"Fresh Hell, the latest offering from Houston grind squadron Omotai, breaks from the assault pattern of 2012's Terrestrial Grief on a number of fronts. The hulking snow-mountain trudge of opener "Get Your Dead Straight" pointedly establishes that the band is just as at-home pounding out molten, doom-laden jams as any of the hyperspeed sludge on which they've established their name. The relentless drive of "Leglifter" oscillates between indie sophistication and crude stoner metal, the lyrics betraying an uncharacteristically political bent (though the ultimate intent remains elusive). Closing track "We Don't Have to Be Strangers" echoes Shellac with its stabbing stutter-riff before launching into a dirge centered on social isolation and substance abuse.
The vocals are manifestly evolving, as well, with Ryan's pixieish wail climbing to the lead on several tracks. Waters and Vallejo still gleefully indulge in the wolfpack howls that made for some of the eeriest listening on Terrestrial Grief, though it's clear that each has become more acclimatized in his role as co-vocalist.
All told, Fresh Hell should not be taken as Omotai's masterpiece. What's clear, however, is that it's an exploratory outing on the way there, pushing boundaries and expectations set by the band's previous two efforts, and I'm willing to bet cash that we can expect some pretty stellar accomplishments from the trio in the years ahead."
released 18 February 2014
Samuel Waters - guitar, vocals
Melissa Lonchambon Ryan - bass, vocals
Anthony Vallejo - drums, vocals
Recorded by Chris Ryan at Dead City Sound, Houston, TX
Mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering
Artwork and Layout by Bjorn Bauer