Review Summary: a near perfect example of hard rock/nu metal.
Hard rock and nu metal albums can be simple to get into, with accessible melodies, heavy riffs, and a catchiness that ensures songs stick in the mind. Ra’s From One
is not easy to get into, though, despite sticking to this formula and utilizing it better than their contemporaries. Ra have always been strange, separating themselves from other bands with their heavily inspired, and thus unique sound. Sahaj Ticotin (the lead singer) is the heart of the band, a Buddhist who guides Ra through the cosmos, channeling the sun’s energy. Ra’s musical style is hard rock/nu metal with a Middle Eastern twist, often subtlety employed in the 7-string guitar’s melodic riffs, but also employed in uncommon Egyptian instruments (see ‘Violator’, with its pounding tabla timed perfectly with double bass pedals). Such a twist makes all the difference in the world, for From One
has a spiritual, and mystical grandness that is difficult to compete with. It’s also difficult to keep balance as the sheer power of their music whisks the listener into the heavens. Paired with larger than life choruses, every gleaming second is breathtaking, and the lyrics are benefited accordingly:
“The sky will tell me
I'm not the only one
And the sky will tell me
I must believe the sun”.
I have already mentioned the uniqueness of Ra’s musical style, but there is another piece of the puzzle that merits attention. In comparison to the many, many hard rock vocalists around the time of the album’s release, Sahaj Ticotin can actually sing. Such is obvious from ‘Violator’, which showcases one of his best performances, as he sings all over the Arabic scale effortlessly. However, it is in the uplifting songs where his voice truly shines, hitting high notes and creating amazing energy. If any other singer had sung ‘Sky’, ‘Rectifier’, or ‘On My Side’, the songs would have been decidedly less powerful. That is not to say that the music is not powerful (quite the contrary), but rather that Sahaj’s vocal performance in this album is amazing, and brings an emotional depth to the album which would otherwise be less potent.
Although one could go on and on about the meritorious qualities of this music, the album certainly isn’t perfect. The lyrics are the biggest issue, for although they are often poetic and well thought out, they just as easily slip into angst and depression at the tip of a hat; with more aggressive, or more nu-metal styled songs, thoughtful lyrics are thrown out the window. Take ‘Skorn’ for example (the subject being a bitter man wishing revenge on his ex), with lyrics like “You were the one who raped my soul”, and “Touching your ass, I scratch the skin. Holding your neck, I tie the rope”. Such awkward lyrics make the album seem less thoughtful than it actually is.
Complaints aside (and I cannot think of many) this is an entirely solid album. In fact, it is a superior example of hard rock/nu metal, proving that the tight stylistic boundaries of both genres can easily be sculpted into truly extraordinary music when given enough thought and brilliant execution. Highly recommended.