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23 November 2017

[Review] OTEHI - Garden of God

OTEHI - Garden of God
"When there's a severe winter and people are going through difficult times due to lack of heat or food, this is 'OTEHI'. When someone we love is sick or dies, this is 'OTEHI'. When epidemics strike us, when people die, when there is no more hope, this is 'OTEHI'.
'OTEHI' is not only an ancient Lakota word, it's a brotherhood, a way to conceive the world.
The word "OTEHI" represents a difficult and hard time for the tribe, a sort of negative karma, when people suffer waiting for something better.

(The above explanation for the meaning of the word 'OTEHI' was given to us by the band in an interview for Downtuned Magazine two months ago. Read it here

It's been three years since the Italian trio released their previous full album "Dead Chants And Forbidden Melodies" (read a review here) but the band didn't remain 'silent' in the meantime as they also released an unplugged live recording at Radio Manzo (April 2016). It seems that since 2014 OTEHI have been trying to approach their music in different ways compared to the past and that fact surely helped them evolve and finally reach the point where they felt ready for their next full album.
OTEHI's evolution is very clear if one compares the sound in 'Garden of God' with the sound of their previous releases. Despite the fact that the production approach is somehow different in this album, OTEHI kept all the crucial characteristics that make their sound distinctive. The band seems to have worked a lot and evolved a lot more to reach and "enter" the Garden of God. The oxymoron in this case is that according to OTEHI's concept we are all victims of the "Garden of God", both animals and humans, and that's clearly depicted in album's artwork and I couldn't agree more...

The sure thing is that "Garden of God" is a worthy successor of "Dead Chants and Forbidden Melodies". Back in 2014 the one thing that I really loved about OTEHI was that they didn't choose to polish their album production but instead they preferred to keep it sort of lo-fi. Although one could not describe "Garden of God" as a lo-fi production, in my ears it doesn't sound at all polished or "over-produced". OTEHI chose to keep their dirty, fuzzy, noisy attitude and at the same time evolve their sound to the next level. The production has clearly more volume and more groove, there are a lot of "clean" parts where guitar, bass and the vocals are very distinct and they always lead to fuzzy, noisy, heavy outbursts. (Still I wonder how "Garden of God" would sound if recorded with the production of the previous album... :-P). The above "pattern" proved to be quite addictive for me as I found myself listening to the whole album very time I pushed play on the first track.
OTEHI band photoIn contrast to their previous, more complex release, OTEHI chose to go back to their roots with this one and create something different, more atmospheric, and somehow innovative, in a different way. Those listeners that were expecting something more complex may be a bit disappointed by I think that the way the compositions unfold along with their long duration will compensate and convince them that "Garden of God" is a whole new step in OTEHI's discographic journey. Despite the fact that the album is consisted of 4 tracks (excluding the intro and outro) with a total duration of 40 minutes I still consider "Garden of God" as a single entity and I can't easily chose a favorite track. One exception maybe could be the "Naked God" which kicks-in so wonderfully after the intro with this simple but very on-spot and catchy sounding riff (which reminded me somehow the riff in Gardenia).
Having followed OTEHI almost from their beginning, and also after having interviewed the band just before this release came out I've reached the conclusion that these guys are authentic and passionate. And "Garden of God" came to confirm this. Listening to all of their previous releases and listening to their last as well, I get the impression that they are putting their heart and soul into what they do and that's something that is reflected in their music.
They aren't pretending to be something they are not, they aren't copying anyone, they don't imitate anyone, they're just doing what they really seem to love and they're doing it in a quite productive way. They prefer to walk on their own path, looking away from the stoner-hype of the last years that's still spawning hundreds of bands that are identical to each other, they create the music they love, with their own distinctive character and taste.
Push play below and enjoy the ride!

by Sotos
Band Members:
Domenico Canino - Guitar,Vocals & Effects
Maciej Wild Mikolajczyk - Bass & Vocals
Corrado Battistoni - Drums

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