This review originally appeared on Reaper Magazine.
Having formed in 2009, OTN (Outside the New) have been bringing their eclectic sound to the music scene for almost ten years. Their debut album “Tabula Rasa” follows their 2010 EP “Follow the White Rabbit” and as the Latin album name suggest, is a clean slate for the band.
The album single “Braille” was released with a lyric video last month and is a strong opener for their debut. The track’s steady bassline almost forces you to move while you enjoy the unpretentious technicality of the rest of the band. It is a well-balanced track that combines modern and classic rock sounds.
There is a really easy flow into the second track “Jacks to position”, which has a comforting familiarity and definitively points to the band’s Linkin Park influence. Personally, I feel like it walks the line of trying to sound a little too much like early LP but is enjoyable none the less.
“Circles” provides a change from the heavier sound of the first two tracks and thought-provoking lyrics about South African society. *SPOLIER* I particularly enjoy the inclusion of the audio from Nelson Mandela’s speech from the dock at the Rivonia Trial.
Tracks such as “The Torrent” provide chill-inducing gritty vocals while “Left of Centre” is more hip hop inclined vocally. The album closes with “Moving Steadily”, a track that also featured on the EP. The sultry saxophone and orchestral sound are a far cry from the heaviness of the opening track.
The album takes you on an exciting musical journey that showcases just how eclectic and versatile OTN is without giving you too much musical whiplash. At the surface it’s an easy album to listen to that has instrumental gems that catch your ear and peak your interest enough to continue listening. The work that has been put into the recording process is evident in how tight the sound is, you can almost hear the annoyance at striving for the perfect mix. The depth and maturity of the lyrics had me wishing I had a copy of the lyrics to go with the listening.
Overall, Tabula Rasa is a thoroughly enjoyable album, particularly for fans of Linkin Park, Incubus and A Perfect Circle. Although rooted in rock, it has an eclectic sound and a few surprising tracks that definitely deserve a second or third listen.
Tabula Rasa is available now on all digital platforms including:
Review by Sam Camara