The year was 2002. I was in high school along with my girlfriend (now wife). She brought in a new CD she had purchased after hearing a song called “Do You Call My Name” on a local university radio station called 88.9 The Alternation. Soon enough, I was obsessed with this record, and thus began my love for RA, a rock band like few others. After several years of relative silence, that band has reemerged once again with an album called “Intercorrupted”. It released on March 19th through Wake Up! Music.
I have lost count of the times I have listened to that debut album. “From One” was an exquisite, bold record that mixed alternative metal with Egyptian rhythms and melodies. It was heavy on guitar and percussion, and even heavier on outstanding vocals. The band followed that album with “Duality”, a record that I loved even more. While the Egyptian accents were less noticeable, the songs were simply fantastic, and the band’s influence from The Police/Sting was apparent. In fact, RA might have gotten me into Sting (hadn’t thought about that until now). To this day, I listen to the first couple albums all the time.
One thing that has excited me about “Intercorrupted” is the return of the original lineup from those two albums. The band consists of Sahaj Ticotin (vocals, rhythm guitar), Ben Carroll (lead guitar), P. J. Farley (bass), and Skoota Warner (drums). The record labels put these guys through the ringer, to say the least. In fact, their second album wasn’t even released in a timely manner because of the uninformed philistines at Universal. The band started losing members at that point, and that made me sad. The third album “Black Sun” came later, and while it was almost as good as the others, the band seemed to fade after that. Sure, I remember they released a compilation of unreleased tracks called “Black Sheep”, which actually contains some of my favorite RA songs, and Sahaj released a solo album called “Another Minute”, which was stellar; but the band just seemed done.
Back in 2013, they appeared once again. I attribute this to Sahaj and his vision for this band. “Critical Mass” was a great album, though I will admit it didn’t stick with me that much. I would probably blame me starting The Prog Mind that year to my lack of interest at the time. Anyways, I’ve been following the band since the debut, and have lots of feelings about all the ups and downs I’ve witnessed. I’m so happy that they are back once again, and I hope it for good.
“Intercorrupted” is a quality album. I would probably say it is stronger than their last two outings, in fact. This album blends pop sensibilities with their recognizable metallic sound. Sahaj sounds absolutely enormous, too, as it seems that he has not lost even a bit of the power and melody in his voice. Actually, I should probably say more about that. Sahaj is one of my favorite vocalists ever; his ability to hit unbelievable notes and hold them for ridiculous lengths (see “Sky” on the debut) is what first attracted me, but his consistently harmonious vocals, emotional capabilities, and celebration of his Egyptian heritage are what kept me coming back time and again.
The rest of the band is a joy, too. Ben and Sahaj hit hard with their guitars here, even offering some solos full of soul. P.J.’s groovy bass is as present and luscious as I remember, too, with Skoota’s drums also being a must-have for RA’s sound. Skoota offers fantastic fills and even leads the way with some of his beats. It is so good having him back.
The album has thirteen songs of well-written, catchy alt metal. I loved the singles “Intercorrupted” (currently my seven-year-old son’s favorite song) and “Jezebel”. The former has one of the catchiest choruses I’ve ever heard, not to mention some amazing harmonies, while the latter hits the ground running with P.J.’s bass, and the throwback to “Skorn” is a nice Easter egg. The album also has a couple of guest spots, those being from Starset’s Dustin Bates and Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon. Dustin shows up on “Enough”, and I will be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of his voice. It honestly sounds like he wants to be an alt metal version of Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. The song itself is great, though, especially when Sahaj’s more mature voice enters the picture. Now, I have no qualms about Lajon on “Nobody Loves You”, since Lajon is a legend in his own right. Hearing Lajon and Sahaj sing together is a feast for fans like me; I absolutely love it.
Yet, with such strong singles and guest spots, those aren’t my favorite moments. My favorite songs are “Loud”, “Divided”, and “Somewhere Beautiful”, even though all of the songs range from solid to strong on this record. “Loud” has such a pleasing chorus, one that feels like Sahaj is singing to the skies. I love the contrast between the verses and chorus, too. “Divided” is probably my favorite overall, though, with its powerful guitars, monster chorus, and incredible vocal performance at the end. Now, RA has always had a knack for perfect album closers, and “Somewhere Beautiful” is yet another one. This song offers strings and electronic accents to get us going, but the memorable chorus and fantastic guitar solo in the second half really take the cake.
RA is back, and for the love of all that is holy, I want them to stay. “Intercorrupted” has everything I’ve always loved about this band, and Sahaj continues to show that he has a veteran ear for melodies and mature writing. This is one band that certainly grew up with its fans, and I have high hopes for the future.
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