Ötzi – Storm


The listener will have one question after the last track on this album comes to an end. Why is this band not huge? They’ll also thank the Gothic deities that they’re still in the underground, for Oakland’s Ötzi, are the best kept secret in the post-punk canon. Call it revivalist, nostalgic, pastiche music. All that matters is that it’s good.

One spin of opener, ‘Moths’, will transport you back to the neo-suicidal romance of Siouxsie and The Banshees Tinderbox album and leave you gasping for more. Just as glorious is the sorrowful rage of ‘Scorpio’ replete with saxophone and a guitar line straight from the playbook of early U2. This album is a kaleidoscope of semi-distorted guitars drowned in chorus effects and chunky bass lines routed through flanger pedals. This is most evident on ‘Hold Still’, which radiates with the heavenly glow of Psychedelic Furs underneath a Killing Joke cloud of deep root notes from four-stringer and vocalist, Akiko Sampson.

But Ötzi’s charm lies in their ability to compose songs that might have appeared on unrecorded soundtracks from cult films that never materialised in the mid-80s. The vocals are more passionate than a gluttonous steak lover at an Argentinian beef festival. The ‘Ballad of Oiwa’ will see you adopt numerous melodramatic poses in front of the mirror as you envisage your heart shrivelling up inside. Try to remain emotionless on the title track at the end. You’ve got ice in your veins if this doesn’t give you the same goose bumps as The Cure’s ‘Last Dance’ from Disintegration. Those hoping for an epic are spoilt for choice. After all, this is music that goths can adore. ‘15 Stars’ and ‘Eight Cups’ will satiate the appetite of those wanting to curl their hands up into claw shapes at the summit of a wooded valley as they feel the air leave their lungs.

The only thing you can level at this band is their lack of originality. Few songs get beyond the vintage sound of post-punk England in 1985, although ‘Outer Bounds’ could be from the early 90s with its Riot grrrl aggression. Likewise, Björk’s tenure in The Sugarcubes comes up on more than one occasion as does the spectre of the first two Christian Death albums. There’s also a feeling that keyboardist, Winter Zora, is underutilised. This is apparent every time the band threaten to embrace the spell of Clan of Xymox but hold back from unleashing the analogue electronics available to them.

Nothing in art is ever perfect but Ötzi reach for the ideal and drink from the same cup as their illustrious predecessors. Storm is an emotional expedition into the chaos of existence and has the scars of survival to prove the light on the other side is dim but never extinguished.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 22/05/2020

Record Label: Artoffact Records

Standout tracks: Scorpio, Eight Cups, 15 Stars

Suggested Further Listening: Siouxsie and The Banshees – Tinderbox (1986), U2 – War (1983), Christian Death – Catastrophe Ballet (1984)