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Otep

Although nu metal is no longer the preferred nomenclature, the Los Angeles band Otep came up in that milieu for the past eight or so years. And its growling third album dances along the knife-blade edge of metalcore and pop, without descending into glammy hair metal.

Namesake and lead singer Otep Shamaya has been compared vocally to a combination of Marilyn Manson and Kim Gordon, an unholy alliance if ever there was one. But she has as distinctive of a voice as any in extreme music.

"Perfectly Flawed" is a perfectly realized slice of jagged but catchy metal pop, complete with a "sensitive" girly vocal (as opposed to the punky shriek Shamaya employs on most other songs) and an infectious undercurrent of double-time riffage woven beneath the obvious power-ballad chords.

Shamaya does let up the assault briefly on "Milk of Regret," although the gentle, slightly Middle Eastern guitar figure gives way to a Metallica-bombastic herd of thunder. She also is able to convincingly negotiate a nightmarish memory of the trauma of abuse, transforming it into breathless art: "I just can't forget / the blood / the stitches / the bite marks / the kisses / the glass memories reflecting back." Cathartic, right? But impossible to forget.

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