Review Summary: A little known French band combines a vast slew of influences to create one of the most promising metal debuts of 2009.
It isn't often that one finds a band that actually succeeds in creating a totally original sound. More often than not, they will either sounds much too similar to their peers to be considered truly unique or their sound will be nothing more than a poorly thought out jumble of influences. Fortunately, Arms of Ra, an obscure French metal/hardcore act, and their self-titled debut fall into neither of these categories, making for one of 2009's most interesting debuts. In three tracks spanning 25 minutes they take the listener on a sonic odyssey through everything from the hardcore-influenced sludge of Black Ships
to the polyrhythmic chugging of Meshuggah
to the dark sludge of Amenra
and everything in between. Even with the long average length of the tracks (7-10 minutes), Arms of Ra somehow manage to keep things interesting throughout: a feat that countless new bands can only hope to accomplish. The listener will get bored exceedingly rarely, with a new sludgy riff or a frantically barked hardcore-esque vocal line always keeping him on the edge of his seat.
, the shortest of the EP's three tracks, sets the tone for all that is to come perfectly. The vocals, combining rough hardcore influences with a very Zao-esque shriek, keeps things intense while occasional post-metally instrumental breaks give the listener a refreshing break from Arms of Ra's aural assault. Displaying another common characteristic of hardcore, the bassist, instead of being pushed into the background, can always be heard above the guitars, drums, and vocals, and he contributed some impressive, if not extremely technical, grooves and lines. Pyramids
, the EP's second track, sees Arms of Ra descending into some strangely Meshuggah-esque polyrhythms fused with a few almost groovable sludge passages. The 10-minute album closer The Colour of My Name
combines dark post-metal comparable to that of Amenra with a scattering of the aforementioned Meshuggah worship and a long, monotonous, and percussion-free sludgy passage (see Overmars
) with a massive ending of an almost danceable rhythm to become the EP's obvious highlight. At not even 25 minutes, Arms of Ra
is, in all honesty, much too short. One can only hope that this little French band intended it to be this way and that this brilliant little 3-track portmanteau of hardcore, sludge, post-rock, and numerous other aspects is only a taste of what the band plans to put out in the future.