The prowess and temptation of the single Journey To The Edge suggested that the debut album of US duo OTHERED would be one fruitful and adventurous affair. So with anticipation rife, we keenly delved into Othered Vol. 1 only finding that the song merely scratched the surface of its creative fertility and hungry enterprise.
Oakland hailing, OTHERED is the collaborative union of vocalist/lyricist Emily Palen (a.k.a. KnightressM1) and guitarist/bassist Henry Austin Lannan, the pair meeting by chance through SPECIMEN BOX, Lannan’s collaborative music project with Larry Boothroyd (Jello Biafra and GSM, Victim’s Family, Triclops!).
Seeded in the pandemic bound lockdowns of 2020, the project and subsequently this first album grew from the constraints of seclusion, loneliness and a world in full turbulence, the pair subsequently linking up with producer/engineer Phil Becker (drummer of Triclops!, Terry Gross, Pins of Light and Lower Forty-Eight) for Othered Vol. 1. With its songs borne of the darkness and isolation bred anxieties of the time and cast in the lyrical observation and insight of Palen, it is just as congruous to the turmoil today where its leaders seem to have no regard for fellow man and the common world, just their own ends.
Weaving a realm of suggestion and imagination within a fusion of alternative rock, doom and melodic metal with plenty more besides to its character, OTHERED align raw power and emotional dispute with melodic beauty and just as rich sonic and lyrical intimation, every track in word and sound in their album proving a potent orchestration of thought and imagination. The release openly shares the dark times and tenebrific light we have all endured yet finds the source to rouse the spirit and light instinctive hope, Palen and Lannan embracing the synth and piano prowess of Doug Pearson and rhythmic craft of Eric Strand as well as numerous other guests across the album.
The instrumental opening of Coastal I is a short atmospheric setting, a calm beauty from which Planets on the Rise emerges, its rhythmic opening instantly gripping ears and appetite with manipulative incitement. Quickly the evocative and welcomingly familiar tones of Palen open up in emotional contemplation, Lannan’s guitar as gentle and suggestive of a volatile time, subsequent tempestuous eruptions of searing flames in the songs mercurial landscape simply escalating its hold.
Journey to the Edge borne of that tempest is a gnarly metal kilned proposal, a prowling incitement which is just as voraciously seductive through Palen’s captivating tones which also bear their own feral edge and fire. Menace and motivation, both aided by Larry Boothroyd’s punchy rhythms, align in the quickly compelling song, its prowess matched by War and its own captivation loaded trespass. Like a predator the track circles the senses, Palen’s warm lures siren like within its intimidation. Threat soaks every essence of the song, from its rhythmic confrontation and sonic portent and touch to the melodic insurgency and harmonic agitation of keys, guitar and voice.
There is a feel of an aftermath to next up Redless, its instrumental landscape feeling like the fall-out from its outstanding predecessor but equally setting its own suggestion and contemplation for the imagination to weave with, essences of classic and gothic rock embroiled in its metal sculpted persuasion while Dead Americans straight after marches through ears with industrial intimidation and brooding fractiousness. Again it is a track which is dark coercion and creative invention, a predator wrapped in the ever devoured tones of Palen, her warm vocal beauty only adding to the sinistrous magnificence which fluidly evolves into the contemplative domain of Center of the Galaxy, it too a tapestry of texture and enterprise which invades and seduces with matching temptation. For all the darkness and light that OTHERED shape their release from there is an inherent catchiness which gets under the skin just as eagerly as its more antagonistic nuances and no more virulently than here.
Pink in June explores its own contagious imagination next; the song bearing The Mission meets March Violets hues in its far too brief a stay, its highly infectious and memorable hug followed by the just as flavoursome and riveting Coastal II, a final greedily devoured instrumental bringing the album to a rich and spirit enlivening close.
Othered Vol. 1 is simply superb, a release immediately wiring up an appetite indeed a need to press play again and again, ears and imagination persistently and keenly wrapped up in its drama, invention and provocative beauty.
Othered Vol. 1 is out now; available @ https://otheredoak.bandcamp.com/releases
Pete RingMaster 30/06/2022
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