OTESANEK was a band from Philadelphia that made some of the heaviest, most extreme music I have ever heard in my life by combining elements from a variety of Extreme Metal subgenre along with their own artistic sensibilities that border at times on the Avant Garde, while remaining visceral and raw. The band formed in 2001 and would feature Demian Fenton and Chad Pfeiffer on Guitars, Rudy Steinhauser on Drums, Ryan Riggs on Bass, & both Brad Dumville and Leslie Weitz on vocals. The 1st release from the band would be a Demo tape in 2002. This cassette tape would be self released by the band and feature 4 tracks. & a total length of about 32 1/2 minutes.
The initial release of this demo consisted of 100 hand numbered tapes, although the band would produce more of them, but after the 1st 100 they were no longer numbered. The recording was dubbed onto pre-existing Fundamentalist Christian tapes. The recordings were done in the Bassist Ryan Steinhauser's basement by Sean Dorn in November of 2002, and the tapes were released by the band shortly after. This Demo established OTESANEK and their basic sound as they fused together elements from some of the more extreme subgenres of Doom, including Drone, Death/Doom, Sludge, & Funeral Doom. However, not everything was super slow paced on these demo tracks, as there are a few moments of Blast Beats, and faster parts interspersed throughout all the slow, crushing jams. All these elements combined with the individual artistic streak of the band members themselves proved to be an interesting, and very extreme sound. Over the next couple of years the band would be working on new material and playing live, and then in 2004, OTESANEK would release their next album.
This self titled album would be released on CD through the label, Electric Human Project. The album was recorded in the spring of 2004 by Steve Roche, in his basement, and would be released a few months later, in July, in a limited pressing of 1000 CDs. There are 2 tracks on this record, the first is entitled "Oceans" and clocks in at about 10 1/2 minutes, while the second song is called "Dead in the Park", and has a hefty run time of 19 minutes & 30 seconds, giving the record a total run time of right about 30 minutes. Both jams are incredibly slow, devastating examples of just how extreme Doom can be. Dueling vocalists, both screaming their guts out, ungodly heavy guitars with just killer tone, minimalist but quite fitting percussion, and deep lowend. Its the sound of being dragged down a gravel road, naked at 10 miles an hour. Its going to fuck you up, slowly. The faster parts, and blasting that were heard on the Demo are now gone, in favor of extremely slow, torturous Death/Doom, Drone and Sludge combined to make some of the ugliest, most misery filled jams that humans have ever created. Obviously, if you were to attempt to trace the origins of the band's sound to their influences, I'd say a few of the bands that come to mind would be some kind of a mix between Corrupted, Khanate, & Thergothon, with maybe also a bit of Eyehategod, but I think the EHG influence was a bit more prevalent on the Demo, than on these tracks. Regardless, OTESANEK still very much had their own, unique sound, while there were elements of the bands I mentioned, they didnt attempt to sound like anyone but themselves. The next release from the band would come a a few years later in 2007.
The Split album betwen OTESANEK and Japan's COFFINS, would be released in March 2007, on CD and Vinyl by Parasitic Records. Both the CD and LP versions were limited editions, with only 1000 CDs and 666 Vinyl LPs pressed. The first 111 LPs came with a handscreened poster, handstamped in black ink, numbered, and stenciled in human blood. The cover art, as seen above, was created by Steve Mullay, who killed himself shortly after he created it, and was used in tribute to him. This album contains 4 tracks total, with COFFINS contributing 3 tracks (2 originals, and 1 GOATLORD cover), and OTESANEK performing 1 song, "Narcotic Hues", which would be the longest song OTESANEK would ever record, clocking in at almost 22 minutes. "Narcotic Hues" was recorded in February 2005, again by Steve Roche, in his basement. The song features a very long, ominous build up for the first chunk of the song before finally delivering the feral bludgeoning we expect, as it comes in wave after crashing wave of sonic filth and malice. This LP would later be reissued by Kreation Records on limited edition clear/splatter vinyl. There were 500 total pressed and available in clear vinyl with red, blue, and gray splatter. After the split with COFFINS, there wouldnt be as long of a wait this time, before the arrival of the next release.
In 2008, Blake Judd's Battle Kommand Records would release this amazing 4 way split album,
"Four Burials". It features one track a piece from 4 of the best bands from the extreme end of the world wide Doom scene. Track 1 is OTESANEK's contribution, "Seven Are They", which runs at just over 8 1/2 minutes. It seems much shorter than its 8 plus minute run time, and its actually the shortest song on this 4 way split. It's not as drawn out as much of Otesanek's material, particularly compared to a piece like "Narcotic Hues", which builds up for quite some time before finally delivering the sludgy destruction. On "Seven Are They" we get OTESANEK at perhaps their most viscious and violent. Its 8 plus minutes of total nihilistic, misanthopy in audio form. Its taken from OTESANEK's final studio session in April of 2006 at Super 8 Studios, where they recorded with Mick Mullen. Track 2 on this split is the amazing Funeral Doom band LOSS, from Tennessee, with their song, "(To Pass Away) Death March Toward My Ruin", which is 14 plus minutes of suicidal despair. Next up is, Spanish, Drone band, ORTHODOX, who contribute the most sedate track on here and also the longest, in the form of "Heritage", which is 18 1/2 minutes long. Finally, the last track comes from Australian Funeral Doom monsters, MOURNFUL CONGREGATION, who deliver the 10 minute crusher, "Left Unspoken". The initial release of this album, came as I said, in 2008, through Battle Kommand, in the form of a limited edition pressing of 1000 CDs. It was re-released on on beautiful vinyl by The Flenser just a year or 2 ago, with new artwork, and I think possibly a different mastering job. One year later, following this 4 way split, we would get the final release from the now defunct OTESANEK.
In 2009, Nancy Jo and Reification of Misery Productions co-released this 12" Vinyl record, the final release from OTESANEK. It would features 2 songs, "Resonance of War" on Side A and "Sanguinary" on Side B. As with pretty much everything Otesanek every released, the release was a limited edition as only 500 LPs were pressed, and of those 500 records, 111 of them included an extra linocut insert that was stenciled in human blood. The album artwork was done by the amazing artist Pippi Zornoza, who has is an exceptional artist who's created killer art for many other bands and is also involved in a number of music projects herself, including THE ASSEMBLY OF LIGHT CHOIR, VVLTVRE, THRONE OF BLOOD, WOLD and more. The 2 tracks on here come from the same recording session as "Seven Are They", which was featured on the "Four Burials" 4 way split. The session took place April 2006 with Mick Mullen at Super 8 Studios. These final tracks are as good as anything the band every recorded and while they are definitely in line with OTESANEK's established sound, in some ways these songs take the band full circle, back to their demo days. After the Demo, the band pretty much only played extremely slow and never really played fast at all, ever, but on both these tracks there are some moments and parts where they pick up the pace and get a bit chaotic and fast again, which harkens back to the Demo tracks. Its interesting and definitely gives the songs some extra dynamics, These brief bursts of speed give the slow, crushing parts that much more impact. It would have been interesting to see where the band would have went next, whether they would have began incorporating more speed and chaos into the mix, or if they would have returned to Droning, drawn out pieces. Its hard to say, but regardless, its a mute point. What we are left with is a small, but amazing body of work that demonstrates just how far and how extreme music can be taken when a group of individuals come together who have the vision, the heart, and ability to take their collective influences and ideas and create something totally new. So if you like the more extreme ends of the Doom spectrum, like Funeral Doom, Death/Doom, Drone, Sludge, etc make sure you check out OTESANEK.
Andrew Glen Sweitzer