “Buried Alive,” “Warhead,” “Requiem,” and “Nein.” The album was Otep’s last record under Capitol Records.
In 2005, Otep returned with a self-released extended play entitled Wurd Becomes Flesh. The EP was barely successful but managed to feature notable songs such as “Adrenochrome Dreams.” Eventually, Otep returned in 2007 with its third studio album The Ascension. The Ascension saw the band blend its staple nu-metal sound with rap metal and alternative metal influences. Working on The Ascension’s production is the record producer/musician Dave Fortman.
As a musician, Fortman is best known for his contribution to the guitar in the hard rock band Ugly Kid Joe. Fortman has been credited with the production of records by Evanescence, Slipknot, Eyehategod, Simple Plan, and Mudvayne among others. The Ascension was a mainstream success rising to position eighty-one on the Billboard 200. “Ghostflowers,” Confrontation,” “Crooked Spoons,” “Perfectly Flawed,” and “March of the Martyrs” are the most popular Otep songs from the album. The Ascension also featured Otep’s cover of “Breed,” a song initially released by Nirvana.
In 2009, Otep issued its fourth studio album Smash the Control Machine through Victory Records. Working on the album was Ulrich Wild, a record producer best known for his prodigious work with Pantera, Seether, and Deftones among others. Smashing the Control Machine is the band’s highest-charting album having peaked at position forty-seven on the Billboard 200. “Rise, Rebel, Resist,” “Run for Cover,” “Head,” and the album title track are the best Otep songs from Smashing the Control Machine.
Otep returned in 2011 with its fifth studio album Atavist, issued through Victory Records. Once again, the band reunited with Ulrich Wild on the album’s production. Atavist made it to position sixty-one on the Billboard 200. Some of the musical gems featured on this album include “Fist Fall,” “Atom to Adam,” “Remember to Forget,” and the band’s cover of “Not to Touch the Earth,” a song by The Doors.
Hydra, issued in 2013, marked the band’s sixth studio album and final release under Victory Records. The album saw Otep serve its fans with a blend of its signature nu-metal sound and alternative metal influences. Hydra made it to the Billboard 200 peaking at number one hundred and thirty-three. “Apex Predator,” “Blowtorch Nightlight,” and “Seduce & Destroy” are some of the best Otep songs from Hydra.
In 2016, Otep released a new studio album entitled Generation Doom. The album was Otep’s first through Napalm Records, a hard rock/heavy metal record once home to The Smashing Pumpkins, Falkenbach, HammerFall, Candlemass, and Cradle of Filth. Generation Doom made it to position one hundred and nine on the Billboard 200. “Equal Rights,” “Zero,” “In Cold Blood,” and “Royals” are the most popular songs from Generation Doom.
Kult 45, issued in 2018 through Napalm Records, marked the band’s eighth (most recent) album. The album is Otep’s first record not to have made it to the Billboard 200. However, the album graced the Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart, rising to position eleven. Kult 45 is home to notable musical gems such as “Molotov,” “Shelter in Place,” and “To the Gallows.”
Otep’s Accolades and Legacy
Otep has stamped its authority as one of the most successful nu-metal acts in the twenty-first century. All of its albums, have made it to the Billboard 200 Chart, except Kurt 45 which nevertheless made it to other mainstream charts in the US. Smash the Control Machine, went ahead to earn Otep the Outstanding Music Artist accolade in the 2010 GLAAD Media Award ceremony. Here we present the all-time best Otep songs sampled from the band’s eight studio albums and two extended plays.
#10- Apex Predator
Ushering us to the ten best Otep songs list is the exceptional hit “Apex Predator.’ The song is the zenith of Otep’s excellence in the sixth studio album Hydra. Hydra was a concept album centered around the accounts of a character named “Hydra,” who wishes to destroy all corrupted souls. “Apex Predator” tells of the destructive character’s (Hydra) encounter with one of her victims with whom she has fallen in love.
The song is quite catchy and features one of the most impressive lyrical compositions. A music video was released for this hit with P.R. Brown tasked as its director. Other artists who have worked with P.R. Brown include Slipknot, Evanescence, John Mayer, Audioslave, Green Day, and Avenged Sevenfold among others.
In an album filled with themes of self-hate and self-doubt, Otep dares to go a tad bit political with the hit “Warhead.” The song powers through to become of the timeless hits by Otep from House of Secrets. “Warhead” is a powerful protest song having it compared to the band’s hit “Confrontation,” from the 2007 album The Ascension. Shamaya cited “Warhead” to be a song inspired by her attack on then-president George W. Bush.
At first, the song was quite divisive but later, most of the band’s fans nodded to Shamaya’s attack on the president and his administration owing to the ‘deteriorating’ state of the nation. “Warhead” continued to impress in the mainstream, becoming one of the most popular songs on MTV’s Headbangers Ball in 2004. Playing the drums in this song was former Slipknot member Joey Jordison.
In an era where nu metal has seen a decline in popularity, Otep has continuously cracked the code to sustained relevance over the years in the music scene. Enough proof is the number eight pick on our ten best Otep songs list, “Royals.” “Royals” is a 2013 song issued first by the New Zealand artist Lorde. The original version blending art pop, electropop, and alternative rock influences.
