With a musical style that can be described as heavy and melodic with an exotic mix of world music; Ra is a band that burst onto the music scene back in 2002 with their hit Do You Call My Name. Helped tremendously by a big push at radio, as well as the songs inclusion in the Madden Football video game, Ra hit the road and started their roller coaster of a career. Fast forward 11 years and several albums and we find the original lineup is back together. They’ve created a new album titled Critical Mass and I’m here to share my thoughts on the album.
As if establishing the fact that the band has returned, the album begins with Brutiful. That title sounds as if I had written it myself. A brutal, beautiful tune with some electronic elements that delivers a fierce ass kicking to get the party started. This sounds like Ra. This feels like Ra. This is fantastic and will please anyone who has been a fan in the past.
The album continues with Awake. There is a familiarity that I immediately notice. The melody in the chorus, I’ve heard it. But where? Then the light bulb turns on. Vocalist Sahaj Ticotin produced an album for a young band called Concordia. They’re an Unsung Artist that I love. They have a song called On A White Horse and it’s the same melody within the chorus of Awake. (You can read that review here) I was excited about that song, so obviously, I love this one as well.
Supermegadubstep is the first single from Critical Mass. Thank God there is very little actual dubstep involved. With an upbeat verse, soft pre-chorus and blasting chorus, the band delivers a song that will absolutely ignite a crowd. This song is all about high energy and has a tremendously heavy breakdown. Throw your horns in the air, it’s on!
Returning to the style they’ve made famous, Ra delivers It’s All Over Now. If this song doesn’t get your blood pumping, you should probably have someone check your pulse. Ending the song is a strange, almost accapella dubstep beat, which is as odd as it sounds, but somehow works.
For me, the first song that disappoints is Anything You Want. The chorus is super radio friendly and is actually great. The structure is solid. The dynamics are awesome. So what disappoints me? The guest rap vocal just guts the song before it gets started. In what sounds like a cheap attempt to sound like Eminem, the rap is a total distraction and destroys what could have been a huge song. This one, unfortunately, misses it’s mark.
Won’t Be Home Tonight is a track that has handclaps. Wait, what? Starting off with an obvious make out session, an acoustic intro gives way to an aggressive set of power chords, complete with handclaps. Does it work? I say yes. This song is a departure from the norm for Ra, especially with it’s oooohhh, oooooh, ooooohs, but in all honesty, it’s one of my favorites on the album. I can’t say I’m a fan of artists talking through a breakdown, I just feel it’s cliche and misplaced, other than that this is a damn fine tune.
Running Blind brings back the middle eastern feel and delivers a song that is pure Ra. Only this band can create this song. For the older fans of the band, this will fill your heart. For new fans, start here. This is the foundation of what makes Ra, Ra. Great tune and a strong candidate for a future single.
After a nice interlude titled A Hollow Glow, we land upon Ecstasy. This song reminds me way too much of the stylings of Theory of a Deadman. That doesn’t sit well with me. Ra has always been very original and this tune, with it’s heavy-laden acoustic verses, just seems weak in my opinion.
Tragic Empire brings back the heavy riffs. While vocally the song is extremely repetitive, somehow it works. It’s definitely not my favorite song on the album, but it does have it’s moments.
Voices Inside My Head. THIS. OMG. Without hesitation, I declare this track the biggest winner on the album. If you even remotely like Ra, you’re gonna love this one.
Like a steam locomotive, the journey continues on Through The Valley. Chugging it’s way to nearly six minutes, the longest track on the album, the band shows so many different aspects that it’s hard to keep up. That’s not a bad thing, per se, but for the average listener, this song will be a lot to take in. I suggest enjoying it for what it is, a musical journey across a varied landscape that showcases the immense talent that this band possesses.
Closing out the album is Crawling To The Sky. As an album closer, the unwritten rules say that this song is written to keep you wanting more. By delivering a driving, melodic tune with an epic solo that ends abruptly, Ra has done just that. I not only want more, dammit I need more!
To sum it up, with Critical Mass, Ra has rejoined forces with one simple goal in mind and that’s to kick ass. I say, mission accomplished.
Unsung Melody Score – 8 out of 10
Preview or purchase Critical Mass below:
Ra – Supermegadubstep (Lyric Video)