Why should you give “Broken Lens” a chance? If you’re familiar with the genre of “metal covers” and the names of Leo Moracchioli, Pete Cottrell or Rob Scallon ring a bell, you’ve might have come across the father of Moonic Productions, Otu Suurmunne, a relatively new but colourful addition to the scene. In his videos he follows a fairly simple formula of taking a well-known (usually pop) song and rewriting it in the style of a metal band he likes. He wasn’t the first, nor is he the best known on the scene, yet for me, what makes him stand out from the rest of the fish in the sea is his instrumental talent: as well as singing, he plays guitars, drums and, in the song in question, even the violin. Another reason why I find Otu infinitely underrated is the breadth of his repertoire. While he obviously can’t be mentioned in the same breath as guitar heroes like, say, John Petrucci or Chris Impellitteri, he’s perfectly capable of bringing more complex rolls to the table, when he has to put a Dimebag solo theme into a song in imitation of Pantera, for example.
What’s more, his favourites are the same as mine, for he prefers the sound of System Of A Down. Needless to say, it’s a real niche when someone takes on the burden of creating in SOAD’s style, when Tankian has refused to do so for 18 years now. And Otu is dead serious about it: his delivery and humour evolve from song to song, and he is so immersed in the roles of Serj and Daron that if you close your eyes you can hardly tell his voice from the originals. Mind you, System is also not a bad choice for covers since they’re not far removed from astonishing collaborations and pairings (see their covers of originally synthpop Berlin or hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan). Over time, he’s produced so many SOAD songs that he could have released a whole album of them – and he has! The Spotify link at the end of this article features Moonic Of A Down, which is imbued with the same massive madness from start to finish as the original, and in places it hits you in the face just as hard, even if it attacks the eardrums with My Little Pony’s soundtrack or A-Ha’s hit song Take On Me instead of Serj Tankian’s outspoken and socially critical lyrics. For me, though, the “highlights” of the album and of his entire body of work so far are the covers that are based on themes of rock bands, such as his cover of Alice In Chains‘ Dirt (I wouldn’t mind a cover of the entire Dirt album…). From then on, it was only a matter of time before he would have his own music, and I was secretly hoping that he would follow this latter song’s line in it.
And then Otu recently – out of nowhere, so to speak – treated us to his first song that could be called his own, Broken Lens, and he delivered exactly what I was hoping for: a song that has all his influences without exception, but still feels fresh and unique. He opens with a solution that we have never heard from him before. In the few seconds of the intro, he lets out his previously hidden throat sounds, and he really has them!
I’ve always been of the opinion that to start a song with the chorus right away requires a considerable, almost outrageous amount of ego. I didn’t think that Otu, who thanks each praising comment under his videos individually, would be able to prove my thesis wrong. The chorus, backed by a vocal theme reminiscent of Chester Bennington, slams into the ground with the force of a concrete brick falling from a twenty-storey building after the throat singing has stopped, but the rest of the song is no slouch in intensity either. Operating in a strong Alice In Chains vein, with some Pain Of Salvation echoes, I really like the way he lays down the violin for the vocals, which I was particularly curious about before the first listen. Otu always tries to imitate other people’s voices in his arrangements, which is why I think the most important element of Broken Lens is that he doesn’t want to be Jonathan Davis or Jens Kidman here, but himself alone. We already knew that he had excellent talent, but with this vocal performance he really made his mark.
Finally, I would like to add one more thing: as a musician myself, I find it hard to listen to music without wondering what I would have done differently, where I would have taken a different chord, where I would have bent the vocal differently, etc. This undoubtedly makes a lot of things easier, for example when I’m writing about music, but in many cases it takes away from the experience of listening to music. That’s why I’m very fond of Otu and Broken Lens, because I wouldn’t move a note in that song, I think it’s perfect as it is. I wouldn’t mind if he concentrated on his own songs in the future!
Genre: Alternative/Groove metal
Artist: Otu Suurmunne (Moonic Productions)
Song: Broken Lens (2023, single)
Say what you want me to be They only see what they see Say what you want me to be They only see what they see Handed this deck of cards Some are fools and some are kings Red pill or blue pill To let it live or let it die Look through this broken lens To see the flaws and the grey Poison from these minds Whose to say what is right or wrong? Say what you want me to be They only see what they see Say what you want me to be They only see what they see Silence wounds the soul It awakens the violent mind Go down this rabbit hole To let it live or let it die Say what you want me to be They only see what they see Say what you want me to be They only see what they see
What is worth knowing about Otu? Actually, everything there is to know about him I have already said in the introduction, so there is only one interesting thing I could add. Anyone who has listened to the song first and only then got to this part might have noticed something, if they were paying attention. Personally, I’m impressed by the left-handedness already, I can’t really do that kind of quality even with my right. But Otu also has a distinctive quirk he covers up so well that only someone looking directly at it while watching Broken Lens’ video clip would notice it. Otu Suurmunne was born with a deformed left hand due to a rare birth defect, leaving all but one of his fingers vestigial. For many people, this condition would have left a strong mark on their lives, especially if it was also their dominant hand, but Otu never gave up, for which I admire him immensely. Personally, I see him as one of the great talents of the future and the next Leo Moracchioli, and I’m already on pins and needles to see what’s next for him.