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OTTTO Life Is A Game

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, March 27, 2023 @ 9:08 AM


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OTTTO
Life Is A Game

ORG




Photo Credit: John Gilhooley

METALLICA’s been around for long enough now that its progeny is starting to get into the game. Frontman James Hetfield’s son Castor plays drums in the hard rock trio BASTARDANE and drummer Lars Ulrich’s kids Myles and Layne make up the alt-rock duo TAIPEI HOUSTON. But bassist Robert Trujillo’s son and bass prodigy Tye is the one who has really made a name for himself – even though he is still just 18.

Trujillo famously played shows with KORN in South America when he was all of 12 years old and later toured with his old man’s old band SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. More recently, he showed his range by recording extra guitar parts for METALLICA’s “Master Of Puppets” as part of one of the climatic scenes of the season four finale of Stranger Things. He’s also got his own band, OTTTO, which has followed up its self-titled debut from 2020 with the brand new Life Is A Game.

The trio, founded by guitarist/vocalist Bryan Noah Ferretti and Trujillo in 2017 - when he was still in middle school - is rounded out here by drummer Patrick “Triko” Chavez, who came aboard in 2021 – though ex-drummer Jonah Abraham performed on a few of the Game tracks. As is true with the other METALLI-kids’ bands, OTTTO sounds nothing like Trujillo’s dad’s “new” band. It's certainly not thrash metal by any stretch, favoring a sound that is more a cross of groove metal/hard rock and a bit of punk and funk, echoing SUICIDAL or INFECTIOUS GROOVES to a degree, with plenty of ALICE IN CHAINS/early ‘90s CORROSION OF CONFORMITY/HELMET-style hooks that are somewhat tempered by a GREEN DAY/BLINK 182-ish pop sheen.

A lot of that comes from Ferretti’s disarming “boyish” vocals. Though he adds a bit of grit here and there, as on “Skyscraper”, Ferretti’s otherwise super clean, naturally polished tone – which would be perfect in a punk-pop setting – steals a bit of what musical thunder there is on Life Is A Game.

And this is an album that could have used a bit more thunder, or at least the sort of raw youthful exuberance and spunk one might expect out such a, well, youthful band. But while there’s no denying the trio’s chops, the delivery here is surprising measured, with some propulsive thrash/hardcore teases scattered about to punctuate what are often rather similar tempos. Game gets off to good enough start with the buoyant thump of “My Pain”, which carries over to niftily riffy, occasionally bracing “Skyscraper”, but doesn’t really build on that momentum from there. Instead, the band shifts gears with the bluesy, TOOL-like jamminess of “Night Howlers” – which highlight Trujillo and Ferretti’s craftiness –the mid-tempo funk and roll of “Scopa” and “Let Them Return” and the trudging crunch of “Ride Low” that threatens to let loose only to be held in check.

The rollicking “Dance Of The Dead” finally kick out the jams a bit, as Chavez ratchets up the tempo and the band puts its heads down and rocks.But that proves but momentary, as the aptly titled “Trip” follows with a mishmash of ethereal Brit poppiness and psychedelia. Soaring choruses and a punchy finale brighten the otherwise turgid “Cosmos” before “The Void” closes things out with more rousing choruses, some gut-punch chunkiness and, for some reason, a few death grunts.

The songs here are all decent enough and certainly well played. Trujillo’s fluid basslines are integrated seamlessly into the overall sound and his bandmates show themselves more than up to the task of matching his formidable skills. The band sounds like an actual “band”, and not merely the Tye Trujillo Show. But perhaps because of Trujillo’s presence and pedigree, I know I was expecting more out of OTTTO – especially in terms of energy or pizzazz, for lack of a better term - than what Life Is A Game ultimately delivered.

3.0 Out Of 5.0


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