Note: due to the nature of this series, the reviews may tend to be more in the first person than you are used to with music criticism.
Ra - Duality Review
Paul Gunnels's review - He gave it a rating of
Before listening to this CD I had never heard this band before and didn't really know what to expect. The first song, "Fallen Angels", really got my attention; I kept finding myself replaying that track over and over again. The CD is about 50 minutes and has 15 tracks with 13 of them being songs. Personally I am not a huge fan of interludes and non-songs put in CD's so the short tracks titled "Fear" and "Love" will be the only thing you may find yourself skipping.
The songs on the CD all have varying sounds and styles. Songs like "I Lost Everything Today" are filled with electric guitar riffs (and even a guitar solo two minutes into the song) while "Swimming Upstream" is completely acoustic. To go in between, you have songs like "Superman" which have both acoustic and electric blended beautifully together. This mixture makes the CD flow between one song and another very well. While the songs varying to some degree, there is a strong consistency with the way the songs sound. The lead singer's vocals range in style and sometimes resemble Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) with other times you get a John Mayer feeling. Songs like "I Lost Everything Today" and "The Only One" have some very catchy lyrics and the way they are sung make it even better.
My personal favorite songs are: "Fallen Angels", "I lost Everything Today", and "The Only One". For people who like bands such as Audioslave, Default, and Seether this is a solid, all around album that I give 5/5 stars. The band sounds experienced and the CD is put together very well. Expect to hear much more from these guys soon.
antiGUY's Review - He gave it a Rating of (would be 5 if I hadn't heard their debut)
To be quite honest I wasn't expecting much from this CD. So many bands in the recent past have delivered stellar debuts only to falter with their sophomore albums. Therefore, I kept my expectations low and was pleasantly surprised with what I heard.
While Ra's debut, "From One," set the standard rather high, the band managed to almost reach that dizzying high with Duality, despite lineup changes and taking three years to release this follow-up.
This is a band that has always been about songs and that hasn't changed one bit with this CD. However, I will say that this effort seems a tad more mainstream formulated than their debut. You can easily hear "Fallen Angels" spinning out of control on KROQ or other "modern rock stations," while it's a well crafted commercial single it's also a strong piece of songwriting that calls out to hit the repeat button. My only real qualm with the band on this CD is that the Middle Eastern influences really took a backseat this time around. That was my favorite part of their debut and this album is not quite as dynamic, ambitious and far reaching as the debut but it still delivers where it counts with it's progressive modern rock. I would have loved to hear the band take off further in the directions they started on their first album, but I can't say I'm really disappointed because this CD does deliver from start to finish, especially on the more dynamic songs like "Tell Me" (modern prog rock), "The Only One" (big beefy riffs), "Superman" (smoking solo), "Got Me Going" (yeah! The Middle-Eastern influence is back!). These are the tracks where Sahaj really shines.
The thing I like about Sahaj is that he is hard to pin down. He fits comfortably into the modern rock fold but at other times he harkens to singer's like Geoff Tate and Corey Glover. But the best part of this album is when you go beyond the surface of how the songs sound and delve into the lyrics and the duality of the messages conveyed within the two halves of the album. The first half deals with "Fear," but salvation and redemption comes in the second half with "Love". It's not as heady as say "To Our Children's Children Children" (Moody Blues) but in this day and age a cohesive concept album is a welcome departure from commercial schlock.
Ra once again proves that major labels sometimes get it right and sign quality bands. Duality is an exceptional follow-up to From One and Ra stands head and shoulders above their contemporaries and should appeal to fans of bands as varying as System of a Down and Incubus to Yes and Queensryche. Now that my friends is impressive!