Otep Hydra

Noise. This is how Hydra (Otep's "final studio album") begins — full force and cutting to the chase. Inspired by a graphic novel written by lead vocalist Otep Shamaya, it oozes intricate thought. Somewhere in between the tale of a girl "corrupted by the world, corrugated by evil," plucked from a creative reign and left for dead on an island with self-harming rats, Hydra represents sonic expression. Constructing a dark asylum out of sound, Otep are angry on "Crush" before splitting to soft, poetic interlude "Hematopia" and sexy sister track "Necromantic." The dungeon-like, cold, gritty, sharp notes of "Rising" set the tone. On "Blowtorch Nightlight," its name coercing a theme of danger and risk, Otep blends her signature whine with a screeching chorus atop heavy riffs. Fragments of Shamaya's novel are audible on effective atmospheric track "Quarantine," a frantic view into a disturbed mind. Industrial, electronic elements are present on "Voyeur," an eerie, spoken word fantasy about demolishing a pervert. Nineties nu-metal nostalgia erupts on the wicked "Apex Predator," as Otep nods to rap rockers of the era in a rebellious chorus. But "Hag," the definitive track of Hydra, is a culmination of genres Otep have utilized, past and present. As Hydra closes with the delicate beauty of Otep's whispered, repetitive poesy, the record is the sonic equivalent of an art installation. Successfully integrative, Hydra has adapted Otep's zealous graphic novel into a musical reading. Through headphones, with eyes closed, Hydra is the novel, but with more noise and less pictures. (Victory)