Otep took this millennials anthem and turned it into an impressive nu-metal/heavy metal hit. The band has issued other covers of songs by Nirvana, The Doors, and Rage Against the Machine. However, Otep’s work with Lorde’s hit “Royals” remains prodigious, towering over all songs from the band’s seventh studio album Generation Doom including “Zero”’ and “In Cold Blood.” Otep’s cover of “Royals” made it to the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs Chart peaking at number thirty-nine.
#7- Smash the Control Machine
“Smash the Control Machine” is the illustrative hit of Otep’s musicianship on the band’s highest-charting fourth studio album. The song was issued as the first single to the band’s fourth studio album of the same title. Credit to the band’s primary vocalist Otep Shamaya for her audacious songwriting skills which have seen songs like “Smash the Control Machine” remains relevant to date.
“Smash the Control Machine” is one of the most alluring political commentaries with its lyrics calling out the greedy owners of big establishments. While the song creates space for discussion of our diverse views concerning its theme, we can all agree that “Smash the Control Machine” is a true masterpiece, thanks to its amazing composition and Shamaya’s appealing clean vocals.
Unfortunately, our list fails to feature another magical cut of Otep’s fourth studio album, “Rise, Rebel, Resist,” which also takes a political stance. “Smash the Control Machine” was a mainstream success, rising to the twenty-seventh spot on the Billboard Active Rock Chart. The song also graced the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs Chart peaking at number twenty-eight.
Number six on our ten best Otep songs list is the electrifying hit “T.R.I.C.” The song was among the groundbreaking hits featured on the band’s debut extended play Jihad. “T.R.I.C.” was later reworked and issued on the band’s debut studio album Sevas Tra. The song serves as a perfect introduction to Otep’s hard-edged nu-metal sound.
“T.R.I.C.” is an aggressive track as showcased in its instrumentation and Shamaya’s vocals. In this song, Shamaya inclines more into her rap vocals, as seen in songs like “Run for Cover.” “T.R.I.C.” is an abbreviation for “The Revolution Is Coming,” with the song featuring some religious commentary.
#5- Buried Alive
“Buried Alive” remains the archetypal hit to Otep’s musicianship on the album House of Secrets. Despite its delivery in a slow tempo, “Buried Alive” gets a tad bit ferocious especially after the intro thanks to the hard-hitting instrumentation and screaming vocals. The song gets even darker with its lyrical content which alludes to hating one self’s life owing to pessimistic thoughts and ill perceptions about what others think of you.
#4- Blood Pigs
“Blood Pigs” is one of the most sought-after hits off the band’s debut studio album Sevas Tra. In one of her interviews, Otep Shamaya revealed that Sevas Tra was an album inspired by the struggles of life and what one needs to do to overcome the struggles/avoid succumbing to the struggles. “Blood Pigs” finds the singer rising above her pains by avoiding holding herself back to the ill-conceived fears.
In the song, Shamaya sings “art saves all of me,” a phrase evocative of the song’s parent album’s title Sevas Tra (read backward, that’s Art Saves). “Blood Pigs” compares to the song “Fists Fall,” off the band’s fifth LP Atavist, with both of the songs seemingly borrowing from the same template—Standing up to our fears!
Activism comes with believing in the power of speaking out our minds and finding no glory in silence. Otep Shamaya is not new to political activism — In fact, she knows better as expressed in the band’s protest song “Confrontation.” At the beginning of the song, the singer exclaims vehemently the phrase, “Don’t Be Silent!”
Later in the song, the singer gives a complete course of action to any oppressed soul citing standing up, speaking up, and striking back as the perfect way to rebel against our oppressors. Asked about the song “Confrontation” from The Ascension in an interview, Otep Shamaya revealed that her intent while penning this hit was for people to quit being too apathetic to the then situation of the world, especially in the hands of our leaders.
#2- Battle Ready
Otep thrives in pure brutal super-heavy nu-metal sounds like those of the hit “Battle Ready.” “Battle Ready” is among the songs from the band’s LP Sevas Tra that helped Otep find its way to stardom. The song blends Otep’s usual nu-metal sounds with hard-hitting rap-metal influences. In this song, Shamaya emulates the nu metal-tinged rap vocals of Limp Bizkit’s frontman Fred Dust. The brutal yet alluring delivery of songs like “Battle Ready,” earned Otep a cult following in the nu-metal scene.
Number one on our ten best Otep songs list is the alluring hit “Ghostflowers.” The song is one of the most popular hits nu-metal ballads off the band’s third studio album The Ascension. “Ghostflowers” features slamming hot basslines that add to the song’s vivacious feel. While Shamaya slightly gives a taste of her clean /rap vocals, the singer reaches perfection with her ear-piercing screams.
Otep Shamaya’s screaming vocals attract comparison to other female screaming vocalists in heavy metal including Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy and Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist. Guitarist Karma Cheema and drummer Brian Wolff were so fresh in Otep’s lineup at the time of this song’s release. However, the two rolled up their sleeves to rock hard with the rest of Otep members yielding one of the band’s most solid records.
Top 10 Otep Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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