Duality

Ra

Republic Records, 2005

http://www.raband.net

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/10/2020

Ra is an enigmatic band. On the surface, they sound like another drop-tuned progressive metal act; but as you dig deeper you find threads of funk and musical reflections of the mixed heritage (Puerto Rican and Russian-Jewish) of lead singer Sahaj Ticotin. Of course, then there's the Middle Eastern tinged musical accents – and the guitar – and and and.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Needless to say, Ra takes a little effort to get into, but the rewards are worth it. There is, in my opinion, no better place to start than 2005's Duality, a deep and complex piece of work that treads the balance between melodic and metal with elegance.

Things start off with an ominous spoken voice over from American actor Peter Strauss (who happens to be Ticotin's brother in law – rather convenient). It then cranks into the driving paranoia of "Fallen Angels"...which then segues into the gentler (remember, oh DV Teeming Masses, that's a relative term) of "Tell Me." Ra plays the dichotomy of dynamic intensity quite well; for every crunchy "Take Me Away," there's a song like the introspective, soaring, harmony-drenched "Superman." When you add in the lyrical proficiency, it's clear that what we have here is intelligent rock and roll.

For me, though, there is a clear highlight to Duality, and it's not what you'd expect. On track 11, Ra revs up their collective engine, hands the keys to guitarist Ben Carroll, and proceeds to dismantle the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," turning it into a driving, electric, hard-as-nails metal song that still makes me want to dance in my chair. Sheer genius.

By the time Duality closes with the soft, thoughtful "Swimming Upstream," it's been a heck of a journey. Ra puts me in mind of King's X, and that's quite a compliment from me; they have the same insistence that their intensity can contain spiritual and intellectual content. I strongly recommend checking Duality out.

Rating: A-

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