I have been a big fan of the band Ra since I first heard of them in the fall of 2000. Their first major release “From One” was a constant in my car stereo for at least a year. The guitar work is tight and heavy, and the riffs have those “hooks” that seem to get stuck in your head for a week. Some highlights off From One are “Do you call my name”, “Rectifier”, “Parole” and “Sky”. I highly recommend this record.
After From One came “Duality”. While not as fundamentally heavy as From One, Duality offered a more refined, produced sound that seemed to blend more into mainstream rock. Personally, I think Duality is outstanding and every song on that record is a hit. The guitars are not as “hooky” as From One, but the vocals make up for it. I find my self singing songs off Dually all the time. Tracks like “Take me away”, “I lost everything”, “Got me going”, “Undertaken” and “Tell me” have lyrics that I can relate to. It confuses me as to why this record was not an enormous hit, it’s clearly better than 80% of the crap out there. Needless to say, once again I highly recommend this record.
Now.. enter the latest “Black Sun”
Ever eat something you don’t like, only to have someone say “Oh, it’s an acquired taste. I love it!” just as you spit it out? I never understood that. Why the hell would anyone need to “acquire” a taste for something in order to enjoy it? If you don’t like it, don’t eat it – seems simple to me. Here’s the thing, those people that have that “acquired taste” are usually die-hard fans whatever they are eating. I think I have an idea of what this all means now.
When I first heard Black Sun my impression was that it does not quite stack up to the previous Ra records. Now, having listened to it a number of times, I reckon I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of this record each time. The sound is unique.
So far, Black Sun is not a “beginning-to-end” hit list like the previous to records where to me. I think it’s probably more along the lines of 70-30 outstanding. If I had to comment on each track it would probably sound something like this:
Broken Hearted Soul
I dig this track a lot. I like the guitar tone and the “pop song” style vocals, but I’m not a huge fan of the bridge. Not because it isn’t good, but it interrupts this kick-ass “Eff You” sort of jam with a wimpy “I think I love You” vocal. Overall a good song.
Very cool song. This track definitely has that “Duality” sort of vibe. The driving (yet smooth) guitar during the verse, the angry chorus and the very angry bridge get this song stuck in my head.
The First Step
I like the effects that are used in this one. Again, the track has a real “Duality” vibe to me. The vocals are tight, and the chorus is decent, but this sounds a lot like a “generic Ra song” to me. Good but not great, this seems to lack that “hook” some of the others have.
I think the acoustic guitar line in this track is outstanding. That combined with the ambient vocals are cool as hell. Hard to describe this one completely, but it has that epic “saga” sort of feel to me, like it tells a story. Not very radio-friendly, but still a pretty neat track.
Don’t Turn Away
Probably my favorite track on this album. This one has that huge sound that is similar to the epic “Tell Me” off of Duality. Enough said, I really dig this song.
Lost Along The Way
I hear a big Police influence on this song as well. Not my favorite track, not my least, this is another one of those generic Ra songs.
I Believe Again
I’m still debating on whether I like this one or not. I’ll update when I make an opinion.
Waste Of Space
If you know anything about the history of Ra, you just knew there would be a Sahaj’s bitch session on Black Sun. This is that song, and he hold no punches. Not my favorite track on Black Sun, but it’s not written for me. One thing is for sure, it’s justified.
Easily my second favorite track on Black Sun. I love the tension in this song, it makes me raise the volume… can’t explain it. ;)
A Poet’s Dream
Not a huge fan of this one. It’s a little to “deep” for me and there really isn’t a “hook” that gets stuck in my head like other Ra songs.
Easier Than This
Again, not my favorite track. Like the track above this, this song is a little to “weepy” or “deep” for me. I much prefer the rocking sound of Ra. To me, this track is more like a R&B song with electric guitar. Seriously, put a hip-hop beat under this and it would be a hit. ;)
All in all, I’d say this album is worth picking up!
Some helpful Ra Links: