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SHOP SMALL SATURDAY 2017 – OMOTAI @ 4:00 P.M.

Omotai was founded in Houston in 2010 by guitarist Sam Waters, drummer Anthony Vallejo, and bassist Melissa Lonchambon. The band recorded their debut release, Peace Through Fear, within two weeks of formation; this confrontational EP drew on both modern heavy underground rock, ranging from Keelhaul to High on Fire, and the early industrial sounds of Godflesh and Skullflower, and was bolstered by Vallejo’s unscalable wall of noise. Omotai’s first West Coast tour followed only a few short months later.

Over the next four years, Omotai completed two LPs that showcased impressive stylistic evolution, first into the violent but purposeful hardcore of 2012’s Terrestrial Grief, and then the patient, layered sludge metal of 2014’s Fresh Hell. During post-production on the latter, the trio recruited Jamie Ross, a shockingly adept post-rock guitarist with unique harmonic sensibilities that provided for an immense expansion in the band’s sound. Vallejo departed in 2014 and was replaced by journeyman punk drummer (and Waters’ previous collaborator) Daniel Mee, whose staggered blasts and dynamic finesse tempered the band’s brute force.

After touring with the new lineup, Omotai threw themselves into the writing process for what would become their fourth and most expansive album, A Ruined Oak. A meditation on the lost colony at Roanoke, the record centers on abandonment and responsibility, the lyrics haunted by loss and violence. This sprawling, diverse work shows a greater range than anything the band has done before, with songs drawing from thrash, doom, sludge, extreme metal, hardcore punk, and post-rock. A Ruined Oak is due out in 2017.

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